There are two schools of thought on client positioning for prenatal massage therapy.
- Some therapists prefer to keep the woman in as close to fully prone and supine as possible to provide prenatal massage in the same positions as a standard massage. This is achieve with the use any number of specialty tables and support systems to achieve this purpose.
- Other therapists prefer to use a sidelying and modified supine position for performing massage therapy during pregnancy.
At the Institute of Somatic Therapy, we carefully considered positioning for prenatal massage. Our decision has been to teach in the sidelying and modified supine (semi-reclining) positions. The routine we teach focuses on the back and legs while the pregnant woman is in a sidelying position, and the abdomen, arms, neck and face when she is in a modified supine position.
Why IST Prefers Sidelying Positioning for Prenatal Massage
There are several reasons why the Institute of Somatic Therapy prefers sidelying positioning for prenatal massage rather than the use of a support system that allows for a fully prone position.
Some of our reasons for preferring the side-lying position include the following:
1. Potential Strain to Uterine Ligaments: With some prenatal massage tables, it can be difficult to get a perfect, firm fit over the abdomen, so uterine ligament strain can be caused. While the woman may not notice it during the duration of the massage, she may have some discomfort afterwards. Other systems do not provide good support for the legs, and others only allow for prone and don’t provide a way to modify the supine position to keep the weight of the uterus off the vena cava for the supine portion of the massage.
2. Ease for Client: As the pregnancy reaches the final trimester, it can be difficult for the client to get into and out of the prone position without assistance, and it can be difficult to assist an undressed client in and out of that position without compromising her privacy.
3. Cost Efficient: Most therapists already own a standard table, and can’t afford the expense of another table when it is not absolutely necessary. The cost of the sidelying and modified supine bolsters are often less than a specialty table.
4. Comfortable: A sidelying, fetal position is a very nurturing, comfortable position, one in which most people sleep, so it is very calming physically and psychologically.
5. Effective: A sidelying position places the client in a position which makes it very easy for the therapist to access her hip, IT band, piriformis, and sciatic nerve areas. These areas of the body are often in need of special focus to relieve the strain of the pregnancy. You cannot get the same access to these trouble spots in a prone position.
That being said, we realize this is a personal choice, and do not require our students to adopt this position if they have strong feelings about the prone positioning. Most of the techniques we teach are easily adapted into a prone position if that is what you and your client prefer.
Becoming Certified as a Prenatal Massage Therapist
To learn more about becoming certified as a prenatal massage therapist with Institute of Somatic Therapy, click here.
Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. Institute of Somatic Therapy is also approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states.