Everyone talks about strengthening your pelvic floor or doing your kegel exercises. But do you know what that means and how to do it?
Squats. Are you cringing or are you at one with them?
Squats are something you can do to help prepare for labour and the extra pressure your body is under during pregnancy. So we're big advocates for squats around here.
New Blends have hit Top Notch this month! To combine with our organic virgin coconut oil, we have been working with a Clinical Aromascience Practitioner in bringing more quality to our essential oil blends we have been using.
Sports and Remedial Massage
This blend will help with tired aching muscles, it is stimulating and warms the muscles, will
relieve stiffness, tightness, over worked muscles. The blend is also mildly anti-depressant and
uplifting. May assist in the healing of damaged nerves if used regularly on a particular problematic
area of the body (i.e.: joint injury, back injury etc.)
The benefits are anti-inflammatory, helps with poor circulation, gently diuretic, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, immune builder, anti-rheumatic, gently anti-depressant, uplifting.
This blend is very balancing to mood and hormones, it is strongly anti-depressant as well as
uplifting but also very calming. It will assist to relieve stress & anxiety, hyper-ness & panic. The
blend also has muscle relaxing properties.
The benefits are antidepressant, antispasmodic, analgesic (pain relief), gentle stimulant, immune builder, anti-inflammatory, restorative, antiviral, antiseptic, calming, muscle relaxant.
This blend is very uplifting and refreshing, it is great to relieve irritability, it will also assist
in relieving aches & pains, is a great tonic to the skin too. It should promote a great sleep the night
of the day the massage is given.
The benefits antidepressant, antispasmodic, analgesic (pain relief), gentle stimulant, immune builder, anti-
inflammatory, restorative, antiviral, antiseptic.
Massage during and after pregnancy is quite popular with us at Top Notch Massage Therapy, this due to the growing evidence towards the mental and physical rewards it provides.
We do get a lot of questions by a lot of mum's, including their husbands, partners, friends and family uncertain if pregnancy massage is beneficial and how it may help, especially if they are someone who does not receive regular massage therapy.
Some people can be nervous about getting massages, especially when we are pregnant. So I am here to alleviate some of those concerns.
I’m going to talk through a few questions that we often get.
The first one is how safe are pregnancy massages?
We have a lot of women seeking massage and asking this question because they are unsure whether they should have a massage in pregnancy. At Top Notch Massage, all of the team who deliver pregnancy massage have been professionally trained in New Zealand to a high standard, by a pregnancy massage specialist to deliver pregnancy massages. Here at Top Notch, we have therapists who can treat from conception right through to birth.
Our therapists frequently see a lot of women coming in presenting with various discomforts in pregnancy, and it is so important that you are getting someone who is specialised in supporting you through that process, and that you are in safe, nurturing hands to get the most benefit out of your treatment - which is very very important for our mum's.
For example, if you are or have experienced terrible lower back pain, you will know especially as you get closer and closer to your due date, it can become very sore and you probably would not want anyone to come near you.
So why would pregnancy massage help you?
With the discomfort of the lower back scenario, you would have seen your LMC and discussed this with them, and then be coming into us knowing confidently that if there is any changes in your pregnancy that we understand the language that is used in pregnancy and we know how to treat you.
This is due to our therapists scope of professionalism and training which really helps. We are guided by what you need and what you have told us. We are here to really support you, so you no longer have to be in pain in your pregnancy.
Is movement important during pregnancy?
We do advocate remaining active during pregnancy - so if you caught our post about maintaining activity during pregnancy there are many benefits such as
I’ve discussed pain and discomfort, but you don’t have to be experiencing pain or discomfort to get a pregnancy massage either.
If you think about the stresses and anxiety that pregnancy can bring on for some mums, so they can feel that they need just some "time out". Almost like ‘mindfulness massage’ - just that "mum time", time for her to just re-energise, be more in tune and in connection with her baby and your pregnancy.
So if you have friends or family who would benefit from a pregnancy massage please tag them in or share this with them.
If you would like to contact us with more information please send us a message! We are only too happy to help!
The answer is absolutely 100%.
Booking in for a pregnancy massage is a very sensible option for pain relief and relaxation throughout the whole journey of your pregnancy.
Now you may have seen or been told that the first trimester is not a good time to get one however that myth has slowly drifted off into the sunset (thank goodness). But it still lingers among the profession with some massage therapists still urging caution.
Let's look at what you, as a pregnant women, might do in a day - you might go for a walk, run, or do yoga; lift numerous things (heavy toddler alert), bend and twist, do school runs, oh yeah and you'll clamber up the bench to clean the top cupboard in the kitchen with no ladder – the list goes on. Now compare this to a massage, where you lie still.
Which one do you think is going to be the least strenuous? You got it...massage because a typical pregnancy massage will require you lie in a position which is relaxing - psssst it's similar to sleeping. So there should be no cause for concern unless you are under the care of a specialist, or your condition is not suitable for massage regardless if you are pregnant or not, as we will touch on below.
Why should I get a pregnancy massage?
Massage is beneficial for everyone and pregnancy is no exception. For exactly the same reasons you would choose to relieve aches and pains, or any emotional stress. Massage is a natural, safe and drug free alternative for pain relief.
The common discomforts experienced during pregnancy are
Our massage therapy sessions will focus on your needs, because your experience of pregnancy is very different from the next. We start with your pelvis, hips, lower back and we then move up between the shoulder blades and around the upper shoulders and neck. We can also do a full body session where your arms, legs and feet also get attention.
What is the safest position to be massaged in?
All positions used in massage therapy are safe, however, the position we advocate for and use at Top Notch Massage is side lying. For some of you, this position is how you sleep at night and we often hear our mum's breathe a sigh of comfort as they snuggle under the blankets. Side lying is very beneficial for accessing all of the areas you may be experiencing issues with.
We use approved bolsters such as the Mumanu™ pregnancy pillow (see video below) which helps to keep your posture correct and relaxed to avoid placing stress on the lower back and pelvis, ensuring maximum comfort. Designed by a Pregnancy Massage Specialist and the only pillow endorsed by the Osteopathic Society of New Zealand and BirthWorks International, the Mumanu is the best pregnancy pillow / low back pain pillow on the market.
[And yes! We are as gutted as you are that Mumanu pillows are no longer in stock!]
Why are my ankles are swollen?
It is normal to have swelling in the ankles and feet, especially in the third trimester because you are retaining more water. Sometimes it is just pure genetics that you will have it. What you need to be aware of is ‘sudden swelling’ which can be a sign of deep vein thrombosis, preeclampsia or cellulitis. Massage therapy can sometimes assist with fluid retention, however, outside of your massage session it is more beneficial to go for walks and keep active. The muscles in your legs (and around your chest) will act as a natural pump mechanism which assists with drainage of the fluid in your tissues, and also helps to return the blood in your veins back to your heart.
I’ve heard that I should not get massaged around certain points like my 'ankles' or up near my shoulders?
There is much misinformation out about pregnancy and prenatal massage. It’s really distressing to me as a therapist to hear these ‘myths’, because some of it is downright harmful and incorrect. In some countries, pregnancy women traverse sweltering, endless deserts; rugged, arid mountains; and frigid, unforgiving tundras and nothing happens.……but if we rub a specific area this is bad? Hmmmm, so OK let’s talk about these areas.
Here is an example - Your ten weeks pregnant and in a session, your therapist has told you they will avoid massaging your ankles because you are still in your first trimester and this may cause you to have a miscarriage. Ok, so then a couple of weeks later you experience the misfortune of a miscarriage but then you later remember when you had an itch and scratched around your ankle, or your ankles were aching, so you got your partner to rub them, or you you rubbed them. This gets you thinking, by touching those areas based on what that therapist told me, did I cause the miscarriage. Which is utterly rubbish and a horrible thing to even fathom.
If this was true then you should also avoid wearing socks and shoes for the fear of triggering these pressure points. There is no physiological reason to think any such reflex points cause miscarriage - it is just unfortunately around the time when a miscarriage may occur, due to many unidentified reasons such as genetic, uterine or hormonal abnormalities; tissue rejection; reproductive tract infections; but not because of massage therapy.
Yes, there are supposed to be reflex points in the body and they are everywhere - in the ankles, feet, hands, back (both upper and lower), tongue and ears. But if massaging these areas caused miscarriages (or induced labor), then we would not be able to massage pregnant women at all and the human species would not have thrived as it has. And if I could be so bold as to say there would be absolutely no requirements for anyone to use Family Planning clinics or need to be medically induced.
Why do I need to get clearance if my pregnancy is considered high risk?
There are of course a few things we like to keep an eye on. In New Zealand, pregnancies are usually managed between you and your leading maternity carer, or you will be referred to and managed by a specialist. At Top Notch, we like to know about who is managing your pregnancy and whether you are under specialist care, especially if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, any organ dysfunction (kidney or cardiac etc) or pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, syndromes, or neurological signs and symptoms’. This is so we can accurately assess whether massage is right for you, or that we have you booked in with the right therapist who has had the right training and expertise to understand your condition.
Take some time out for you
As a mum or 'mum to be' you tend to give so much and sometimes your needs get put on a back burner, so we feel that it’s such a gift to be able to give you the emotional support and a nurturing touch during this amazing time of your life!
If you know of anyone who is having difficulty managing their pregnancy and you want to send them to someone you can trust, let them know about us or share this link with them.
If your loved one really needs some TLC then book them in, or perhaps get them a voucher. Whatever your choice, we will be excited for their arrival.
Anj Young - BAHSc (Human Biology), RMT
Video demonstrating how we use the Mumanu pregnancy pillow in our sessions. Please note, we also use the Memory Foam Contour Pregnancy Pillow Wedge to provide a neutral position for your belly (baby) to rest on.
A lot of people ask what is pregnancy massage and how is it different from a regular massage. The most difficult thing about this question is where we should start!
Pregnancy has many physiological and psychological changes which a women will journey through. The physical changes can cause stress and or discomfort to the mother, and massage is a wonderful way to help alleviate many of these discomforts, as well as promotes a sense of well-being.
What is pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage is beneficial throughout the entire nine months of the pregnancy; however, if you are having a high risk pregnancy it is best to discuss your condition with your midwife or physician before seeking a therapist. After doing so you may be able to receive massage work with a written release.
At Top Notch Massage and Health we use the side lying positioning which nicely supports your whole body. Side lying is one of the highly recommended positions to use after 22 weeks. It alleviates the compression placed on the major vessels which lying on your back will cause, resulting in decreased circulation; vital to you and your baby. We use highly recommended support bolsters to ensure maximum comfort, and you will be draped in soft fleece to keep you nice and warm in the winter, and nice cool sheets in the summer months.
All our therapists are certified in pregnancy massage which is important in not only supporting, nurturing and providing you with time out, but we also know and understand what is and what is not safe for you and your baby. Our knowledge spans across all trimesters and bodily changes you will undergo. There are many hormones which influence your ligaments during your pregnancy which bring laxity, especially around your back, hips and legs. This is where massage is key to alleviate the tension now placed on your surrounding muscles. We avoid certain areas during your pregnancy such as the area between your heal and ankle which relates to the uterus, it has been documented that deep pressure to this trigger point may cause early labour.
What to expect
Our pregnancy massage is 60 – 70 minutes. For your first visit we will ask you about how you are and how your pregnancy is developing. We will ask that you seek permission from your LMC if you do have a high risk pregnancy. We will do a quick postural analysis of how you are standing to gain a better understanding of how you go about your daily activities and advise any homework if needed! During the massage you will be supported with bolsters as you lie on your side. In the winter we drape you from top to toe with nice warm fleece blankets, or in the summer in soft cool sheets. We will only expose the area being worked. The room is heated or cooled to suit dependent on the season, and we like to play quiet and relaxing music in the background. We do encourage to avoid eating a large meal before the massage or drinking large amounts of liquids.
Benefits that a mother may experience:
· Reduces swelling in hands, feet and ankles
· Lessens sciatic pain
· Eases muscular discomforts in areas like the low back & neck, calf cramps, it also helps with
tension and tightening that can be experienced throughout the body
· Tones lose muscles relaxes tense muscles and can help increase flexibility.
· Helps with relaxation which in turn can decrease insomnia
· Increases blood and lymph flow which can help increase the elimination of toxins through the
circulatory and lymphatic systems, this can also help with fatigue.
· Increases oxygen in the blood, sometimes on up to 10-15% after a massage.
· Strengthens the immune system
· Stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain killers, into the brain and nervous
· Helps relieve anxiety or depression
· Helps increase blood circulation, which in turn delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the mother
· Can be used during the birth as well as after making both experiences easier and more comfortable
· Eases stress mothers often feel after the birth
There are many more benefits! We hope this list of how beneficial massage can be during pregnancy is useful.
Our therapists are qualified to deliver pregnancy massage therapy.