Pregnancy Massage – The importance of Side Lying

Pregnancy Massage – The importance of Side Lying

Whether you’re pregnant in the first trimester or third trimester, pregnancy massage is safe provided you seek treatment from a qualified pregnancy massage practitioner. I often see on social media pregnant women asking for recommendations of where to get pregnancy massages from. Most often I see responses such as “They have the bests with belly cut out so you can be on your tummy” or “I was even able to get on my front with my belly in a hole.”

Before I underwent my training through Pregnancy Massage Australia, I used a belly pillow which I thought was safe. However, it doesn’t support the baby (although suitable for modalities in which a pregnant lady isn’t lying on her belly for a long duration). A massage practitioner requires a set up that fully supports the baby.

I put mother and baby’s safety and comfort first.

The question remains, can I lie on my belly at all whilst having a pregnancy massage?

Yes, you can!!!

Up until second trimester, it is safe for you to lie on your belly. This means you can lie on your belly throughout your first trimester…Is it safe to have a pregnancy massage during your first trimester?  YES, provided the therapist has been trained and in pregnancy massage.

In my clinic, once my client is 14 weeks pregnant, she side lies.

It is not advisable to be in a prone (lying face down) throughout your entire pregnancy massage, nor lying flat on your back in a supine position.

What happens if I lie face down (prone) in the 2nd and 3rd trimester?

As the uterus and baby expand during this time, lying face down creates added stress on the body. It may contribute to:

  • Strain and pressure on ligaments
  • Increase in lumbar lordosis (as your centre of gravity shifts forward) creating musculoskeletal issues of the lower lumbar region, gluteals and legs.
  • Due to the hormone relaxin, joint laxity is increased
  • Direct compression to the lumbar region can increase intrauterine pressure
  • Breast discomfort and sinus congestion

What happens if I lie on my back (supine) in the 2nd and 3rd trimester?

  • A syndrome known as supine hypotensive syndrome may present whereby the uterus presses on the inferior vena cava (a major vessel for blood to return to the heart). By compressing this vessel for prolonged periods of time results in low maternal blood pressure and decreased circulation to both mother and baby. Therefore, a mother may feel dizzy, shortness of breath or other discomforts.
  • It increases pressure on the lower back and sacrum.



Benefits of Side Lying during pregnancy

  • It is comfortable
  • It supports labour and women also breastfeed their baby in this way.
  • Lying on your left side reduces pressure on the inferior vena cava
  • No pressure on the lower back
  • The whole body can be treated

What does a treatment look like when you come and see me?

As a Nurture Life® practitioner, I have the tools to assist with the many changes a woman’s body encounters from week to week. I deliver specialised massage treatment that focuses on nurturing both mother and baby. Each session begins with a consultation, which allows me to review any changes the body has undergone, and treat accordingly in a safe manner.

Author's Details:

Elizabeth Cessario


Pregnancy and Childbirth by Susanne Yates
Pre & Perinatal Massage Therapy by Carole Osborne
Pregnancy Massage Australia by Catherine McInerney

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