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The benefits of massage
Q: I've been having back pains and have read that there are a few kinds of massage for your husband to give that can make you more comfortable in late pregnancy. How can we learn more about the various kinds of massage? Is one preferable over the other?
Dan and Nikki Sarasota
A: Dear Dan and Nikki,

Massage is a wonderful way to ease stress, soothe aching muscles, relieve backaches and neck stiffness, and connect to each other as a couple. Being massaged may allow you, Nikki, to relax, release tension that contributes to back pain and insomnia, and enjoy Dan's caring and loving touch. And Dan, you may feel satisfied to play an important role in Nikki's care while you deepen your connection to this pregnancy.

If you are already experienced at massage, continue to do massage that feels comfortable. The main modification in late pregnancy is to position Nikki on her side rather than flat on her back or belly. Use pillows to support Nikki's belly, and place another pillow between her legs. Alternatively, you could use a massage table designed for pregnancy that has a hole cut out for pregnant bellies, allowing Nikki to lie face down. Use gentle strokes and avoid doing things that feel awkward or painful. You can massage Nikki over light clothing, or try using oil on bare skin for a special treat. Even a 5- or 10-minute foot or neck massage can be very welcome and soothing.

If you are newcomers to massage, there are a number of sources to help you begin. There are books and videos on the topic of prenatal massage. There are childbirth educators who teach massage techniques, or can refer you to experienced massage providers who might be willing to give you a tutorial. Occasionally, I've seen classes for couples on prenatal massage, so see what is offered in your community.

Have fun exploring what feels good to each other. After becoming masters of prenatal massage, you may wish to learn another valuable skill—infant massage! This can be a wonderful way to stimulate and soothe your newborn.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist