Now that your client’s pregnancy is advancing, you–as well as she–may find it challenging to make her comfortable during massage. Lying face up could place a strain on her back, and her growing belly would be in the way if she were face down. To solve the issue, you might consider purchasing a special pregnancy massage table. But before you invest any money in one of these specially designed tables, consider a few important factors.
Although pregnancy massage tables on the market today are created with considerable thought to materials, construction and design, they may not be the best option for your pregnant client. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) does not recommend tables with a hole cut out into which a woman’s uterus sits, noting that this position applies pressure to the abdomen. It also allows the abdomen to dangle, which stretches the uterine ligaments.
Nicole Trombley, C.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., owner of equilibrio, therapeutic massage for women and their families, part of the Birth Education Center of San Diego in San Diego, California, agrees. Her 10-year old practice uses neither special tables nor pillows with cutout sections that go atop a massage table, for several reasons.
She explains that no matter how well-constructed and designed, these tables still stress ligaments that often cause aches and pains in pregnancy. Massage aims to relieve these issues, so using a pregnancy table could exacerbate them. Trombley adds that if the client is lying face down, the added weight from the massage therapist’s body during treatment may increase intrauterine pressure.
Your client’s expanding torso may also make it difficult to lower her belly and breasts into precut holes. Turning over during the massage may be an overwhelming task for her as well. Trombley points out these tables and cushions usually come as one-size-fits-all. Certainly, all bodies are not the same and variations in each client’s size pose an extra challenge when it comes to a comfortable fit.
While physical discomfort and potential health issues are important to consider, Trombley also looks at the emotional aspect. She has found some clients simply feel uncomfortable lying face down, almost as if they are squashing their baby.
What about those large pillows with cutouts that cover the entire surface of a massage table? While this option may allow your pregnant client to lie face down with a bit more ease, she may still experience all the discomforts previously noted. Trombley notes these cushions do not leave enough space for the client to breathe, making her feel as if she is suffocating.
Some women also find they have increased sinus pressure during pregnancy. A prone position adds to that pressure and can aggravate the situation.
Your aim is to make your pregnant client as comfortable as possible during her massage. Finding the best position throughout her treatment is important, but a special pregnancy massage table may not be the right solution. It is best to conduct thorough research before purchasing equipment for a particular clientele.