Many massage therapists are taught to delay massage in the 1st trimester. Usually the rationale is that it avoids the possible association of any pregnancy loss, more common in the 1st trimester, with massage procedures. The safety of prenatal massage is relative to the therapist’s applied knowledge.
However, there is no substantive evidence to support claim that massage is unsafe in the 1st trimester, when appropriate guidelines are followed.
Some women avoid massage during the 1st trimester due to feeling nauseated, again, when performed within informed guidelines, this should not be a concern. In fact, parasympathetic responses might calm a queasy stomach.
Learning how to relax and to focus internally are integral parts of childbirth education programs. Relaxation and self awareness tend to create increased well-being for both the mother and the baby and increased chances for positive experience. Women and their partners who learn relaxation techniques are better able to adapt to stress during pregnancy and labour, and in the days and years of parenting. Individualised hands-on time with massage, presents a unique and potent experience of support and relaxation for pregnant women. Massage therapy in the 1st trimester supports expectant women because it generally makes them feel good, function more effectively, or feel optimistic. Skilled, nurturing touch is good for mums and their babies. It does more than pamper, it improves both mother and baby’s well-being and connection.
A personalised health assessment needs to be done and updated at each massage session to determine her general health and progress of her pregnancy.
If a pregnant woman has signs of possible complications, has conditions putting her at risk or has other health issues, communication with her maternity healthcare provider is best practice. Consultation with the midwife or GP on whether massage is a safe option, can occur and once it is determined and the personalised specifics are taken into consideration, a treatment plan can be put in place.
Kim Stephens has completed a certificate of pregnancy massage through Pregnancy Massage Australia and is a Diploma qualified Remedial Massage Therapist.