Nashville mom Laney Campbell was three months pregnant with twins the first time she scheduled a prenatal massage. "I became large rather quickly and was having a lot of leg cramps and lower back pains," she says. "I talked with my doctor about it, and she highly recommended prenatal massage." Many pregnant women seek relief from the aches and pains of pregnancy through prenatal massage therapy today. "It has been proven to safely eliminate or reduce many of the normal discomforts of pregnancy," says Kathy Roberts, a 28-year veteran registered nurse and licensed massage therapist. Beth Alexander, another licensed massage therapist, agrees. "When you get pregnant, you're going to have pain. The ligaments are loosening up, the spine and skeleton are shifting, and there is a lot of stress on the joints. Since you want to avoid taking drugs, massage therapy is a good way to take care of those discomforts without the use of medication. Campbell found this to be true. "During my second pregnancy, I had a lot of sciatic pain … to the point where I couldn't walk. The massage therapist worked on me for three days in a row, and when I left I was fine," she says.
DISCUSS WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST
Like anything else in pregnancy, consult your doctor first. "If a woman has had a miscarriage before or has any sort of predisposition to anything that may be of concern, she should check with her doctor first," suggests Alexander. While therapists doing regular massages work deep tissue, prenatal massage therapists work at a lighter level. Positioning is different, too. "I have a special prenatal massage table so we can do face down if we need to," says Roberts. "We also do side-lying positions — it's whatever the mom prefers. Her head also needs to be elevated, and her body should be tilted to the left so the baby isn't pressing on the large vessels," she adds.
PRENATAL MASSAGE BENEFITS
1. Eases backaches, headaches, shoulder and neck pain.
2. Decreases pain in the pelvic/hip area.
3. Increases circulation.
4. Improves digestion.
5. Reduces fatigue.
6. Improves sleep.
7. Helps reduce swelling in hands and lower legs.
8. May reduce sciatic pain.
9. May reduce leg cramps.
10. Can alleviate stress on weight-bearing joints.
11. Promotes relaxation as well as deep breathing.
12. Helps stabilize hormone levels be lessening anxiety.
FIND LOCAL MASSAGE THERAPISTS
On the American Massage Therapy Association website, you can find local therapists offering prenatal massage along with their qualifications. Here are a few local offerings to get you started:
Back in Touch Wellness Center
2817 West End Ave., Ste. 205, Nashville
4107 Charlotte Ave., Nashville
2409 21st Ave. S., Ste. 102, Nashville
302 D Uptown Square, Murfreesboro
533 N. Thompson Lane, Murfreesboro
Ms. Sue's Med Spa
180 N. Belvedere Drive, Ste. 20, Gallatin
Reneaux Day Spa & Salon
155 Anderson Lane, Hendersonville
A Moment's Peace Salon & Day Spa
9050 Carothers Pkwy. #108, Franklin
Be Simple Massage and Yoga
127 Franklin Road, Ste. 310, Brentwood