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From joy and excitement to anxiety and pain, a pregnant woman wears her emotions on her face. When her legs swell or her back aches, those physical issues manifest as negative

facial expressions. Full-body massage can certainly alleviate edema and pain, but you can also induce relief with just a few minutes of gentle facial massage.

Val Guin, doula and creator of Forearm Dance™ who specializes in functional movement and body mechanics, said facial massage is tantamount to reflexology for the feet.

“Just like feet, points in the face represent organs in the entire body,” she explained, noting that the technique of face mapping dates back more than 5,000 years.

To address specific pregnancy-related issues, you’ll want to focus facial massage on, around and under the nose, around the mouth and laugh lines, and under the chin. These areas correlate to particular parts of the rest of the body. For instance, laugh lines correspond to the hip.

“If your expectant client’s right hip hurts, rub the side of the nose where the laugh line is and the pain will diminish,” Guin said.

To alleviate nausea, she recommended massage around the nose and upper lip.

Another common complaint during pregnancy is tension and anxiety, which may trigger headaches. To reduce the discomfort, Guin recommends gently squeezing the bridge of the nose with two fingers, moving up to the eyebrows.

“This helps to open the neck and shoulders, promotes the flow of energy and alleviates a tremendous amount of angst.”

Working the back of the neck in a soft, slow circular motion from behind the ears up past the hairline will also relieve tension.

At some point in the pregnancy, your client may bemoan her “fat face.” Guin explained that swelling in the jowl area relates to edema in the legs; massaging upward toward the eye and outward toward the temple helps to relieve the swelling in the lower extremities.

Guin emphasized the importance of using mild strokes, regardless of the area you are massaging.

“Always use gentle pressure with the fingers slightly curved upward when you touch the face. The soft touch is safe and works well on several different levels,” Guin noted.

Be sure to exercise special sanitary precautions with your pregnant clients.

“If you’ve used oil for a full-body massage, be sure to wash your hands before touching the face. The same thing goes if you’ve touched the feet,” Guin said. “Hands to face is the main reason we get sick. Germs get in through the nose and mouth.”

Guin added that regular facial massage throughout your client’s pregnancy will alleviate many symptoms.

“Pregnant women have to stay on top of these issues,” Guin said. “Facial massage makes a difference in how a pregnant woman feels and looks. It helps her carriage, gait and energy level.”

The next time your expectant client walks through the door, take a good look at her expression. You just might be able to give her spirits a lift with a gentle facial massage.

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Belltown Spine & Wellness, an integrated health and spinal rehabilitation center, has helped thousands of people over the past 22 years regain their health and vitality through their natural, integrated approach to health and wellness in the greater Seattle area. Our services, which include chiropractic, spinal rehabilitation, massage therapy, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine and medical weight-loss are customized and targeted for each individual's health goals. Our signature 4-step program is specifically designed to help patients recover from neck and back pain chronic conditions. This system, created by Dr. Scott Mindel, Seattle chiropractor and owner of Belltown Spine & Wellness draws on the latest rehabilitation techniques available today.

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