Prenatal Massage: What The Expecting Can Expect

Being pregnant brings with it all kinds of changes and stresses on a woman’s body. At The Good Life Massage, we’re proud to offer prenatal massage. This specialized approach to massage gives pregnant women all the benefits of massage as they get ready for delivery.

We sat down with Michelle Green, LMT to talk about some of the differences between prenatal massage and regular massage. Prenatal clients are among our favorite clients to work with, but there are some things you should know before you come in for a prenatal session.

First, whether you’re a returning client or you’re new to The Good Life Massage, you need to inform your massage therapist if you are pregnant. As healthcare providers, this is something we need to know to keep both you and the baby safe, so please be sure to mention your pregnancy on your intake form. If you are pregnant, the front desk will give you an additional intake form with questions relating to your pregnancy. We understand that you may want to keep the news to yourself, and that’s understandable. But we really do need to know, and are bound by law to keep your medical information private.

How massage can help you cope until delivery day
Whether pregnant or not, regular massage therapy helps with a number of issues, including muscle soreness, posture issues, and chronic pain, as you might expect. But it has also been shown to help with depression, digestive issues, and sleep. All of these are things pregnant women could use extra help with, but there’s even more to it than that.

In Michelle’s experience, pregnant clients have particular needs that massage can most directly address. “Prenatal work can really help with a lot of those pregnancy aches and pains whether it’s low back and hip pain, to pain in the knees and feet. I’ve also come across a lot of women who have had some upper back and shoulder pain as they get a little bit farther along, and some of the massage techniques used can really help to relax those and kind of stretch things back out to keep you comfortable during the length of your pregnancy.”

Getting you comfortable
Baby bumps don’t fit on a massage table in the traditional way, and massage therapists need to adjust their modalities and techniques to accommodate pregnancy. This isn’t just a nice adjustment–it can be critical to the safety of the mother and unborn child.

“The massage therapist is going to take a little bit of extra time and care with the massage,” Michelle says. “They’re going to set the table up a bit differently, depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, usually keeping you on your side and making you really comfortable with bolsters or pillows that we’ll put underneath the legs.

“We’ll give you a nice little pillow to snuggle with as well. It kinda helps to keep your spine and your shoulders as well as your low back in alignment to keep you comfortable while you’re on the table. And just like any other massage, you can undress down to whatever your comfort level is and really get a chance to relax.”

Your therapist may also use specially designed support cushions to allow you to lay face-down on the table as with a traditional massage. This is one of the reasons it’s important that we know about your pregnancy in advance of the session–so we can be sure we’re prepared with the necessary equipment on the day of your session.

The right massage at the right time
How and where you’re massaged depends on where you’re at with your pregnancy. Very early on, there are few noticeable differences in how we’ll work on you. “A massage therapist will do the majority of the work while you’re on your side. And this is for a little bit later into your pregnancy,” Michelle explains. “A lot of the times when you’re early on, you can still lay comfortably on your back so that some upper shoulder and back work can be done from that position as well.”

If you think you may need assistance getting on and off the table, our therapists would be happy to help. For this reason, you may feel more comfortable working with a female therapist, so please note that when you book your massage. While we are happy to accommodate any request regarding the gender of your therapist, you should know that all our therapists of any gender are well-trained and qualified to give our pregnant clients a safe, comfortable massage experience.

Can massage induce labor?
This myth seems to have legs, and it’s not hard to understand why. Who would want to give birth on a massage table? But massage professionals like Michelle know this just isn’t true. “You don’t really need to worry about early labor being induced during massage. The techniques that are used are very safe and won’t affect that at all.”

Pregnancy is difficult enough. Let us help you get through it. Book your prenatal massage now.

If you want to buy a massage for someone special in your life who might be expecting, you can purchase a gift card here in any amount you wish.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director at The Good Life Massage. You can reach him at marketing@goodliferenton.com

Michelle Green is a licensed massage therapist at The Good Life Massage. You can reach her at support@goodliferenton.com

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When NOT to Get a Massage

As much as we’d like to say that any time is a good time, sometimes it really is best to reschedule your massage. Massage has a significant impact on the body, and that means you need to use just a little self-awareness before getting the table. If you get this wrong, the consequences range from mild discomfort to needing serious medical attention.

Injuries
If you’ve been injured, say on the job or in a car accident, massage can be extremely beneficial and therapeutic, depending on the nature of your injuries. Having said that, we highly recommend a doctor’s referral before you come in after an injury. Massage could actually aggravate your injury, making a bad situation even worse.

Yes, we’re trained professionals, but we’re not medical doctors. It’s crucial that you be honest with your therapist and yourself before you get on the table.

After Drinking
We strongly recommend spacing out your alcohol consumption and massage. This is an easy trap to fall into on a cruise or some kind of vacation situation. If a couples massage, for instance, is part of a date night, make sure the massage comes before, not after, dinner or drinks.

Have you ever noticed that your therapist will offer you water after a massage? That’s because massage makes you feel dehydrated … just like alcohol. Getting a massage after a few drinks might feel really good during the session, but you may really be feeling it in the morning.

“Uh oh. Am I getting this?”
Do you have that little tickle in the back of your throat? Are you feeling some queasiness or chills? Listen to your body. If you’re feeling some of the telltale signs that indicate that you’re about to get sick, reschedule your massage. (It should go without saying that getting a massage while you’re sick is usually a bad idea. But really–whatever you’ve got, we don’t want.)

In a way that’s similar to exercise, massage encourages circulation of bodily fluids, which can temporarily tax your immune system. If your body is already fighting a bug when you get a massage, you can expect to feel worse–definitely the morning after, and maybe even right after the session.

Pregnancy?
No problem. In fact, we highly recommend prenatal massage, right up to the time you give birth. There’s a myth out there that massage can actually cause you to go into labor. This isn’t really true.

Postpartum massage is also safe, in general, but if you’ve had a c-section or other complication, it’s best to clear it with your doctor first.

… But the money!
Your health is more important. Having said that, it’s understandable to be concerned about losing a prepaid session or having to pay for a session you won’t get because of a late cancellation. It’s true that we have a late cancellation/no-show policy, but we’ve been known to grant exceptions. Talk to your therapist or a manager if you have health concerns around keeping your appointment.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire his services as a writer, editor, or social media expert at www.TGunnWriter.com.

7 Mendacious Massage Misconceptions

Massage is becoming more popular every day. The public is finally getting educated on what regular massage can do to benefit your mental and physical health.

Having said that, there are a surprising number of myths and misconceptions about massage that we feel the need to clear up here and now.

This came up as a subject recently in our post about pre-natal massage. In my interview with Christie Ellis, formerly of GLM, the following misconception about prenatal massage came up:

“Prenatal massage can induce labor”
I’ll let Christie take this first one:

“That is a myth! Massage does not cause labor. Acupressure can precipitate labor, and that would be on the level of applying director pressure on a very specific spot for two or three minutes every fifteen minutes over the span of about forty-eight hours.

So there’s no way to come in for a prenatal massage and come out a mother?
“(laughs) No! And to be clear, acupuncture and acupressure are very different than massage. We’re using much broader strokes with massage and there’s absolutely no concern that a nice foot massage could put a woman into labor.

“Another myth I would point out is that abdominal massage can cause miscarriage. That’s out there, too, especially for people who are concerned about the first trimester.

“I do think it’s important to have someone that’s trained for any sort of abdominal work, but massage in general is very safe for expecting mothers.”

But there are plenty of other misconceptions about massage out there. This should put a dent in a few of the more common ones:

“Sure, you feel great right after a massage, but the effects are only temporary”
This idea probably comes from those who really need regular massage, but only tried it once, and went back to the status quo after a day or two. If you suffer from chronic pain or posture issues, regular massage can be particularly beneficial in “retraining” your muscles and your body to be well and whole.

Massage Results take time

You wouldn’t expect to reach all your fitness goals with just one workout, right? Massage is the same way: long-term improvements in your physical health almost never come in the form of a magic bullet. It just takes time and persistence.

If cost seems to be a barrier to getting the treatment you need, you might not have all the facts.

“Does it hurt? It’s supposed to. Just let it happen.”
If you feel pain or discomfort during your massage, say something! While it’s true that some discomfort can be expected in treatment massage, you need to keep talking to your practitioner about your comfort and the treatment they’re doing. Even if a particular stroke or method is supposed to be therapeutic, your therapist can and should honor your requests. The kind of care you receive is entirely in your hands, and should be wholly directed by you.

What’s more, too much pain can actually be counterproductive. If you’re sincerely in pain, you’ll unconsciously tense up other muscle groups, creating the exact opposite of the desired effect for your massage.

“Massage releases toxins and cleanses your system”
Not really. It depends on what you mean by “toxins”. What massage does do is help stimulate circulation throughout your body. This can be helpful if you’re injured. Increased blood flow can be very beneficial in that case. That circulation can include run-of-the-mill cell waste, but there’s no medical magic in stimulating processes that your body routinely caries out anyway. You can get the same effect from vigorous exercise.

“If you don’t walk away feeling like a million bucks, you got a bad massage”
It’s true that, for most cases, people walk away from their massage feeling relaxed, limber, even a little euphoric. But while this is commonly the case, a good massage can sometimes make you feel, well, lousy–at least immediately afterward.

Are you fighting a bug? If you’re getting sick, a massage can sometimes accelerate how quickly you feel the symptoms. You may walk in feeling fairly well, oblivious to the fact that you’re about to get sick, and then get off the table feeling a little weak and achy. If that turns into a bout with a cold or the flu, we feel your pain. But you can’t blame the massage therapist or the job they did for making it happen.

Another scenario is when deep tissue treatment is called for and requested. When your practitioner needs to go deep below the surface tissue to release trigger points and send circulation to distressed areas, this may cause some discomfort both during and just after the treatment.

This can be the case for specialty treatments we offer, including deep transverse friction and myoskeletal alignment. People sometimes report feeling sore after these kinds of heavy treatment-style massages. That does not mean your practitioner did a bad job. In fact, that can be a sign that more regular treatment is called for. It shouldn’t hurt every time, and there should be significant improvement after a good night’s sleep.

“If you have cancer, massage will spread the cancer cells through your body”
This is basically impossible. Massage moves lymph, but cancer doesn’t spread through the lymphatic system. Metastization (the spread of cancer) is due to genetic mutation and a number of factors that have nothing at all to do with the functioning of the lymphatic system.

Having said that, if you’re a cancer patient, it’s wise to consult with your oncologist before scheduling a massage. Relaxation massage at any stage of cancer can actually be immensely beneficial, reducing depression and anxiety. Some studies have even shown that it reduces nausea and pain.

Are there any others you’ve heard that we didn’t cover here? Do you have any questions about massage and what it can do for you?

Let us know in the comments below.

You can also contact us by phone at 425-243-7705

or by email at support@goodliferenton.com

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can find him online at tgunnwriter.com

Amy Gunn, LMP is a co-founder of The Good Life Massage and has been a licensed massage practitioner since 1999. 

What the Expecting Can Expect – A Primer on Prenatal Massage

Massage can be a great help, especially when the stresses of life–good or bad–become more intense than usual. Pregnancy is one of those times of life that, for most, is an exciting and anticipated event, but which brings with it challenges that massage can help you handle.

Christie Ellis, LMP, formerly of The Good Life Massage, is an expert in prenatal and post-natal massage.

Our resident expert in prenatal massage, Christie Ellis, LMT is a former employee of The Good Life Massage and has special training in prenatal massage. As a prenatal massage expert we consulted with her to share some of the fundamentals and benefits of prenatal massage.

What exactly did your special training consist of, Christie?
“Most people don’t get a lot of training other than just very basic contraindications (signs that prenatal massage should be avoided). So I actually got extra training in prenatal techniques at Bastyr University. Carol Osborne was my instructor there, and she is one of two or three national experts on training massage therapists in prenatal massage. So I took her training, which was four days, and it was all just exclusively prenatal and post-partum massage. So I’m certified in that, and I just have more experience in working with that population than most.

You’re a mom. Did you have any experience getting prenatal massage during that time?
I did, once. That was for my first pregnancy. It was actually my first-ever professional massage. I don’t think I even began to understand the positive impact that massage can have on the pregnant body. I think I totally thought of it as a luxury service, just getting pampered. But I didn’t know it would have an impact on my bodily structures. I think that was something I didn’t really understand until after I had my second child and was post-partum and was having all kinds of problems after having two babies.

What are some of the major benefits of prenatal massage?
I would say that there is stress relief, which is really valuable. It effects the nervous system, and is able to calm down everything when there’s anxiety, potentially, about becoming a parent, giving birth, and just preparation for the big event–it lets the brain kind of take a break for a while.

And then, I think, dealing with common pre-natal concerns like psiatica, low back pain, and pain in the shoulders can be alleviated or mitigated with prenatal massage.

What’s the value of one session versus regular sessions for expecting mothers?
Essentially, there is value in one treatment. When you’re doing fewer treatments, the value is more for the nervous system. It takes longer for lasting value and lasting change for the muscles.

I think weekly massage is very reasonable for pregnancy, and is not overkill. Definitely monthly, weekly, or twice a month is great to be able to address issues and kind of help compensating muscles as the baby’s growing and putting stress continuously, increasingly over the pregnancy.

Are there any safety concerns?
Prenatal massage completely safe. Our bodies are protective, and there are a lot of protective structures in between the outside of our body and the baby.

Having said that, there are precautions that need to be taken. Someone adequately trained should be taking those precautions, such as using a side-lying position later in pregnancy or elevating the side of the pelvis, and avoiding areas of inner-tension, such as the inner-thigh. That is, the inner thigh should be an area where caution is used in late pregnancy and post-partum. When you have a practitioner who is trained, and who knows those caution areas, it’s just as safe as any other time. There shouldn’t be any alarm about it causing any harm to the baby.

There’s an increased volume of blood in the inner thigh during prenancy, and most women have a good amount of blood clots in the inner thigh. The hormones released in giving birth cause those to dissovlve on their own, but heavy pressure on the inner thigh can dislodge them and cause problems. It’s better to just keep the pressure light. And then, a few months post-partum, regular pressure can resume.

Are there a lot of signs or contraindications women should be aware of to avoid prenatal massage?
Very few.

If there is a complication, such as preeclampsia, that is probably the biggest red flag to not proceed. Some of the indicators of preeclampsia include high protein in the urine, and high blood pressure to the point where it could cause fetal demise. It’s a highly managed complication. If someone has it, they’re in with their doctor a few times a week, probably.

Where there’s high blood pressure, massage would have to be at the discretion of the healthcare provider as to whether or not the person could tolerate that.

But for the bulk of people who just have aches and pains, maybe a little nausea, but no medical complication: with proper positioning, there are no concerns.

What session enhancements would go particularly well with prenatal?
I think one of the things that is most helpful is hot stone spot treatment. This is because, especially with late pregnancy and the positioning being on their side, getting on the deep pressure can be more challenging. But if the practitioner has a tool, such as a stone, to really go into the muscle with added heat, it can really get to a deeper muscle change than without it. Those are really nice. For work along the spine and pelvic work, it’s really nice to get to those with hot stones.

I also think aromatherapy is a nice enhancement for stress relief and also, again, since the positioning forces us to use less pressure, and because pregnant women are more sensitive to pressure, aromatherapy using something like the deep blue fragrance, or something that will relax the muscles is a nice way to still get the muscle change you want with the limitations on pressure.

Are there any myths about prenatal massage that are worth dispelling?
That it can put you into labor! That is a myth! Massage does not cause labor. Acupressure can precipitate labor, and that would be on the level of applying direct pressure on a very specific spot for two or three minutes every fifteen minutes over the span of about forty-eight hours.

So there’s no way to come in for a prenatal massage and come out a mother?
(laughs) No! And to be clear, acupuncture and acupressure are very different than massage. We’re using much broader strokes with massage and there’s absolutely no concern that a nice foot massage could put a woman into labor.

Another myth I would point out is that abdominal massage can cause miscarriage. That’s out there, too, especially for people who are concerned about the first trimester.

I do think it’s important to have someone that’s trained for any sort of abdominal work, but massage in general is very safe for expecting mothers.

Thanks, Christie!

Book your prenatal massage now.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about your particular case:

Email:
support@goodliferenton.com

Phone:
425-243-7705

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor at The Good Life Massage. Find him online at TGunnWriter.com