Pregnancy is a joyful time of transition for the mama-to-be, but it can be stressful as well. Massage promotes general well-being throughout your pregnancy by offering both physical and emotional benefits to support you as your body nurtures and cares for your baby.
Massage can help:
- Alleviate many of the normal discomforts of pregnancy, such as backache, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and sore, swollen feet.
- Relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes.
- Circulation, which in turn keeps hand numbness and blood pressure in check.
- Soothe and relax the nervous system, which helps you sleep more deeply.
- During birth as a comfort measure, and after birth to ease postpartum stress.
- To enhance deeper breathing and relieve uncomfortable congestion in the nose and sinuses.
Below are five tips you can share with your partner so he can give you a prenatal massage at home, anytime. Turn this article over to him...
Partners, follow these 5 tips to give your wives stress-relieving, muscle-relaxing, happiness-inducing prenatal massages at home.
The very best start is to offer your wife a massage. The gesture itself is almost enough to relax and ease her body!
It doesn't take much, as long as the touch is gentle and coming from a loving place. She will reap numerous benefits from the massage, and it shows that you support her and that you're being attentive to her needs.
Bonus: It promotes healthy relationship bonding!
Make sure your wife is lying comfortably on her side while supported by pillows, which is best for safety and comfort. She should have a pillow under her head to relieve tension on the neck, one under her belly (depending on how far along she is) and one under her knee/leg to keep her hip in line with her body. This makes it easiest to target the whole back, neck and head.
Sitting upright or reclined in a cozy chair, couch or recliner with her legs and feet elevated is also a good position. Make sure to place a pillow under her lower back to support the curve of her spine. If you stand behind or in front of the chair, this position is also great for a foot and calf rub as well as a lovely scalp massage and shoulder rub.
Keeping a slow, gentle, rhythmic flow to your movements is key. Make sure your touch is nurturing to both your wife and your unborn baby—this is a time when your loving touch is felt by both of them.
Kneading and squeezing actions on mama's shoulders are best—don't put any direct pressure on the muscle, since some points are contraindicated. Use full hand movements beginning at the neck and sweeping down the back along the two sides of the spine—never placing pressure on the spine—all the way down to the sacrum.
You can use smooth, long strokes on her legs, and be sure to spend a lot of time on her feet. The feet go through a lot during pregnancy due to the increased weight mama is carrying.
Communication is important. Your wife needs to ask her midwife or doctor whether an at-home prenatal massage is okay for her. Oftentimes it will be fine in low-risk pregnancies, but there are some situations in which a trained, professional massage therapist is needed or massage is not recommended.
Check in with your wife about the pressure of your touch—too much pressure can be uncomfortable (sometimes we don't know our own strength!). Be sure to stop the massage at any point if she says she's feeling dizzy, nauseous or lightheaded. Make sure she knows to let you know how she is feeling throughout the massage and to let you know if anything becomes too much.
Be aware of precautions and warning areas in the body. Steer clear of using aromatherapy essential oils unless you have proper training and knowledge. Know where it is NOT safe to massage—stay clear of any deep work on the legs (blood clots/varicose veins). Keep the pressure light and don't hold any reflexology points that could stimulate labor.
Let this massage time become a part of your routine throughout your wife's pregnancy, and not just a one-time deal!
Caitlin McCann is a birth doula and licensed massage therapist who specializes in prenatal massages. Her company, Massage Doula, is based in Bradford, Massachusetts.