4 things to know about a 1st Trimester massage
1. In most cases, massage is perfectly safe
Short Answer: There is a lot of mis-information out there ranging from old wives’ tales, to outdated information, to liability concerns regarding massage and the 1st trimester. However, unless there are certain conditions present, properly done massage in the 1st 3 months of pregnancy is safe and can not cause harm.
More details: It is even occasionally still taught and a policy at some places that there should be "No Massage In The First Trimester". Why? Medically speaking, if a pregnancy is going to end in a miscarriage, it will likely happen during the first trimester. If this happens it is usually due to a genetic, hormonal, or other issue that is 100% out of the control of external forces. Nonetheless, it is usually taught to not get a massage because in the rare case that a miscarriage does happen, nobody wants to risk the chance that what they did will be the cause. If the massage was done with the proper precautions, and there are no underlying conditions such as a history of miscarriages, bleeding disorders, or anything else high-risk, a massage should not cause any problems.
2. May help calm morning sickness
Short answer: While we can not give a massage if someone is actively vomiting, a gentle massage may be able to calm the feelings of nausea and help relax the body so that food stays down better and the sick feeling subsides.
More details: Morning sickness sucks. Not only because it isn't limited to just the morning, but it adds anxiety and issues to an already anxious mind and makes a newly-changing body feel even worse. Massage may not be able to stop the nausea, but it can help the body calm down so that the symptoms are not as severe and life can continue somewhat as normal. In the case of severe morning sickness, or Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a doctor will need to be involved and consulted due to the high risk of dehydration and medicinal intervention to manage the vomiting.
3. It’s pretty much like a regular massage
Short answer: For most people, in the 1st trimester, the body has not yet started to change to the point where they can not lay and move any differently than normal, so the massage reflects that. A few minor changes in laying on the table to accommodate for nausea or sore breasts, and a few massage stroke modifications are the only differences.
More details: If someone is familiar with getting a massage, then a first trimester massage is not much different than a regular one. Some of the modifications we make are elevating the head a bit on a pillow or wedge when laying face up, and some gentle propping or pillows in case the breasts hurt or of there is any discomfort while laying face down - yes, during the first trimester, it is usually still ok to lie face down unless mom is extremely uncomfortable. Other than that, a few massage modification such as lighter pressure on certain areas of the body, and no percussive movements, are the only other changes which, if these were changes during a regular massage, the changes might not even be noticed.
4. May help calm anxiety and hormone-induced unsettledness
Short answer: A new pregnancy brings a lot of emotions and racing thoughts - whether it is the 1st or 4th pregnancy. Some are normal thoughts and concerns, others are brought on because hormones are going crazy. Massage can help calm this and stabilize things, bringing in relaxation and mental peace.
More details: There is a lot that a new mom can't control in the first trimester and a lot going on in her head. From worries about her health, to the baby's health, to family, to finances, to job concerns, to lots of other things. These concerns are not helped by increased hormones being released specifically to help the pregnancy along, but can still cause unwanted side effects for mom. Massage can help balance the hormones and release the good, calming hormones while neutralizing the stress hormones, and helping everything settle down. There will always be concerns and lots of racing thoughts, but massage can help give the new mom some calm, quiet time to herself to make herself feel better, and give her a boost of confidence that her self care will ultimately be an extra step in giving her new baby a good head start.