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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

Pregnancy and Massage: 2nd Trimester

During the Second Trimester of pregnancy, the body starts to feel a little more normal, despite the rapidly changing body shape and structure. As the

body changes, some areas get sore more often. Massage can help these aches and pains from getting too bad too fast.

You may be feeling- Starting to see a bump: Baby is growing every day and is starting to need room. Normal clothes may still fit but are starting to get tight, so looser or stretchier clothes may just start to feel more comfortable. The bump may be very pronounced, or may at first just look like a little extra weight around the middle, it could go higher on the abdomen or lower, and can change shape and location throughout. Always an adventure! During this span, baby's movements will usually start to be felt, even if it is only a small flutter when sitting in certain positions. Also exciting is that usually ultrasounds can start to pick up pictures that look more like a baby and less like a fuzzy peanut, and the baby's gender can often be determined.

How massage helps: With the new bump, laying flat on the stomach, and laying flat on the back becomes much more uncomfortable, if not impossible. We switch massage to a side-lying position with support for the growing bump, and cushions, bolsters, and pillows to keep the hips and neck aligned in a neutral position. Since the bump can vary in size and position, the side-lying cushioning allows for maximum support and comfort without making the body move or stay in a position that strains anything.

You may have- Hip and low back soreness: As baby starts to grow, muscles get pulled, and the bones of the hips and pelvis move to accommodate the growing baby. This creates a lot of pulling and straining on the muscles in the hips and low back, extending up into the sides and middle back. Plus, as the weight in front increases, posture changes which also puts strain on the muscles and bones

How massage helps: Massage loosens up and calms the tight and achy muscles. Massage softens tight muscles and brings circulation to the sore areas which in turn flushes out the lactic acid from overworked muscles, plus it softens the muscles that are all getting stretched out and angry.

You may have - Sore and tired legs: As the weight above increases, both blood volume and fluid levels increase, and gravity is no joke, so all of that extra stuff gets pulled down into the legs. This may make the legs feel extra heavy and tired.

How massage helps: Massage can flush out the legs and get that extra fluid pushed back into the lymph nodes and where the body takes care of it. Massage on the legs from here on is usually much lighter and more flowing because with the increased pressure and blood volume, there is a greater chance of developing blood clots or varicose veins, so the massage is done lightly to not encourage or aggravate any conditions that can't be seen.

You may have - Ligament Pain: As bones shift and muscles stretch, ligaments stretch and can be painful. Ligaments connect bone to bone and they aren't fond of stretching, so as bones, especially the bones in the hips and pelvic area, start to move to make room for baby, those ligaments can get painful.

How massage helps: Massage helps the ligaments that don't usually stretch more receptive to movement and can help them relax and feel better.

You may have - Stretch marks and itchy skin: As the belly starts to grow, the skin starts to stretch. This stretching can be itchy and uncomfortable and depending on various factors, can leave stretch marks.

How massage helps: The lotions used in massage can help with hydrating the skin. Also, massage helps increase and improve circulation so that means more internal moisture moving around so it helps make your skin more pliable and stretchable so that the stretching is easier and may leave fewer marks.

How is massage different in the second trimester? The biggest difference is positioning on the table. Massages are now done side-lying, or laying on the side with pillows to support the body and belly so that the back, legs, and all other areas usually reached by massage can still be reached. Additionally, instead of lying flat on the back, additional props, cushioning, and pillows are used to sit more upright to help with comfort. The massage itself focuses more on the lower back and hips because those areas are starting to get painful. Pressure on the legs also eases up as fluid volume increases. The massage does still focus on providing a calm and relaxing environment so the mom-to-be can get back some energy and overall feel better.

When should massage not be done in the second trimester? If anything comes up that a doctor is watching, check with the doctor first , but also tell the massage therapist. With some conditions the doctor may say "find a way to relax and take it easy" and people can translate that as "get a massage" but that isn't always the best solution. It is always important to communicate anything and everything going on with the massage therapist. Conditions that may make massage contraindicated would be things like high blood pressure, preeclampsia, bleeding or spotting, premature labor or contractions, DVT or blood clots, anything that requires bed rest, or any other conditions the doctor is watching.

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