Emotional support and nurturing touch, relaxation and decreased insomnia, stress relief on weight-bearing joints, such as ankles, lower back and pelvis, neck and back pain relief caused by muscle imbalance and weakness, assistance in maintaining proper posture, preparing the muscles used during childbirth, reduced swelling in hands and feet, lessened sciatic pain, fewer calf cramps, headache and sinus congestion relief.
The following are circumstances in which massage should not be performed: heavy discharge (watery or bloody), diabetes, contagious illness, fever, vomiting, unusual pain, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, morning sickness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, any malignant condition.
In addition to these areas, one other precaution needs to be mentioned: Direct and sustained pressure should not be applied to the area between the ankle bone and heel. This area is considered by many massage therapists and reflexologists to relate with the uterus and vagina, and it is thought that heavy pressure to this area could promote early labor. Assuming there are no other precautions or considerations, it should be all right to massage the rest of the feet.
Pregnancy massage can be done in different ways. Pregnant women may lie on their sides to be massaged, and they can actually lie on their bellies, since a specifically designed pillow has made it possible for expectant moms, no matter how far along they are, to lie flat on their stomachs. It accomplishes this with a deep center cutout in the pillow, so that bellies are accommodated and moms-to-be are relaxed and comfortable. After the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, lying flat on your back can cause pressure on deep blood vessels, due to the growing baby, thereby reducing circulation to you and your baby. To avoid this problem, pillows can be used to ensure that you are lying down and looking at the wall rather than the ceiling. Body pillows are especially effective for the side-lying position. Because of the tremendous physical and hormonal changes that occur in the expectant mother, massage during the first trimester is not recommended. The second and third trimesters are the recommended times to begin prenatal massage. Massage can be performed anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour, depending on how much time you have and how much discomfort you are experiencing.