What Do They Do During a Prenatal Massage?

Pregnant woman expressing back pain and in need of a prenatal massage

Are you interested in becoming a massage therapist and want to help mothers-to-be with prenatal massage? During a massage therapy program at a vocational school, you learn prenatal massage in addition to other general massage techniques like Swedish and deep tissue massage. With the magic of prenatal massage, you can make a women’s stress go away, even if for an hour at a time.  

What is Prenatal Massage?

Prenatal massage uses many of the techniques of traditional and Swedish massage therapy and adapts them to the strains and stress of the body for a woman that is pregnant. During a traditional massage, the client may spend most of the time face down on a massage table, whereas with prenatal massage the client is on their side with special cushioning and draping to make the client comfortable. As a massage therapist, you will have to be more careful when applying pressure to the pregnant woman’s body, especially in the leg, breast and belly areas.  Prenatal massage is safe and often ordered by a doctor as supplemental treatment for the aches and pains of pregnancy.

How Does A Massage Therapist Perform Prenatal Massage?

A prenatal massage can last around one hour. As the massage therapist, you will make the client comfortable in the proper position either on a massage table or other comfortable location. The first part of the massage involves learning more about the client’s history, aches and pains and any restrictions that their doctor has requested. During the prenatal massage, it is important to keep an open line of communication both verbally and through body language. The body language of the client will tell you as much about their comfort level as what they say to you.

The actual prenatal massage mirrors an adapted type of Swedish massage, where certain areas of the body are off limits since certain pressure points can cause contractions. The legs are also an area of concern for pregnant women as the pressure can dislodge blood clots that have formed from the pools of blood that may settle in the extremities. You may massage the abdomen gently to help with relaxation and stress reduction.

What Are the Other Benefits of Prenatal Massage?

Research shows that prenatal massage can help reduce stress, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pain, and improve labor outcomes, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Prenatal massage can also help regulate hormone levels, help blood circulation, and reduce swelling.

Benefit #1: Stress Relief

Pregnancy can be stressful, with the increase in hormone levels, morning sickness, swelling, aches and pain. Massage therapy is a holistic practice that relieves stress of the mind and body. Stress can come in many forms and for many reasons but an hour of prenatal massage several times a week can help a woman better deal with the stress that comes with pregnancy.

Benefit #2: Decrease Symptoms of Depression

Low dopamine and serotonin levels are associated with depression. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that is a messenger between nerve cells that can deliver a feeling of pleasure to the nerves. A low level of this hormone can cause depression in pregnant women. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer, offering feelings of well-being. Serotonin helps brain cells and nervous cells to communicate and pass the same feelings of well-being. Prenatal massage helps elevate the levels of the hormones including dopamine and serotonin through muscle and nerve stimulation, decreasing the symptoms of depression.

Benefit #3: Regulate Hormone Levels

Hormone levels are regulated better with the help of prenatal massage. This leads to a balanced mood and improved heart health. The stress hormones, norepinephrine and cortisol are reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels are increased. The balancing of hormone levels helps improve labor outcomes.

Benefit #4: Improved Blood Circulation

Pressure is created on the body during prenatal massage to help move the new blood in and old blood out of the body’s muscles and cells. During pregnancy, blood can pool in the extremities and also cause a build-up of lactic acid. Prenatal massage helps the blood better circulate and remove the waste in the muscles with new oxygenated blood.

Benefit #5: Reduced Swelling, Muscle Aches and Joint Pain

Women can experience swelling, muscle aches and joint pain during pregnancy. Prenatal massage helps by stimulating the soft tissues of the body to reduce the fluids that cause swollen joints. This practice helps remove the tissue waste to reduce muscle aches and joint pain. Prenatal massage can also help relieve the aches and pains of pregnancy by improving circulation, reducing headaches, improving oxygen saturation levels and improving sleep.

Benefit #6: Improve Labor Outcomes

One of the most common triggers that can cause stress is the thought of a poor labor outcome. The increased stress caused by this thinking can actually cause the outcome that the woman is worried about. Prenatal massage helps increase the proper hormone levels, reduce depression and help with relaxation and better sleep. All of these benefits from prenatal massage will help improve the labor outcomes.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about prenatal massage, want to help women have a less stressful pregnancy? During a massage therapy program, you will learn the proper techniques to keep the woman safe and feeling less stress during their pregnancy. It is rewarding knowing that you are helping improve labor outcomes. Start a massage therapy program today and help your clients relieve stress tomorrow.

Want to Learn More?

If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed with full time enrollment. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their clients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.

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