Pregnancy massage: the benefits for each trimester

A woman is a full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform’
– Diane Mariechild

Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a woman’s life. It is also a period of great physical and emotional change, which may cause discomfort and aches. Receiving regular pre-natal massage throughout all three stages of pregnancy is a great way of achieving relaxation, receiving support and nurturing your body and mind.

First trimester

The first trimester in particular can be quite an overwhelming experience. It is the time when the body goes through extensive hormonal changes, resulting in tiredness, nausea, sleep disturbance, mood swings and anxiety. It can be a challenge just to relax and enjoy the start of the pregnancy. Many women still avoid massage at this stage due to false myths about the dangers of massage and miscarriage, however, pre-natal massage in the first trimester is not only safe but can help in many positive ways, such as:

  • Supporting the healthy growth of embryo and foetus
  • Stabilising hormones
  • Reducing anxiety and nausea
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Enhancing self-awareness
  • Helping start the bonding with the baby

Before 12 weeks any pressure on the belly and uterus is avoided. Massage itself is gentler rather than vigorous and can already require a side-lying position, for comfort and due to tender breasts.

Second trimester

In the second trimester, it is common for energy levels to improve and for nausea to substantially decrease. It may seem like the easiest part of pregnancy although big changes are continuing to take place in the body. At this time, pre-natal massage can be extremely beneficial:

  • Helping to increase the blood flow
  • Reducing headaches
  • Decreasing the appearance of varicose veins
  • Alleviating back ache and soreness
  • Helping to balance digestive system

As sensitivity to smells starts to lessen, it is a great time to include light essential oils to the pre-natal massage therapy, which can assist by calming the nervous system and aiding sleep.

Third trimester

The last three months of pregnancy can be the most physically uncomfortable. This is when body is getting bigger and most of baby’s physiological growing occurs. At this stage, massage can be a fantastic to:

  • Ease the symptoms of restless legs
  • Relieve lower back and hip issues
  • Improve lymph flow
  • Reduce swelling in the hands and feet

From 38-40 weeks is a suitable time to start adapting massage in preparation for birth, by concentrating on specific pressure points which help to dilate the cervix and induce labour.

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