What to Expect from a Prenatal Massage

So last week we talked about when you can get a massage during pregnancy. To recap: for most healthy, low-risk pregnancies, massage with a skilled provider is safe throughout all three trimesters, and even during labor! Awesome, yes? There are some complications of pregnancy that make prenatal massage unsafe, but as my teacher Susanrachel Condon is always quick to point out, just because someone should not receive massage doesn't mean they can't receive touch. Hand, foot, and scalp massages, for example, may all be appropriate even if therapeutic full body prenatal massage is ruled out.

Mmm, cozy. Just like getting a prenatal massage in your home.

Mmm, cozy. Just like getting a prenatal massage in your home.

But ok, let's say you are pregnant, you haven't had any complications so far, and you are thinking about booking an in-home prenatal massage. What can you expect from your session?

The first thing I want you to know is that right now, my license allows me to do outcalls in Tulsa City only. (If you are outside of Tulsa City limits, no worries! You can schedule with me at Powell Chiropractic and come into the office.) 

The next thing I want you to know is that positioning for a prenatal massage is often different than most other massages. Together, we will determine appropriate positioning based on your comfort, combined with my knowledge of optimal positions to support your joints and protect your baby.

Possible positions include:

  • prone/supine (meaning you lie on your stomach and/or back), which may be appropriate in the 1st trimester
  • sidelying position using lots of pillows, which is most appropriate for the majority of massages in 2nd and 3rd trimesters
  • some elevated supine positioning (lying on your back, but propped up with pillows), which may be appropriate during the 2nd trimester and possibly the 3rd

(Maybe you have heard of those special tables that allow you to lie on your stomach even while pregnant. I'm sorry to break it to you, but I don't use one of these tables with a cut out because it doesn't provide proper support to all bodies, and it also produces extra strain on the pelvis during the third trimester. If it fits your body, those tables might be great for some part of your pregnancy! But if it doesn't, it can exacerbate lower back pain, round ligament pain, and even pelvic misalignments. So I go for what I know works throughout pregnancy - the highly adjustable support of multiple pillows propping you up in a side-lying position.)

Before we begin, I'll do a thorough intake to understand any medical conditions or history that might have an impact on your massage. If you have high blood pressure, preterm contractions, varicose veins, any recent surgeries, injuries, or broken bones...I definitely want to know about those things! If there's anything in particular bothering you, such as back or neck pain, sciatica, numb hands, or anything else, let me know so we can focus on alleviating those discomforts. Your health information is always confidential, and the more complete picture I have of your situation, the better care I can provide for you. I will bring an intake form for you to fill out while I get my table, pillows, sheets, oil, and music set up. The intake and set up takes about 15 minutes, which does not come out of your appointment time!

Speaking of music, during the massage, we can listen to whatever music you want to listen to. I have some of my own, or you can play whatever you might have on your iphone/smartphone/mp3 player. I tend not to talk that much (other than to check in with you on pressure and temperature once or twice), but if you want to chat, that's ok. Lots of clients prefer to focus on breathing and find that they eventually are so relaxed that they're able to doze off on the table.

After your intake, I will leave the room to wash my hands and give you time to undress to your level of comfort and get on the table. Depending on where we are in your house, I will knock on the door before entering or stay in another room out of sight and ask you to give me a verbal cue to let me know when you're ready for me to come in.

The time starts after you get on the table. I will work down one side of your body, then I'll help you turn over and readjust the pillows, and work down the other side of your body. Depending on your preferences, I tend to use firm, slow pressure for prenatal massage, and deep compression to the hip muscles to help relieve spasm and chronic tension.  If anything isn't right for you during the massage, please let me know! Maybe you usually like deep pressure, but one day you are feeling more tender. Let's adjust! It might be super cold out, but your hormones are making you feel overheated regardless. That's fine; we can always change things to help you cool off a bit. Maybe your bladder can't make it through a whole hour without a break - so let's pause for a couple minutes so you can get some relief! This time is for you, and I want you to feel well taken care of. If you need things to be adjusted, please speak up!

At some point in your massage, you may find that you drift off a bit. That's super normal. I've heard gurgly tummies, snoring, laughter, and tears on my table over the years; I'm used to these things. Towards the end of pregnancy, it's not uncommon for babies to be quite active as you start to relax on the table.

When our time is up, I will leave to wash my hands again. After you are up and dressed, I will quickly and quietly break down my table and pack up my supplies. We will check in briefly to see if your treatment goals were reached, if you have any questions, or if you are interested in re-booking your appointment. You can pay me at this time; I accept cash or credit cards, which are processed through the Square app. (You can also make the choice to pay online ahead of time - if you want to do this, let me know and I'll send you an online invoice.)

After your massage, you will probably feel relaxed and maybe even sleepy. Many clients report sleeping well the night after a massage, or feeling so well rested that they are able to tackle lingering tasks with renewed energy. You should expect to see some relief from any major complaints we may have addressed even after one session, though some issues may be more entrenched and take a series of appointments to affect lasting change.

I hope this gives you a better sense of what you can expect from a prenatal massage in your home here in Tulsa! Please comment below or send in a question if you have one.

And if you are ready to book your prenatal massage appointment, you can view my calendar and make an appointment online at any time. I look forward to working with you!

Next week I'm planning to go back to my series, Burning Questions. I'm always looking for more questions to feature on the blog. If you have a question you've been dying to ask about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, or the body, please be in touch! Comment on a post, use my contact form, or send me an email: emily (at) mamamassagedoula (dot) com. Thanks!