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How to practice Abhyanga during pregnancy

woman applying body oil

Pregnancy is a special time in a woman's life. Her body is going through tremendous changes, and it's important to take care of herself both mentally and physically. One way to do that is by practicing Abhyanga, a traditional Indian massage technique that has many benefits for both mom and baby. Abhyanga is a great way to promote circulation and relaxation, and can help reduce stress and swelling.  It can be done at any time during pregnancy, but is especially beneficial in the third trimester when the baby is growing rapidly. If you're pregnant, or expecting to become pregnant soon, here are some tips on how to practice Abhyanga safely and effectively in each trimester.


What is Abhyanga and how can it help during pregnancy

One of the easiest and most powerful traditional Ayurvedic practices we can do on our own is Abhyanga (warm oil massage). When we apply oil, the body becomes more flexible, and able to bend with the challenges of life. We feel nourished, grounded and supple. This is an amazing practice for women before pregnancy, during pregnancy with modifications, and especially important postpartum! When the daily massage is done from early days, it helps to avoid the stretch marks, itching sensation and dark skin discoloration caused by pregnancy. Some studies revealed that self-massage performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Also it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts.

pregnant belly with oil on skin

The benefits of Abhyanga during pregnancy



Abhyanga is not just a massage technique but an Ayurvedic healing method. Healthy skin is a common benefit of abhyanga, which uses oil to nourish your complexion. The improvements in skin health include reduced appearance of wrinkles, cellulite and scars. Also decreased hyperpigmentation and the prevention or reduced appearance of stretch marks. Daily oil application will increase the skin blood flow and improve your skins smoothness and softness. You may experience improved skin elasticity which can reduce sagging breasts after pregnancy. Gentle skin strokes with oil are also believed by many practitioners and users alike to have additional benefits like calming nerves, relieving anxiety as well as better, deeper sleep.


How to practice Abhyanga during pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, its important to know the difference between a traditional abhyanga self massage and the recommended modifications to use. During pregnancy, the traditional abhyanga oil massage is not recommended. Typically, the practice of abhyanga is a strong, firm, and flowing massage technique. Its repetitive action allows the oil to soak through the seven layers of tissues in the body. Use the traditional technique before getting pregnant and in the postpartum phase. 

A daily gentle and soothing application of oil to the skin, especially your beautiful growing belly, is very beneficial during pregnancy. Think of lightly spreading the oil over your skin, allowing a minimum of 5-10 minutes for the oils to soak in. Then enjoy a warm bath or shower to rinse excess oil off. You can also apply the oil after a shower, while the skin is still slightly damp, and allow it to soak in while you relax in a robe or towel.


 Tips for getting the most out of your Abhyanga practice during pregnancy

rub pregnant belly with oil in bath

1. Begin with thinking of love. This routine is a time to offer yourself self-love. The Sanskrit word for “oil,” sneha can also be interpreted as love.

2. Warm the oil (not hot, just warm). Use oil in a glass bottle and place the bottle in a pan of hot water to gently heat it up

3. Sit or stand in a warm room, make sure you're protected from drafts. When you’re comfortable in your own skin, that is when the true nourishment happens.

4. Massage the body for 5-20 minutes, with love and patience. Don't rush this process. Give a little extra time and attention to massaging the oil into your scalp, ears and feet, at least once a week.

5. When you massage your feet, be sure to wash them first when you shower, so you don't slip.  Put on a pair of cotton socks to protect your floors/carpets from the residual oil on your feet.

FAQs about Abhyanga during pregnancy

1. Can I do abhyanga (self-massage with oil) while pregnant?

Abhyanga in its traditional form with deeper rigorous strokes isn’t recommended during pregnancy, but a gentle application of oil to the skin is generally okay. Gently massaging with warm oil into the skin can be grounding for the nervous system, help foster calm emotions, and support healthy, supple skin. Talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have.

2. What types of oil should I use for abhyanga during pregnancy?

Sunflower and coconut oil are great for all skin types, sesame oil can also be used. We also recommend Almond oil, shea oil, rosehip oil and avocado oil for extra nourishing skin benefits and preventing stretch marks and skin discoloration during pregnancy. For more information on the benefits of these oils, check out our blog post:  Best prenatal skin-care oils for relieving itchiness and stretch-marks.

In conclusion

Abhyanga is a form of ayurvedic massage that has been used for centuries to maintain health and well-being. The practice can be especially beneficial during pregnancy, when it can help prepare the body for childbirth and support the overall health of both mother and baby. In this article, we’ve shared everything you need to know about Abhyanga during pregnancy, from the benefits to tips on how to get the most out of your practice. We’ve also answered some frequently asked questions so you can feel confident incorporating Abhyanga into your prenatal care routine. If you’re looking for an all-natural way to support your health during pregnancy, give abhyanga a try! Looking for the best oils to use in prenatal self-massage? Check out our next blog post: Best prenatal skin-care oils for relieving itchiness and stretch-marks.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Yoga Mama products and this information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional.  

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