Pregnancy places massive physical stress on a woman's body, including joint pain, back pain and abdominal pain. But you should not ignore the effects pregnancy can have on your upper body, as well. For these discomforts, Indian head massage could offer relief and be safer for you than traditional massage. This therapy touches the upper back and shoulders, upper arms, neck, face, head and scalp.
Indian head massage stems from ayurveda, an ancient Indian medicine system that aims to balance the body, mind and spirit to prolong life. First records of this massage date from 5,000 years ago. Today, you can find mothers giving head massages to their children, and men receive the massage as a standard part of their hair cuts at barber shops. Indian head massage is also used as a part of traditional hair therapy for women.
Indian head massage uses acupressure on the head, neck and shoulders to relieve tension. A 30- to 60-minute session can use natural oils (usually sesame, sweet almond or olive oil) to nourish the hair and cleanse the pores. If you are in the first trimester, however, inhaling scented oils can trigger nausea. Some oils are unsafe during pregnancy (for example, jasmine, juniper and fennel) because they induce contractions. To be safe, you can ask your therapist not to use oils.
In India, pregnant women may receive head massages every day and at least 40 days post-delivery. Indian head massage allows you to sit in a chair rather than lie down for a traditional massage. Sitting is not only more comfortable, but it is also safer--lying down in later pregnancy can put immense pressure on your back and your arteries, restricting blood flow to both you and your baby.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to headaches than other women. According to research from the Institute of Indian Head Massage, these massages relieve headaches as well as congestion--another frequent annoyance in pregnancy. Pregnant women can also struggle with their concentration due to the high level of hormones in their blood. Indian head massage practitioners say it can increase alertness and the ability to focus. If you suffer from insomnia, head massage could also help you get a full night's sleep.
Despite the benefits of Indian head massage for pregnant women, you should avoid a massage if you have a fever, an active migraine, a head or neck injury or if you've experienced a recent haemorrhage. In addition, you should get your obstetrician's permission before scheduling an appointment. You should forgo an Indian head massage completely if you have a history of miscarriage or other pregnancy complications.