Prenatal edema is a common condition, especially during the third trimester. In moderate levels, prenatal edema it is not a contraindication for prenatal massage. Massage therapists should use a lighter than normal touch with all fluid movement toward the heart. Some essential oils have shown to be beneficial for edema. These include geranium, lemon, rosemary, and patchouli. Several drops of one or a blend of these oils can be used in massage lotion or oil for pregnant clients with edema.
Massage therapists should be cautious with prenatal edema due to the fact that edema can be a sign of more serious conditions. It should be reported to the primary care provider for monitoring.
Severe prenatal edema can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. This is a condition that may cause the woman’s body to stop sending oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. It is estimated to affect 3 – 5% of all pregnancies in the United States (source: WebMD), and up to 14% of pregnancies with multiples fetuses. Symptoms include an unusual and rapid weight gain from excess water retention (edema), the presence of protein in the urine, and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Click here to watch a short video titled “Seven Symptoms Every Pregnant Woman Should Know” This is something massage therapists performing prenatal massage should watch for their own knowledge, and might want to use as a resource for pregnant clients.
If left unchecked, pre-eclampsia can lead to eclampsia (also known as toxemia). This more severe form of pre-eclampsia is life threatening to both the mother and baby. Symptoms of eclampsia include severe water retention, abnormal headaches, relentless back pain, sickness to stomach and/or vomiting, visual disturbances. It can lead to convulsions and coma. At higher risk for eclampsia are women with poor diets and high levels of stress in their lives, as well as previous history of high blood pressure, kidney problems, and diabetes.
It should be obvious that massage at this point is contraindicated and medical attention should be summoned at once.
Prenatal Edema and Massage
To learn more about prenatal edema, and other conditions and contraindications for prenatal massage, Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a certification course in prenatal massage. Click here for more details on becoming certified in prenatal massage. We also offer a course titled Pathology – Edema that covers the anatomy, symptoms, and causes of edema.
Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education approved provider. Our courses are valid for most states, as well as liability insurance continuing education requirements.