I want to discuss prenatal massage further. Since my last blog on prenatal massage, I’ve had some questions arise about the safety of prenatal massage, and I’ve also had some discussions about feeling empowered and safe during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a time when you can feel excited, worried, sick (literally and figuratively), happy, sad, scared, and grateful all at the same time. So often in this society women who are pregnant really rely on outside influences to coach them rather than listen to their bodies and intuition. This isn’t to say all pregnant women do this or even that it happens throughout the course of an entire pregnancy, but it does happen.
Myths and Pregnancy
Women will hear myths such as you should only sleep on your left side during pregnancy, while sleeping on the left side increases blood flow to the placenta, right side sleeping is beneficial in helping prevent heartburn (Stillerman 25). I even believed this myth and up until about 30 weeks I religiously slept on my left side until my body became sore. I listened to my body and started alternating, and everything was fine. I now have a healthy 4 year old! Doctors will often tell mothers who are eating a plant based diet that they need meat and/or dairy to sustain the pregnancy, or that they run the risk of deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals. Again, this can be true if there isn’t balance, but as long as the woman is healthy and eating a balanced diet full of a variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and complex carbohydrates, she and her baby will be healthy and strong. A pregnant woman who is following a plant-based or vegetarian diet needs to make sure she has enough iron (pumpkin seeds and flax seeds are amazing sources for iron) and B12, which come in supplements or fortified foods. I have several friends who were plant-based during pregnancy, and still are, who have healthy children. My friend has a blog you can follow about her two children growing up vegan. I did have cravings during my pregnancy that caused me to go from vegan to vegetarian but at three months postpartum I went back to vegan and have been ever since. I was vegan while breastfeeding and my son is vegan. He just had his check-up on Monday, and his doctor said he is strong and healthy.
As long as you do the research you will be fine during your pregnancy. I’m not saying to stop seeing your doctor, but it is good to ask why, how, and what during your pregnancy. Not only does this give you information but it also gives you back your power.
Massage Myths and Pregnancy
Massage is another area pregnant women often avoid, and even one massage therapists will avoid because of myths spread about massage. A common myth surrounding massage and pregnancy is that massage can cause miscarriage. For this to be true there would have to be deep, “traumatic shock to the abdomen [causing] serious injury.” (Stillerman 23). All abdominal massage during pregnancy is light and “involves no more pressure than the weight of the practitioner’s hands.” (Stillerman 23). In other words, the massage used on a woman’s stomach during pregnancy is feathering and gentle. Reiki is a wonderful way I incorporate loving, compassionate energy and soothing touch during an abdominal massage in pregnancy. All massage during pregnancy is modified from deep to lighter pressure because the goal is to relax the mother and reduce stress as noted in my blog two weeks ago about the benefits of prenatal massage. Another myth says that a pregnant woman’s feet and hands shouldn’t be massaged because of acupuncture points that could cause miscarriage. “Deep, sustained pressure must be avoided in these locations.” (Stillerman 24). Prenatal massage practitioners know where these pressure points are and do not work on them because they are contraindicated. A practitioner may go over the points lightly, but there is, again, no deep, sustained pressure. Many women experience swelling in the legs and feet so lymphatic drainage (light massage) along the legs and feet is very beneficial in allowing for the lymph vessels to drain. “Appropriate massage poses no danger during any trimester of pregnancy.” (Stillerman 26). As long as the pregnant woman feels comfortable receiving a massage and the practitioner is comfortable giving the massage and has background knowledge in prenatal massage, there is no problem with prenatal massage.
How You Can Empower Yourself
As women we are the creators of life. Yes, men do play an important role, but women nurture, grow, and sustain that life. What an awesome responsibility we hold. Often, though, we shut down our natural instincts and opt for technology or being told what to do out of fear or lack of information. I am not one to tell a woman how to give birth or whether she should breastfeed or not. I am one to encourage a woman to look at all of her options so she can make the best decision for herself and her family. I encourage all of my pregnant moms to read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin, The Birth Book by Dr. Robert Sears, and look into Birth Without Fear to understand there are options for birth. As women, our bodies are physiologically set up to give birth, but sadly there is a lot of fear surrounding labor and delivery. I had a natural birth in a hospital with a midwife, my friend had a home birth with a midwife, and I have other friends who had induced births using intervention (epidurals and/or cesarean sections). All of these options are wonderful because all women gave birth to healthy babies, but in my humble opinion all options need to be researched so the best choice is made for you and your family.
All of this knowledge is a part of your self-care regimen. As a mother you will continually research things for your child–diet, schools, discipline, etc.–so now is a wonderful time to start researching for you and your child. Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power,” and it is very true. You are empowered with the more you know. When you know more you can more easily take care of yourself and make conscientious decisions. You can relax and know that you and your baby are okay and safe. You can take care of yourself–your mind and body–by receiving a relaxing massage. You can book with me today and know you are in safe hands.
Stillerman, Elaine, and Penny Simkin. Prenatal Massage: A Textbook of Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum Bodywork. Mosby Elsevier, 2008.