FAQ: Pregnancy massages
One of the best investments in yourself during your pregnancy? A massage! More specific: a pregnancy massage. Why? ILJA BLAUW - masseuse and trainer at WELEDA CITY SPA - answers all your questions.
What’s the difference between a normal massage and a pregnancy massage?
“A pregnancy massage is more calm, more soft, and it focuses mainly on relaxation. Your body can feel more sensitive in general during pregnancy, so the massage techniques we use are gentle ones. Effleurages, for example, are long, light strokes that have a very relaxing effect. The positions are different, too, since you cannot lie on your stomach. And of course there’s the baby, who has an impact on the massage as well. If the baby is moving a lot, or not moving along while you’re moving, we will adapt the massage a bit. Also, we start the treatment with a more extensive questionnaire than normally, to make sure we’re up to date on how you’re feeling, how your pregnancy is going, if there’s anything we should know in advance.”
Do you use those massage tables with a hole cut-out in them, so I can lay on my stomach?
“I’m not saying those tables are a bad idea - there is something to be said for everything - but at Weleda City Spa we chose not to use them. This position, with your bump down, applies a certain pressure to your belly and your uterus, which is not natural at all. The friction between your skin and the table can be uncomfortable as well. We use positions that are natural during pregnancy: on your side, and - in the earlier stages of pregnancy - on your back. Let’s not forget that these are also the positions that the baby is used to, and is most comfortable in.”
What are the physical benefits of a pregnancy massage?
“Your blood pressure can drop, your heart rate can slow down and your breath can become deeper and more regular. All those physical things contribute to a more relaxed feeling. The massage techniques we use improve the blood circulation, which can help with swollen ankles or legs that feel tired or heavy. Also, we can relieve muscle tension or a sore back or shoulders. A pregnancy massage is not the remedy to pelvic instability or a belly that feels tight or uncomfortable, but through relaxation, we can reduce the sense of discomfort.”
And what are the mental benefits?
“A gentle, human touch can go a long way. It has been scientifically proven that a massage increases the amount of ‘happy’ hormones in the body. When you’re feeling relaxed, it’s easier to feel the connection with your baby, to bond with your baby. But also, it is a moment to be mindful of all the miraculous things your body is doing, and to appreciate all its hard work.”
From which week of my pregnancy can I book a pregnancy massage?
“During the first trimester, your pregnancy is vulnerable. Because massaging stimulates the blood circulation and can have an impact on the hormone levels in your body, we do pregnancy massages only after you’re 16 weeks pregnant. That’s a safe margin, just to be sure - better safe than sorry. After those first exciting weeks, women often feel more sure about their pregnancy as well.”
Do you massage my belly as well? I’m not sure if I like that.
“Of course, it is possible to massage your bump as well, and it can feel very relaxing. But then again, it’s only relaxing if you feel comfortable with it. That’s why we always ask in advance.”
What if I feel uncomfortable at some point during my massage?
“It is your massage, your ‘me time’ - so if at any moment you start to feel uncomfortable, always say so. Most of the time, we notice it already if someone is not at ease, for example if she keeps moving around on the table. If we have to build a fortress of 10 pillows to make sure you lie comfortably, we’ll do that. Is the room too cold, or too hot? Are you feeling dizzy? Just say so, we’ll find a way to make you feel comfy and relaxed.”
What kind of oil do you use for the massage?
“At Weleda we have a line of products designed specifically for pregnant women. Most women have an increased sense of smell during pregnancy, so we use a massage oil with a neutral and warm scent. It’s very nourishing on the skin as well, and we recommend you to use it at home as well. We don’t use ingredients that have a detoxing or repellent effect, such as birch water. We want to embrace what’s close, cherish the body, feel what it’s doing, and detoxifying ingredients do exactly the opposite of that, so we avoid using them. We end the massage with the scent of lavender, which has a very calming effect on both body and mind.”
Are massages safe all the way to my due date?
“Yes, they are, but the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with it. Especially near the end of your pregnancy, some areas of the body could use some extra care and attention. Your legs and feet for example can start to feel more heavy and tired, and since you can’t touch them anymore, we’re happy to help you out.”
Once I’ve given birth, can I book a normal massage again?
“You can book a normal massage, sure, but we also offer a ‘Mama (to be)’ treatment, which is for both pregnant women as well as new moms. The treatment lasts 110 minutes, and pays attention to your face - a treatment done by a beautician - and different areas of your body - we adapt it depending on the trimester you’re in. We also offer a version for the so-called ‘fourth trimester’, which has a little foot spa, a facial treatment and a relaxing massage.”
What are the benefits of a massage after pregnancy?
“They say ‘happy mom, happy baby’ for a reason. If you feel good, you can take better care of your baby, and that’s so important during that first postpartum period. A massage takes 50 minutes (or 110 minutes, if you go with our ‘Mama (to be)’ treatment) - just a little bit of time, but with a big effect on your body and your mood. Taking the time to get to know your body again, being grateful for what it has done over the past months, feeling proud of yourself - you deserve that, and a massage can help you feel those feelings.”