If prenatal massage is done by a licensed massage therapist, it is safe and can be very helpful, says Dr. Mitchell Kramer, an obstetrician and medical director of The Women's Center at Huntington Hospital.
Therapists can use either a specially designed pregnancy table - one with an opening in the middle to accommodate the belly - to allow moms-to-be to lie on their stomachs or can offer a "side-to-side" massage technique where the belly is supported by pillows as a therapist works on the left side and then the right, he says.
Relaxation techniques can lower blood pressure, decrease stress and relieve pregnancy-associated strains on the legs and feet, Kramer says. "If you have a relaxed, happy mom, you have a happy baby," he says. His caveats: Always clear it with your obstetrician first, and don't allow massage of the belly area.
Here's where to go on Long Island.
Duration and cost: 1 hour; $65 through the end of May (normally $85)
The pregnancy table at Healing Hands has an opening for belly and breasts. "We call it the Cadillac table," says owner Cindi Prentiss Lattanzio. Healing Hands also can do a side-lying massage. The massage is full body with emphasis on certain areas. The session can include gentle stretching of the neck and other tension-filled areas. If you're experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, you can get a massage but you need a note from your doctor approving it, Lattanzio says.
Client Danielle Butler of Port Jefferson Station, who is 37 weeks pregnant, says that because she has a 2-year-old daughter at home already and runs a consulting business, the massage gives her the chance to relieve the stress of her active lifestyle.
Duration and cost: 1 hour; $74
"That's one of our specialties," says James Smith, one of the owners. The salon has a cushion system in the process of being patented especially to allow mothers to lie face-down or face-up. "They can have triplets in their belly, and we can still accommodate them," Smith says. "It's your standard massage experience, just more customized."
Duration and cost: 1 hour; $78
This center recommends waiting until after the first trimester for prenatal massage to ensure mom doesn't have a high-risk pregnancy, says office manager Raquel Estevez. But after that, massage is fine up until delivery day, she says. The center uses a specialized table with the belly opening. "This is the only time they get to lie down on their belly when they're pregnant," Estevez says. That can be a treat in itself. Each massage is focused on the needs of the mom, with the majority of the complaints being lower-back pain, sciatica and leg pain. "Every pregnancy massage will be different," Estevez says.
Duration and cost: 55 minutes; $60
"We have what's called a body cushion that goes on top of the table and has a cutout for the stomach and breasts," says Maureen Long, owner and massage therapist. "Even at nine months and ready to give birth, women are able to lie on that pillow." If a client isn't comfortable with that, Long will do a side-lying massage.
Insurance companies don't reimburse for prenatal massage, and Long has lowered her prices to try to make it more affordable. "Our massages are a lot less, so that our clients can come in more often. We just decided to make a business decision and lower our costs." Long essentially does a Swedish massage, but addresses issues such as constant lower-back ache and fluid buildup and gives clients at-home techniques to relax.
Swedish massage done with light to medium pressure and proper positioning, designed to safely relax the entire body.
Duration and cost: One hour; $100
Swedish massage that focuses on areas of tension. Please bring in doctor’s note.
Duration and cost: One hour; $120
Swedish massage and gentle acupressure on tension areas.