Nurture Article | The Portland Hospital Parenting Magazine
Spring/Summer Issue 2014 | Pregnancy Massage
There are few things in life more rejuvenating than a good massage.
But when you’re expecting a child, pre-natal massage can be the difference between having an enjoyable pregnancy and simply getting through it.
Whether it’s a sore back, swollen legs and ankles or stiff hips, most mums-to-be suffer some form of pre-natal ache or pain and it’s important not to let your natural discomfort become chronic.
As well as the stress caused on the back, abdomen, groin area and thighs as your uterus expands to accommodate your growing foetus, the bump causes your centre of gravity to change, meaning you stand differently too. There is also the extra baby weight you’re carrying around.
It’s all additional pressure on the body at a time of immense physical – and mental – change.
“Massage is incredibly beneficial for a pregnant woman,” says Mia Robbins, qualified pregnancy massage specialist and the owner of Balance Bodyworks.
“After the first trimester, it can be used to alleviate aches, pains, swelling, feelings of sickness and general discomfort.
“Many women suffer with fluid retention, muscle cramps, and sciatica – which massage can help with – but it’s also said to possibly shorten labour time and help women recover once the baby’s been born.”
Mia also places a lot of importance on the emotional wellbeing part of massage.
“Many of my ladies really enjoy simply coming in and having an hour or 90-minutes solely dedicated to them and their wellbeing. Pregnancy can be a stressful time for a mother-to-be. Massage can help redress the balance,” she says.
“Massage is extremely safe and comfortable for the majority of healthy pregnant women if it’s done correctly.”
While some therapists use a special pregnancy massage table that features a cut-out hole to accommodate your bump – meaning you can lay on your tummy – many pre-natal treatments are performed while you lay on your side. This way, a therapist can work on your back, legs, arms and hips before turning you over and doing the other side. “I would always recommend any expectant lady to do her research and see a properly qualified pregnancy masseur,” Mia says.
“Massage is extremely safe and comfortable for the majority of healthy pregnant women if it’s done correctly.
“There are things to bear in mind; some essential oils like jasmine, for example, should be avoided during pregnancy as it’s thought they can bring on uterine contractions.
“Specialist therapists know not to lay a heavily pregnant woman on her back for too long, for example (the weight can compress arteries which may make you feel faint).
“Massage also needs to be gentle because during pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin that makes a woman’s joints, muscles and ligaments more flexible. This makes birth easier, but therapists must take care when working on a pregnant lady.”
And there’s no reason to stop your massage regime post-partum either, especially as it can help with sore muscles, tension relief and with the drainage of any fluid that has accumulated.
Most new mothers who’ve had a straightforward birth can continue with treatments as soon as they feel comfortable – and baby allows.
If you’ve had a Caesarean, however, you may want to wait a few weeks as the scar can take several weeks to be comfortable to touch or lay on.
It’s always best to check with your doctor or midwife if you are in any doubt about getting treatment.
Best pregnancy massages
The Portland Hospital
With over 30 years of expertise in treating women during pregnancy The Portland Hospital’s holistic therapy services are specifically designed for expectant mothers to provide comfort and relaxation. Treatments are available throughout your pregnancy, during your hospital stay on a one-to-one basis, and beyond birth.
You can book regardless of whether you are having your baby at The Portland or another hospital. www.theportlandhospital.com Massage £85 for 60 minutes
Hidden inside a Victorian studio in Notting Hill, Balance Bodyworks is heralded as offering one of the best pregnancy massages in the capital. Friendly therapist Mia Robbins has worked at both hospitals and physiotherapists. www.balance-bodyworks.co.uk Massage £65 for 60 minutes
The private members club for mums
The Mermaid retreat offers an oasis of calm on the Kings Road, specifically designed for expectant women. With all manner of treatments and workshops from 12-weeks pregnancy until your baby is six months old. www.mermaid.co.uk Membership £30 per month. Massage £100 for 60 minutes
The countryside retreat
Want to really get away from it all before your new addition arrives? Escape to the Four Seasons Hotel, Hampshire (just over an hour’s drive away) for a Sodashi Vanilla Body Bliss treatment, suitable during and after pregnancy. www.fourseasons.com Massage £110 for 60 minutes
The girl about town massage
Aromatherapy Associates’ Ultimate Rose Pregnancy massage at their spa in Knightsbridge will relieve stresses and strains, rejuvenate heavy legs and make your aching back feel brand new (includes a relaxing scalp and facial massage). www.aromatherapyassociates.com Massage £90 for 60 minutes
Pamper yourself at Grayshott Spa, Surrey, which offers a retreat for those looking to de-stress and recuperate. Nurturing pregnancy massages are available for women in the second and third trimester of pregnancy. www.grayshottspa.com Massage £70 for 55 minutes.
By Nicole Mowbray