Pregnancy Massage – Is It Safe?

The popularity and education of prenatal massage has increased significantly over the past few decades.

In tribal cultures, prenatal and labour support massage was common.  Anthropologist George Engelmann documented these techniques in the mid 1880’s; however the first documentation of labour massage was in 15th century England.  It was common practice for midwives to use massage while the mother was in labour to make her more comfortable and to relieve pain.

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The elder women of the Nama Hottentot tribe of South Africa give massage treatments to the pregnant women of the tribe several times a week to prepare for the upcoming childbirth.  In Uganda, pregnant mothers receive massage daily in an effort to make their muscles and joints supple for an easier labour and delivery.

Women in tribal societies resume their normal everyday activities almost immediately after giving birth.  Among the natural methods used to restore strength and decrease post-partum depression in the new mum, the most important and widely accepted tradition is massage.

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In our medically advanced society, massage can often be over-looked as an important part of pregnancy health care.  However, this tried and tested tradition is one of the oldest forms of the healing arts and has been used for thousands of years in almost every culture.

Every pregnant woman deserves some pampering and massage is a wonderful way to reduce stress and promote general wellbeing.  Massage can be received during all three trimesters of your pregnancy for both normal and high risk pregnancies.

With the exciting news that you are pregnant, your body is about to undergo stress-producing changes.  Some of the consequences of these changes can leave a woman feeling sore, tired and uncomfortable.  Massage is therefore a great way to relieve this discomfort through the positive effects of soft tissue manipulation.

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Pregnancy Massage therapy helps the body adjust to accommodate the life growing within.  It can assist in reducing stress, encourage relaxation and prepare muscles and joints for childbirth.  Not only can this be a treat for you, but a much needed therapy to ease some of the aches and pains experienced during pregnancy.

It has been claimed that during the first trimester, pregnant women should not have massage as it may cause miscarriage, however if the pregnant woman is healthy and proper guidelines for working with pregnant women are followed, then there is absolutely no medical evidence to support that a massage could harm the pregnancy or cause miscarriage.  Most times this myth is circulated by the very ones who should not be doing pregnancy massage as they are not qualified to do so.

Just recently the Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT) has announced after completing their own research that pregnancy massage during the first trimester is considered safe “if undertaken by a trained pregnancy massage specialist.”

Here is a recent article about this breakthrough in pregnancy massage during the first trimester:

http://pregnancymassageaustralia.com.au/break-understanding-first-trimester-massage/

Probably the main reason for not getting massage in the first three months is more about comfort as it may trigger dizziness or increase your morning sickness – on the other hand it may eliminate these symptoms.  You won’t know until you try it and then you can let your therapist know if you start to feel uncomfortable and adjustments can be made or you can just stop the treatment.

Remember, there is no danger, just the potential to be uncomfortable.

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The most important thing to consider with pregnancy massage is using a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist who has had specialised training in pregnancy massage and knows the anatomy and physiology of a pregnant woman.  Just being a massage therapist doesn’t mean that they are qualified to give massage to pregnant and postpartum women.  Be cautious that just because a brochure offers pregnancy massage, it doesn’t always mean that they are qualified to do so.

It is essential to ask any questions or raise any concerns you may have to your therapist at any time during the treatment.  A professional pregnancy massage will always start with a minimum fifteen minute consultation prior to actually having a massage each and every time you attend.  You should be asked specific questions about the progress of your pregnancy, your current condition, your antenatal appointments and specific areas of discomfort and range of motion checks.

A trained pregnancy massage therapist will safely and effectively answer any questions you may have about having a massage during any stage of your pregnancy.  We also do not recommend the tables with the hole where the belly hangs down, as this puts so much more pressure on the sacrum, lower back and can strain the ligaments around the uterus and pelvis, not to mention your growing breasts which may be tender or uncomfortable.  Just imagine all that weight of your baby in your womb, just hanging down with the force of gravity – while your therapist is also then creating more pressure during the massage with the massage techniques (or not effectively working through this area so they don’t put more pressure there), so then your glute (bum) muscles are tensing trying to overcompensate for the pressure created in your back.  The best position during pregnancy massage is in a side-lying position, with your top leg at a 90 degree angle supported by a bolster under your leg and knees stabilising the hip joint, along with your top foot also being supported, not just hanging down at the edge of the bolster. Support cushions will also be used to stabilise your body to prevent you from rocking or rolling from side to side.

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Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in pregnancy, induction, labour and postnatal massage.

Vicki is a highly trained pregnancy massage specialist having completed the Diploma in Pregnancy Massage course in 2013 with Pregnancy Massage Australia.  This training is an advanced level of training for pregnancy massage, but also specialising in working with high risk pregnancy clients such as those with pre-eclampsia and other conditions such as pubis symphysis separation, pelvic girdle pain, lower back and hip pain, injuries and other pregnancy related dysfunctions.

She also holds a Diploma in Pregnancy Massage & Maternity Care after training in 2008 with Suzanne Yates, who is a well-known author, shiatsu practitioner, midwife and the Director of the Well Mother Centre in the UK. www.wellmother.org

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Vicki has expert knowledge and training of the anatomy and physiology of the pregnant body, stretching during pregnancy, labour position techniques and massage instruction for your partner.  She is also a Certified Birthing Assistant (Doula) and Childbirth Educator and conducts regular “Essential Birthing Journey” workshops for pregnant women.  Vicki is passionate about sharing her knowledge as a Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner having been trained in this method earlier this year and also in the Mongan Method (originally in November 2009 and then completed a refresher in November 2012).

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In addition to this, my insurance company specifically covers me for pregnancy massage, not just remedial massage, which further ensures that all strict training criteria and guidelines have been met for your own peace of mind.

As with most therapies, there are always precautions involved with receiving treatment during pregnancy, however pregnancy massage (when performed by a trained and experienced therapist) is a safe procedure with benefits far outweighing the risks.

For your own peace of mind, you can even discuss with your medical practitioner or obstetrician of your intention to have a pregnancy massage, and they will advise you if they feel that you should not do so for whatever reason.

BENEFITS OF PREGNANCY MASSAGE

The benefits of massage in general are numerous, however more specifically for pregnancy they include:

  • Relief from muscle cramps, tension, spasms;
  • Relief from pain especially in the lower back, neck, hips and legs;
  • Reduction of stress on weight bearing joints;
  • Improvement of muscle tone;
  • Dilate the blood vessels, therefore improving blood circulation including the placenta, which brings greater nutrition to the tissues of the body and enhances waste removal;
  • The lymphatic system circulates faster and more efficiently which results in more energy and less fatigue and helps to reduce swelling;
  • May help with the reduction of varicose veins;
  • Stimulates glandular secretions which will stabilise your hormonal levels and reduce their side effects;
  • Enhancement of elasticity and pliability of skin and connective tissue (ligaments and tendons);
  • Helping with sleeplessness or insomnia;
  • Increased range of flexibility and movement and become less prone to injury;
  • Helps to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety, which is also transferred to your baby to help them feel more relaxed and soothed;
  • Prepares the muscles and tissues used during labour and birth.

Many of the problems that arise during pregnancy are due to muscle strain, weakness and poor posture.  Proper exercise and appropriate stretching will increase your energy, strengthen the muscles most strained during pregnancy and labour, stimulate circulation and increase flexibility in the joints.

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Here is a great testimonial from one of our regular pregnancy massage clients:

“I would recommend Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre to anybody.  I first heard about them in an advertisement in the local magazine Offspring.  I was 24 weeks pregnant, working 25-35 hours a week in a busy café and was starting to feel a little tense in my lower back.  I decided to treat myself to a massage but I was a little nervous about having a massage while pregnant so I did some reading on the internet and Facebook which helped me to make a decision.

Vicki and Sarah are very professional and welcoming and I felt comfortable in their abilities almost instantly.  The bodyCushion that they use is so comfortable and supportive.  Pregnancy massage was such a great way for me to relax (body and mind) before the arrival of my baby. I continued to work right up to 36 weeks (3 weeks before baby was born) having a massage every 2 weeks or so definitely helped me stay very active during my pregnancy especially towards the end. I look forward to going back for a massage without my big belly!

Thank you Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre”
Laura

MORE INFORMATION

For more information or to book a pregnancy massage contact Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre, which is now located from my lovely home in Landsdale (the northern suburbs of Perth).

My details are (08) 9303 9111 or check the website www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

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Hypnobirthing Story of Cooper

The Hypnobirthing class helped me from the first session and weeks before my labour started. I have always had a huge fear of needles but I knew that it was all in my mind. The classes helped me to deal with that and my first blood test after starting the course was a whole new experience. I didn’t clench my husbands hand and I remained totally calm and breathed through the whole thing. It was the least ‘painful’ test I had ever had and while I felt it happening it was more of an annoyance than anything else.

Amanda & Shane relaxing during Hypnobirthing classes

Amanda & Shane relaxing during Hypnobirthing classes

My labour started only hours after my last pregnancy pilates class. I had done these since my second trimester and they helped me in so many ways.  I wasn’t due for a couple of days and heard constantly how I would go over so when I had what I thought were just period pains/Braxton Hicks type feelings that I had been having for weeks I didn’t think anything of it. I went to the toilet as I felt like I had peed my pants, but also didn’t think anything of that. However after this happened several times over half an hour I knew that something was up, especially after seeing signs of the ‘plug’.

I phoned my husband, as it was a Saturday and he was working that day, to ask what time he would be home as the baby may be coming that night. He said it would be a few hours and I said that was fine and I would see him later. I phoned again in an hour to say come home soon as the entire plug had gone and the surges were quite frequent. I wasn’t concerned but as they had come and increased in such a short period of time I just wanted to make sure my baby didn’t arrive while I was home alone.

Amanda & Shane practicing birthing positions

Amanda & Shane practicing birthing positions

I had also shown signs of Strep B in a previous gyno test and was advised that I needed to have antibiotic shots once my waters had broken. My intention was to go and have this shot when needed and go home if I wasn’t in established labour. I had no plans to stay at the hospital any longer than necessary. However by the time my husband got home and we were on our way to the hospital I asked him to time my surges as they seemed very close together and they were about 4 minutes apart.

Upon arrival at the hospital at 3pm, I was 4cm dilated so in established labour. I handed over my menstrual pad for review and they advised that I had meconium, which meant that the baby had pooped inside me and we would need constant monitoring. I knew this wasn’t a good thing but never once did I get stressed out. I had my fitball and my relaxation CDs and my husband so I knew that we would be ok.

It was quite annoying being strapped to heart rate monitors and one on my belly to monitor the babys heart rate and my surges, however I think this gave the student midwife and my husband something to do while watching me breath. I can honestly say that I think the Affirmations CD was played a couple of times, I still do not recall ever having listened to it in its entirety. However at one point I came out of my trance and said “Lets put something else on, I have heard this bit already”. My husband and midwives laughed and said they had heard it a dozen times already.

Gorgeous little hypnobub Cooper - calm & relaxed

Gorgeous little hypnobub Cooper – calm & relaxed

I used various positions while breathing however I was unable to go for a walk or have a shower due to all of the machinery I was attached to. I did use the fitball and kneel on the floor which were both great for short periods however the machinery alarms kept going off as the strapping came off if I moved too much. Apart from the usual heart rate rises during a surge we both remained calm during the entire labour.

At 9pm the Obstetrician was called in as I was told I was at 9cm and able to push if I felt I could. This was a great feeling and while leaning over the end of the bed my husband and midwives watched while waiting to see the head. When the Obs arrived she did another examination, this felt a lot different to the last 2 and more like what I had been expecting, rather intrusive and uncomfortable. She advised that I was only 5 cm and should certainly not be pushing. She said that I was swollen and she could feel his head and gave me a list of options such as C-section, epidural etc. I said that I wanted an hour to keep trying.

After an hour I was still only 5cm however my contractions had slowed (probably due to my less relaxed state). I chose to have an induction drip to get things moving again, however after over an hour of this I was still only 5cm and my baby’s head was trying to come out, resulting in a cone head formin. This was probably due to us both being ready and me trying to push earlier, however my husband got scared and we both agreed that the safest option for the baby was a C-section.

Our Hypnobirthing family

Our Hypnobirthing family

Making this decision, plus being chemically induced seemed to make the surges more noticeable than ever. I asked for some relief and they gave me gas but nothing else as the anaesthetist was on his way for the epidural. The gas was more of a distraction and the breathing worked much better so I continued with that to prepare for what was ahead. I told the doctors that I didn’t want details of what they were doing, just to proceed but they insisted on describing everything in detail. I didn’t really listen to them I just breathed my way through some very close intense surges that the drugs were already bringing on. I was more concerned about staying calm while they were doing everything that needed to be done and to give my boy the most relaxed environment possible.

I could tell that my husband was stressed and while I lay there totally numb from the chest down I made some jokes to him to try and calm the mood. It was 3am by this time so a huge day for him after having started work at 6am the previous morning. However I do believe that if we hadn’t done the Hypnobirth classes together he would have been insisting that I had a C-section many hours earlier and not been able to deal with any of the labour or events that followed as calmly as he did.

Despite not delivering my baby naturally I still to this day have my calm relaxed Hypnobirth baby. He only cried briefly when he was born and lay on my chest looking at me with his eyes open, very calm yet alert while holding onto his daddy’s finger. He had a HUGE cone head, however this was gone within several hours.

Two things I was told and didn’t know otherwise was that I could not do delayed cord clamping with C-section, I assumed it was as they needed to stitch me up straight away. Also that he had to be assessed first and cord cut etc. before laying on my chest.

I was just so relieved that he was here and safe and being looked after by his dad (and still a boy as I was sure that wouldn’t go according to plan either) that I was ok with everything else. It didn’t seem long until he was on my chest and pooped all over me again. We were all taken straight to our room together and no recovery rooms just our new family to feed and bond.

All of the nurses commented over the next few days on what a calm relaxed family we were, many of them thought this was my 2nd/3rd child and didn’t give us much interruption. It was like we already knew each other and me and my boy just learnt everything together very easily.  He slept 5-6 hours every night from day one and fed easily. Six months later he is still a bright, alert, happy and calm little man.

Six months later Cooper is still a bright, alert,  happy and calm little man.

Six months later Cooper is still a bright, alert,
happy and calm little man.

I couldn’t recommend the hypnobirthing course enough and will be practicing again from the minute I fall pregnant, hoping to achieve a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) next time. I would love a home birth but my husband would need a lot of convincing for that. Also due to previous medical issues and having a LETTZ cervical surgery several years ago it is possible that I will have another C-section, so I think the safety of a hospital will be the chosen option.

The student midwife said the experience was amazing. Although she wasn’t there for the C-section as it was such a huge long day she was amazed to watch the monitor during a really strong surge and at one point I opened my eyes and said “Wow that was intense”, however to look at I showed no signs of anything, just breathing.

I don’t recall any “pain,” just a feeling that my baby was coming to me.

I loved every moment of it and can’t thank Vicki at Phoenix Therapies and the Hypnobirthing Centre WA enough.

Amanda & Shane

Are you or someone you know FIFO?

It is not uncommon for FIFO workers to come home exhausted and mentally fatigued.  We hear about the lack of affordable housing, relationship breakdowns, mental illness, under-resourced and over-stretched local services – the list goes on.

We all know that FIFO workers work exceptionally hard for long periods of time in sometimes really hot conditions and cramped accommodation.  They are away from their homes and loved ones and are exposed to stressful situations, which can contribute to poor physical health, emotional distress and significant disturbances in their sleeping patterns.

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It has now become a necessity for all FIFO workers to wind down mentally, physically and emotionally and the best way to do that is through massage using quality, pure essential oils.  Our massage includes slow, deep tissue massage techniques combined with trigger point stimulation, stretching and myofascial release.  You will experience not only the physical manual manipulation of your tight muscles, but also enjoy the quiet ambiance of your surroundings, the calming of your mind and the balancing of your emotions.

As much as it is important for FIFO workers to spend time with their loved ones when they return, it is equally as important that they have some “down time” or “me time” and having a massage in the first day or so of arriving home can be extremely beneficial in easing aches, pains and muscular discomfort, restlessness, insomnia and so many other conditions that generally affect FIFO workers.

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Furthermore, we also have to take into consideration that mum or the partner of these FIFO workers also needs to have some “down time” or “me time” particularly if they don’t have any support from an outside source while their partners are away.  Our thinking is that once the FIFO worker has had an opportunity to become “grounded” and” revitalised” that they are more likely to be in a better place and ready to take on their “home duties” and “parenting duties” in a better frame of mind.  Then it is important for mums to have some “down time” and “me time” so they too are encouraged to have massage to improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being.  This will definitely lead to better quality time together and shared appreciation in each other.

There are many ways in which the benefits of massage can improve the quality of your life.  Many people think the benefits of massage are restricted to relaxation (which in itself is hugely important!). But there are numerous other health and wellbeing benefits.

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Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include: pain relief, reduced anxiety and depression, and reduced blood pressure, heart rate. The release of endorphins and serotonin can: prevent fibrosis or scar tissue, increase the flow of lymph and improve sleep.

Relief from pain due to musculoskeletal injuries and other causes is one of the other major benefits of massage. It can also relieve tension headaches.

The benefits of massage therapy are fully integrated into the Australian health care system (via alternative and complementary medicines and practitioners). Awareness of the many benefits of massage therapy is increasing all the time.

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Acupressure or trigger point massage may be very beneficial in relieving back pain.  After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations, with the effects perhaps being mediated by decreased stress hormones.

Massage stimulates the immune system by increasing blood flow and lymph drainage. It improves circulation and relieves congestion in the tissues. It stimulates the production of blood cells and promotes lymph flow which hastens the elimination of cellular wastes. It helps clear muscles of lactic and uric acid that build up during exercise and relaxes muscle hypertonicity as well as relieves muscle tension.

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Benefits of massage also include improving muscle tone and delaying muscle atrophy resulting from inactivity. Deep massage can separate fascial fibres, and prevent the formation of adhesions and helps reduction of inflammation and oedema in joints and soft tissue. Massage stimulates increased proprieties and kinesthetic awareness of the body

Massage assists the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It relaxes and tones the muscles preventing injuries, increases circulation and therefore improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all body cells.

One of the best benefits of massage is that it makes you feels great!!!

For first time clients we will give you 20% off your first visit so you can experience for yourself how good it feels to have a great massage with one of our qualified and experienced remedial massage therapists.

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Just mention that you are a FIFO worker to get 20% off your first visit.

We also have a FIFO Healthy Lifestyle Saver Option where you pay for 5 massages up front and you get the 6th massage for FREE!

If you have private health insurance, you can also receive a rebate from your health insurance fund depending on your level of cover.  Just call your health fund to find out if you qualify and to find out how much rebate you will receive.

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To book in for your FIFO super tune-up please call Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre on (08) 9303 9111.

We are based in the northern suburbs of Perth at Darch Plaza, 225 Kingsway, Darch WA 6065.

 

Resources:
Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT)