BASIC Questions you should ask BEFORE you schedule a prenatal massage appointment ANYWHERE!

This is a follow up to the previous post "Top Ten Signs You Are About to Get a Bad Pregnancy Massage."

We realize that for practical reasons, we won't be able to accommodate every pregnant woman in the Salt Lake Valley for massage... although we sure try!

If for any reason you go anywhere else for prenatal massage, these are the questions you should get answered BEFORE YOU SCHEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT.

If the therapist/staff cannot answer these questions, or don't answer them satisfactorily, be warned: You are about to get a bad pregnancy massage.

(At Salt Lake Prenatal Massage, you don't have to worry about any of this. :) Read about Salt Lake Prenatal Massage Staff qualifications here.

BASIC QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK BEFORE YOU EVER SCHEDULE A PRENATAL  MASSAGE, ANYWHERE!

1. Has the massage therapist completed at least 16 hours in prenatal massage training? (Most schools do not offer more than 2 hours of "prenatal massage" training.)

2. How many pregnant women has this therapist actually worked on? (I would hope the answer is 15 or more).

3. What percentage of the therapist's clientele are expectant mothers? (I would hope the answer is 25% or more.)

4. What kind of positioning and equipment do you use during a prenatal massage, so that she is comfortable and safe?

THIS QUESTION IS VERY IMPORTANT for your safety and satisfaction, and warrants a bit of education here.

This what I mean by
Side-Lying position for massage. (Although this is a physical therapist - for massage she would be undressed and covered with sheets and towels. )

Please understand that the vast majority of massage therapists offering prenatal massage or pregnancy massage will only perform a massage while you lie on your side, or some variation of the following:

  1. starting on one side first, then flip you over half way to the other side
  2. starting on one side first, then turning you face up, reclined on a stack of pillows or foam wedges
  3. have you lie face up while reclining on a stack of pillows or foam wedges
  4. have you sitting up in a chair, leaning forward against pillows stacked on the massage table

Please know that giving a massage in these modified positions is not likely the therapist's "A" game; massage therapists have hundreds of hours of practice working on people face-down....not on their side or sitting up. Only the therapists who do a LOT of side-lying massage - and there are some out there - are likely to be quite skilled at it!

Regardless...if you are told you must lie on your side, the facility should have support cushions specifically for this purpose, OR they should be ready and skilled with 5-8 pillows (read on).

This shows the basic setup of BodyCushions for good side-lying support. You still need to add a few more pillows to get it right, but this is the basic setup.

We use "BodyCushions" which work very well as side-lying positioners, but there is an "Oakworks" side-lying positioner that is ONLY for side-lying massage as well. So if the answer to "how do you accomodate a pregnant body for massage is: "We lie you on your side with BodyCushions" or "We lie you on your side with special positioning cushions"  or "we lie you on your side with several pillows for support" you are probably OK ....

...as long as you are OK getting a massage while lying on your side the whole time, and as long as the therapist has done at least 20 massages on clients lying on their side. (Some women find that dreadfully uncomfortable on their hips and shoulders.)

It is also possible the therapist could have a bunch of bed pillows ready to support you on your side, instead of fancy cushions. But they should be READY and SKILLED with those pillows. (We've heard tales of pregnant women in spas watching the therapist scramble for stacks of towels and pillows. Ugh.) For side-lying massage using pillows as support, in our experience you need 5-8 pillows to do this right, not 2-3. Watch how I demonstrate this here... which is also a great demonstration of how you should be sleeping at night!

  • LIKE! LIKE! This is a clothed pregnant woman lying face down on BodyCushions. This is a fantastic option for face-down positioning for a pregnancy massage.

    NOTE: The BodyCushions are also useable for face-down position during pregnancy, which is what we do here at Salt Lake Prenatal Massage 99% of the time. Many prenatal massage teachers or therapists say this is "dangerous" or "risky." It is not. We know how to do it right. Our client base consists of pregnant midwives, pregnant physical therapists, pregnant obstetricians, pregnant perinatologists, pregnant labor and delivery nurses... they can not see one single safety issue with the proper use of bodyCushions. 

  • Besides, most of our clients DREAM of lying face down and are so excited to do so! NOTE: If you go elsewhere and they do in fact have BodyCushions, this will work, but ONLY if the massage therapist has the FULL pregnancy set with extenders, not the basic 4-piece set. If they only have the basic 4-piece set, you can not lie face down safely, beyond approximately 20 weeks. This is a video that demonstrates the pregnancy setup for BodyCushions.

JUST SAY NO to "Pregnancy Massage Tables".

If they DO offer a face-down option, make SURE it is NOT a table with a hole in it or any other gadget for "face down" other than the full pregnancy set of BodyCushions! Tables with holes do not adjust for tall or short or heavy or skinny women or belly size or breast size. They strain and cramp the lower back, and they also create pressure on the breasts - even worse, some "pregnancy belly hole" tables have removable plugs in the chest area for breasts. Come on.... cookie cutter? Not adaptable to your body at all. A Google Images search for "pregnancy massage table" yields all of these not-so good options that you can see here.   

I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR MASSAGE THERAPIST SAYS...PLEASE DO NOT LIE FACE DOWN ON A FLAT MASSAGE TABLE IF YOU ARE BEYOND YOUR FIRST TRIMESTER. DO NOT LIE OR EVEN SLEEP FACE DOWN ON YOUR BELLY IF IT IS SHOWING!

While I'm at it... PLEASE DO NOT LIE FACE UP ON A FLAT MASSAGE TABLE IF YOU ARE BEYOND YOUR FIRST TRIMESTER.

So to recap, acceptable answers to question #4: What kind of positioning and equipment do you use during a prenatal massage, so that she is comfortable and safe?

a. On your side. We use special side-lying support cushions to support her body. Our therapists are very skilled at this and have many hours of practice.

b. On your side. We use several pillows and wedges. Our therapists are very good at this and skilled at this.

c. Face down using orthopedic Body Support Cushions called "BodyCushions," and face up in a reclined, supported position past 16 weeks of pregnancy. Yes, we have the FULL BodyCushion setup for pregnancy.

d. In a reclined, supported position. We use several pillows and wedges.

e. Any combination of the above.

Less-than-acceptable answers to question #4: What kind of positioning and equipment do you use during a prenatal massage, so that she is comfortable and safe?

a. Nothing. Pregnancy massage is the same as any other massage and doesn't require any special considerations.

b. We have special pregnancy tables with holes in them for your belly and breasts.

c. We have special cushions that let you lie face down during pregnancy. No, they aren't called BodyCushions.

d. Flat on your back. or Flat on your belly.

e. What do you even mean by that question?

f. We sit you up in a chair.

g. On your side with a couple of pillows. I think.

h. We just use some towels and pillows to prop her up here and there.

(And if, after reading this, YOU are the one explaining this to your massage therapist because you know more about pregnancy massage positioning than THEY do, it's a pretty good clue that you really should go elsewhere.)

Comments and Questions Welcome! Have a lovely and SAFE massage!