Pregnancy is a very special time that should be cherished, but as your body shape changes and your bump grows each week, it can bring about many aches and pains, especially in the latter stages.
Your skin will naturally stretch, causing tightness. Sometimes you may even get stretch marks or ‘mummy marks’ as we like to call them. Massage can be a natural way of soothing these ailments and helping to moisturise and soothe the skin at the same time.
When is the right time to start pregnancy massage?
You can either massage your own bump, or your partner can massage your bump for you. There's no evidence that it can cause any harm as long as you use soft, gentle movements. Even so, you may want to avoid it for the first three months, just to be on the safe side.
Massage later on in pregnancy is thought to have a range of benefits for you and your baby. For example, it may help you to relax, relieve aches, improve sleep and boost your circulation. It may also help to reduce feelings of anxiety and improve your mood in general.
From the middle of your second trimester onwards, your baby may move in response to your touch. Feeling your baby respond to your caress is very special, and may help to deepen the bond between you.
There's even a small amount of evidence that regular massage throughout your third trimester may help to ease labour pains.
Once you're into your second trimester and starting to show, why not give it a go?
Here’s a little guide on how to perform the perfect massage on your bump:
Choosing the right oil
Choose an oil or cream that allows your hands to glide smoothly over your bump.You should not use any essential oils unless they’ve been uniquely blended for pregnancy by an aromatherapist, as some may not be safe or suitable for pregnancy.
A body butter moisturiser or oil containing vitamin E (found in ingredients such as Babassu Seed Oil and Sacha Inchi) are also a great option, as it may also help to soothe itchy skin. Two of our products, the Rosehip Seed Oil and Body Butter create the perfect combination of oil and cream to use daily on your bump.
Over the course of your pregnancy, your changing shape may need a little assistance to help it grow and reduce again with ease. Not only will your circulation increase during pregnancy, meaning your skin can feel drier, you may experience an itchy tummy as your bump grows. Off course, there’s also the possibility of the dreaded stretch marks. Choosing an oil that helps to prevent stretch marks is a great idea; ticking off two essentials.
Before you begin your massage, shake your hands and arms to soften and relax them. Use strokes that gently glide over your bump and mould to the contours of your body. Don't use firm strokes directly over your bump or in your groin.
Begin at the sides of your bump and slowly move your hands into the middle. Gradually move your hands down towards your pubic bone, then along each side of your groin and back up to each side.
Repeat these motions, but this time move your hands up to your breasts, along the top of them and back down to the sides. Using the palms of your hands, move across and around your bump in overlapping "C" shapes. Keep one hand in contact with your skin at all times so that it feels like a continuous stroke.
As you touch your bump, imagine that you're caressing your baby as you will after he or she is born to help you connect with them.
Involving your partner
Your partner could also try massaging your bump. This may feel a little awkward at first, but once you're used to it, it's a great way to maintain closeness during pregnancy. It even lets him get in a little early bonding, and may help you both feel as though he's a part of the pregnancy. Relaxing music can also add to the whole experience.
How to position yourself during massage
After the second trimester, try not to lie flat on your back for prolonged periods, especially whilst asleep. It could make you feel faint and interfere with blood flow to your baby.
Instead of lying on your back, you could try:
- Lying on your side (preferably your left), to increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby. Support your body by placing pillows under your bump, behind your back and between your knees. Or, use a specially designed pregnancy pillow.
- Sitting upright on the bed, leaning back onto lots of pillows, with your legs crossed or outstretched in front of you. Place some cushions under your knees to allow them to bend comfortably. Your partner can either sit beside you or kneel in front of you.
- Kneeling or sitting on the bed or floor with your partner behind you, with your body and hips between his legs.
We hope our insight to pregnancy massage is beneficial to you and your bump. Give it a try and let us know if you love it. Feel free to share with your fellow mummies to be too!