Pregnancy and Prenatal Massage

Pregnancy and Prenatal Massage

Learning How to Massage Pregnant & Prenatal Women?

I’ve written before about the community service style of massage clinics that are a part of the clinical experience at the school I am attending.  For our class, we had a choice between:

  • Elder Massage:  This is offered in clinical classroom as a traditional 90 minute massage session on a group of seniors who have been determine by the physicians to be able to receive massage.  Honestly, this group of elders enjoy this so much that they often work with multiple classes receiving 1-2 massage a week for 5 weeks at a time…repeatedly throughout the year.  Oh…and they like deep pressure!
  • Long Term Care: In the interest of confidentiality, I’ll just say that this is opportunity to do 90 minute sessions with individuals living at a long term care facility or assisted living facility.  These individuals typically receive massage in their wheelchair or bed.  Some (few and far between) receive their therapies on a massage table.   These folks are also vetted by the physicians and approved to receive massage from students.
  • Pregnancy or Prenatal Massage: This involves working with an expectant mother who is beyond 20 weeks gestation.  The 20 weeks gestation is less of a safety concern and more related to understanding the later stages of pregnancy and the nuances related to massage therapy (positioning and symptoms).   In this course, the ladies receive 5 massages in a 5 week period.  What a gift for a pregnant mama!!

Prenatal Massage

My assignment was in the prenatal class.  I was working with a first time Mama to be.  Pregnancy massage seemed a bit challenging to me.  Perhaps it was the side-lying positioning or the fact that I was really working on 2 people at once.  Either way, it took me a couple of sessions to really feel comfortable with this.

When I started my clinical work, I had a plethora of friends and family who were willing to make the 2 hour drive to my school and allow me to work with them for 90 minutes.  These sweet folks really let me figure my way around the human body and served as guinea pigs for my initial fumbling attempts.  But, I really started to learn more and become more comfortable when I stepped out of that comfort zone and began working with the general public.

People I had never met before were now on my table with the expectation of a reasonably competent massage session.  These individuals knew that I was a student and they had all signed waivers allowing for these sessions (which are supervised by an instructor).

Some Questions To Ask

How does your school handle clinical experience?

Are the clients only folks that you are recruiting?

Does the school or facility have a list of individuals you can call to schedule?

What is the fee structure for these sessions?

Where do these monies go?

These are all reasonable questions to ask in the admissions process.  I have done almost 50 clinical sessions at this point…and to be honest, I still have some reservations about my skills.  I’m comfortable with a basic massage and I think I have some mastery of anatomy and kinesiology….but put a naked stranger on my table and my palms will still get a little sweaty!

Community Service

Community service clinical massages are a great way to meet people who aren’t your typical clientele.  I hadn’t placed my hands on a pregnant woman in a therapeutic setting before this experience.  I needed to step outside that comfort zone and understand the intricacies of side lying positioning…and how to not stop the session to watch her sweet babe kicking back at me.

Bodily reactions to massage can run the gamut.  Snoring, twitching, ticklish bodies, erection, flatulence (or breaking wind as my Papa would say) are all completely normal reactions for people to have on the table.  Think about it…massage is a stimulus…in the most clinical definition.

But, watching this soon to be mama have a break from her hectic world while her baby let me know that he was alert and ready to rock…that was awesome!  So, know that you will be nervous about your clinical experience…let your body have that feeling…and then rock the session!  Until next time…breathe.