As your client progresses through the different stages of her pregnancy, you’ll find that her changing shape may pose some challenges. Safety and comfort for your client is always the key concern. With some advance planning, you can ensure that she receives an effective, safe massage from the time she announces her big news until the day she brings baby back for a visit.
During the early stages of pregnancy – up to 12 weeks – your client may not require any special accommodations. Using your usual equipment should still allow your client to rest comfortably in a prone or supine position without any risk to her or to the developing fetus. Still, you can offer some TLC at this stage, as well as in the remaining stages of your client’s pregnancy.
Why not consider an extra-cushiony face cradle just for moms-to-be? A typical model provides some cushioning, but can apply pressure to the sinus area. Since pregnancy tends to enhance sensitivity, it makes sense to invest in a face cradle that is pliable and gently supportive. The material covering the cradle can also make a big difference. Ultra-soft fleece leaves no facial lines, and luxurious satin can make your client feel particularly pampered.
Once your client passes the first trimester, you’ll need to make some adjustments. Pillows that conform to your client’s growing belly enable her to lie face down, thus relieving back and neck pain while providing support for the uterine area. While your client rests comfortably, you’ll be able to give her the optimal massage. Side-lying pillows allow your client to switch positions and still maintain the support and comfort she needs. Be sure to look for products that are versatile and work for any stage of pregnancy.
Bolsters make a good alternative since they are longer and thicker than pillows or cushions. Depending on the type and size, bolsters can be used to support the neck, lower back, arms and lower legs. An air bolster can be adjusted to accommodate the size of your client and the particular area that you are massaging. Like pillows, some bolsters are designed to be used when your client is side-lying, which may be a more comfortable position for the mom-to-be as her pregnancy advances.
If your budget allows, a specially made table with a cutout for your client’s growing belly and breasts is another option. You’ll find a variety of manufacturers, materials, options and accessories on the market. When selecting a table made especially for pregnancy massage, be sure to do your homework. Tables with a hole, but no support for the client’s belly, may be uncomfortable and dangerous. Models with an abdominal sling support the pelvis and alleviate pressure on the uterus.
Before tapping into your bank account though, do some research to ensure that the products you are buying come from reputable companies that cater to the therapist who does pregnancy massage. Also, take note of the construction and materials in these products; toxic chemicals or substandard materials and workmanship can compromise your good intentions. Finally, always remind your client to check with her doctor before getting a massage.