After massaging hundreds of expectant moms, it’s easy for me to see the benefits that pregnancy massage can have. Easing sore muscles, sciatica pain, aiding in sleep and relaxation are only some of the positive outcomes that I commonly provide to my clients. Yet there are still so many myths related to pregnancy massage that continue to be circulated. Many of these myths are founded in old wive’s tales and not backed up by evidence. Let’s debunk the three most common ones that come up:
1) Avoiding massage in the first trimester
A common thread that I see is moms coming into my office later in their pregnancy. This is usually because somewhere along the line, a well meaning person has told them to wait until after the first trimester to get a massage. There is often concern that massage in the first trimester could be risky to the growing baby. This is simply untrue. Many women get massage therapy, chiropractic care, work out, and continue their usual hobbies throughout their entire pregnancy, including the first trimester. In fact, many women find that massage in the first trimester can help prevent issues arising later in pregnancy such as sciatica and low back pain. Women going through subsequent pregnancies often come earlier for massage as their symptoms tend to arise sooner.
2) Its not safe to do deep tissue work
Another common thing I hear is to avoid deep tissue work while pregnant. I’ve heard complaints from moms who went to a massage appointment but the therapist would not give them the pressure that they needed to feel relief. Think about this; a growing baby is tucked safely inside the uterus, cushioned by amniotic fluid, and then further protected by the spine, uterine ligaments, and thick layers of musculature. The amount of sheer force to cause harm to a growing baby would require superhuman strength. I’ve used deep tissue work to effectively treat stubborn low back pain in pregnancy, sciatica, neck and shoulder pain, and even leg cramping.
3) Working on feet and ankles can cause labour
If I could get women’s labours to start by massaging certain points on their feet I’m sure I would be a millionaire. Doctors would be sending me their over due patients in droves. So where does this myth originate?
Reflexologists and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners often use specific points to reflexively affect different organs. Many people find this work very effective in maintaining their overall health. However, science has proven that fetal lung development triggers the onset of labour. There is absolutely no medical evidence linking uterine contractions to reflexology points. If a 24 hour induction can’t get a baby out before their due date, neither will massaging your feet. Plus what mom wouldn’t want a great foot massage during pregnancy?