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We prefer a prenatal massage cushion (vs cutout table) as it slightly elevates the stomach and provides less gravitational pull on the belly.
What is prenatal massage?
Prenatal (or pregnancy) massage shares many of the goals of regular massage – to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots, improve circulation and mobility, and just make you feel good. But it's also tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies. Therapists who are trained in prenatal massage adjust their techniques accordingly.
Most women find it uncomfortable to lay face down right from the start of pregnancy because of their tender, swollen breasts. And you can't lay face down on a traditional massage table once your belly has started to grow. On the other hand, it's not a good idea to lie flat on your back either, particularly once you're past mid-pregnancy, because the weight of your uterus puts too much pressure on the vein that returns blood from your legs to your heart.
For these reasons, some prenatal massage therapists use a special table or pad with hollowed-out areas and special pillows to accommodate your belly, and often your breasts as well, so you can lie face down. If you find this position stresses your lower back you can lay on your side with pillows, wedges, or a full-length body pillow for support.
At Krave, instead of a prenatal cutout table, we use a pregnancy massage cushion which is still designed for lying face down, but applies less pressure and pull on your growing belly as it keeps you somewhat inclined rather than flat as a cutout table does.
How can prenatal massage help me?
Massage may decrease stress and promote relaxation, helping you cope with discomfort even if your massage doesn't specifically alleviate or prevent it.
Carrying a baby inside you changes your center of gravity and puts a lot of stress on your back, neck, abdominal muscles, and shoulders. Pregnancy also relaxes your ligaments, so that your pelvic joints are less stable, and changes your posture, pulling your pelvis forward. Add to that the extra weight you're carrying and you may find you've got an aching lower back.
A trained prenatal massage therapist knows where a pregnant woman's sore spots are likely to be and may be able to provide some relief. He or she will also know which areas and techniques to avoid. Still, it's important to communicate with the therapist your areas that need the most attention.