by Pat Mayrhofer
As spring approaches, we think of new life. There is nothing more sacred than the new life of a child and nothing more beautiful than an expectant mother. A woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy, as does her mental and emotional state. Research has shown that massage lowers anxiety, decreases back pain, helps with leg pain, improves sleep and decreases stress. Incorporating stones significantly enhances a prenatal massage.
As beneficial as massage is during pregnancy, there are many considerations to take into account when massaging manually or with stones. This article will focus on clarifying contraindications for prenatal stone massage.
- All manual contraindications apply for stone massage.
- Avoid massage during the first trimester when miscarriages are most likely to occur. Massage itself will not cause a miscarriage, but the therapist needs to be mindful of liability.
- Avoid the reflex points on feet, ankles and hands.
- Do not perform deep-tissue massage or tapotement on legs, especially the calf and inner thigh, because of the increased danger of blood clots. You should always use strokes going toward the heart.
- Hot stones should not be used on the abdomen; only light pressure is recommended. In the late stages, therapists may feel the baby move toward their hands.
- Exercise extra caution with high-risk clients and only with a doctor’s permission.
- Do not perform a full-body massage, especially in the late stages of pregnancy; spot work is recommended.
- Make the expectant mothers comfortable by having them lie on their side and supporting them with pillows.
- Do not raise the core temperature of the body.
It is important to maintain good core temperature when working on an expectant mother. Hot stones are a wonderful tool for relieving muscle problems and comforting the mother-to- be. A full-body hot stone massage is contraindicated; however, spot treatments for problem areas in the low back and neck are particularly helpful. To maintain a normal core temperature while working with hot stones, place cold stones under the hands, neck and on the feet. If you are unable to keep the cold stones on the feet, then wrap the feet with a cold rag.
Cold stones offer incredible therapeutic value. During the gestation period, many women feel warmer than usual, so the application of cold marble stones provides a welcomed relief. The cold marble stones are valuable in releasing muscle strain and tightness.
Placement stones are quite beneficial during manual prenatal massage. Place warm or cold marble stones under the trapezius muscles or under the glutes. Remember to always use a barrier for hot placement stones. If the stone is warm, then it can be placed with caution, but remember to check that it is not too warm to damage the skin. Cool or cold marble stones can be placed directly on the skin with no adverse effects. Marble is a soft stone and has the tendency to absorb heat and inflammation from the body, where other stones deposit cold.
A therapist should have training from a qualified instructor on prenatal massage before offering massage for a pregnant client. There are quality seminars available from many experienced instructors, like Carol Osborne and Kelly Lott.
It is a rewarding experience to massage an expectant mother through her pregnancy, to work with her weekly or monthly to help keep her stress level down, and to keep her muscles relaxed and loose as they support the added weight gain. Regular massages through pregnancy help to prepare the muscles for the hard work they will do at the time of delivery. The therapist can then follow up with postnatal massage, which will help the new mother relax and get back in shape.
Please look for future articles on www.MASSAGEmag.com, as I explore the exciting arena of stone massage. I will write about safety issues, contraindications, the expansion of stone therapy to different modalities, the evolution into cold-stone therapy with marble stones and now the resurgence of stone massage with the innovation of carved basalt stones. I will also discuss accessory products, such as massage oil, essential oils, heaters, textiles, DVDs and seminars. I look forward to an ongoing conversation with you.
Pat Mayrhofer is president and founder of Nature’s Stones Inc., an international massage-stone, and education and supply company. She is a massage therapist with more than 15 years of experience, having taught for 13 of those years in Italy, Austria, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Mayrhofer and her staff have created a comprehensive series of live, hands-on training programs, educational DVDs available for distance learning and a line of associated stone and textile products. For more information, visit www.naturestonesinc.com.