Monday, January 31, 2011

Debunking Myths of the Dangers of Pregnancy Massage

Around the world touch has been used to improve and enhance a woman’s experience of her pregnancy and birth. Ongoing research supports the claims of psychological and physiological benefits of massage specifically during the perinatal cycle. Some cited benefits include: improved physiological function; improved posture and emotional wellbeing; musculoskeletal pain reduction; enhanced lactation and increased prolactin production; decreased intra-uterine stress; increased ability to nurture others.

While the benefits are many, myths of dangers still circulate,
resulting in fearful pregnant women and insecure massage therapists who are concerned that touch may trigger a miscarriage. With this in mind, some sources recommend avoiding massage in the first trimester when most pregnancy losses occur. Others contraindicate touch to particular areas of the body, such as the belly, legs, or ankles, with hopes of avoiding the stimulation of contractions. In general, these ideas are not accurate and the next posts will address some of these fears.

The first trimester is indeed a time of great physiological and emotional changes––all the more reason a for a woman to receive nurturing touch, helping her integrate those changes. While miscarriage is extremely common, it generally occurs because the fetus is non-viable; massage has never been clearly implicated legally or scientifically as a cause of miscarriage.

Additionally, gentle touch to the pregnant abdomen does not hurt baby or mother While one may choose not to offer belly rubs in the first trimester in order to avoid associations between that touch and a miscarriage, the touch itself is not dangerous. During the first trimester, the uterus is low in the pelvis and not palpable without applying deep abdominal pressure––a practice which is contraindicated for massage therapists during pregnancy. Instead, nurturing touch to the abdomen, especially in the 2nd an 3rd trimesters, can be extremely relaxing for the mother.

Check out for more resources on pregnancy, birth and massage.

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