When I was in college, my parents and little brother came to visit me in my dorm room when I was setting up my bed in my dorm room. Cushy mattress topper, high thread count sheets, fluffy comforter, just the right pillows. Little brother asked why I had all that stuff. My mom explained that I had to build my little nest. Even on a skimpy first job salary, pillows and sheets were a priority for me. You see, I have always been a master of comfort, a queen of comfy if you will, plotting out blankets and pillow arrangements and scheming about how to get things just so to maximize snugness. I still remember my first restorative yoga workshop — bolsters and blankets, total immersion in finding new ways to be comfortable, to find deeper rest. I was smitten.
Similarly, I remember the very first time that I learned how to properly set up the side lying position in massage school. I was the demo body for the class, happily bolstered by my teacher, bundled in sheets, fully supported. It was bliss. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good prone/supine massage, pillow under the ankles when face down and under the knees when facing up to put some slack in the hamstrings and lower back, totally supported by the table. But there’s something about side lying that feels so luxuriously cozy. I’d say it was just me and my deep appreciation for being properly bolstered, but I’ve heard far too many people extol the virtues of this position to be so naive.
Just look at this lady from the Body Support Systems website — velour tracksuit and proper bolstering. How psyched is she? She looks pretty cozy to me.
In my massage practice, I use side lying position for prenatal massage. Not only does this position offer maximum safety and comfort, minimizing strain on uterine ligaments and the body as a whole, it is also a fabulous position to massage the lower back and hips, both of which are taxed and oft-complained-about during pregnancy. There are a number of reasons why side lying position is great for pregnant clients, but what speaks to me the loudest (and in a real, human voice to boot!) are the women who have struggled to get comfortable during pregnancy, tossing and turning at night, pillows not quite right, who have told me that being bolstered for massage is the most comfortable they have been in months. Can’t beat that!
This position can obviously be used for anyone — pregnant or not — who wants to try it out. Please let me know before your session if you’d like to give it a whirl so I can make sure to get set up for you. And, even though I use the fancy pants massage cushions shown above, I will happily discuss how to replicate supported side lying position with regular pillows so that you, too, can be a queen or king of comfy in your own home.
Yes. I have more than one client who took to sidelying prenatal, and after their baby was born, have no intention of ever going back 🙂
I agree sideline is extremely comfortable with the body cushions. Do you use the cushions for prone prenatal massage, too? Is this an issue in New York?
Hi Becky! I use the cushions for prone prenatal massage in the early weeks of pregnancy for women who love lying on their bellies and want to squeeze in as many opportunities to do so as they can. I have heard of massage therapists in New York who bolster in prone throughout pregnancy, but I am on board with the reasoning laid out by Carol Osborne Sheets in the article linked to in my post, and I follow those guidelines.
Thank you for your response. I’m familiar with Carol’s training, I’ve been certified. I do not follow her recommendations. I learned prone pre natal in massage school (pre Carol Osborne Sheets making a name for herself) and I still practice prone today as long as the client is comfortable with it. I absolutely disagree with a few of her points on the link (but thank you for sharing it). Our liability insurance covers with both methods: prone and sideline. If it was a risk to mother or baby they would drop the coverage in a heart beat. I was hoping to have some conversations on the benefits to prone vs. sideline. Keep up the good work. Love your blog and articles.
I should have said that, in addition to people I know of who bolster throughout pregnancy, there are definitely spas that have the tables with the belly hole for prone positioning. It’s definitely done, just not by me. To be clear, when clients have asked about prone positioning later in pregnancy, I explain that I use side lying (and why), but I always, always, always am honest about the fact that there are people who do it differently. Maybe not the level of discussion you were looking for, but you’ve inspired me to do some more thinking/reading refreshment, and I would love to hear more if there’s more you want to say on this topic (or if you have counter-to-what-I’ve-learned resources to recommend). Thanks for reading and engaging!
Prone is an interesting discussion. I don’t tend to use it much after the first trimester, but it depends on what you are doing with the client, types of techniques and how long you use it for so I don’t consider it is absolutely contra indicated. I discuss it in more detail also in my book Pregnancy and Childbirth. I am a big fan of side lying but also in third trimester forward leaning as this way gives much better positioning for deeper access to sacrum and helps with baby’s position too!
Suzanne Yates http://www.wellmother.org
I don’t consider it absolutely contraindicated either. Thanks for sharing, and for sharing your info — I’m always interested in hearing about different ways that people work.
This makes me want to get pregnant right away so I can be uncomfortable again and then made more comfortable by you!
Ha! Do it! I will do my part to keep you comfy.