Pregnancy is a time of great change for a woman, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too.
Massage can help with all of these changes.
As a massage therapist myself I have known and experienced the benefits of massage for many years. Only recently have I been able to experience the benefits of prenatal massage. I have been lucky enough to have prenatal massages quite regularly since the beginning of my pregnancy. I would say that my pregnancy has been fairly uneventful so far and I believe that massage has been a major factor in keeping my aches and pains to a minimum. Carrying a baby (or babies) places unusual strains on muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which massage can ease.
What is Prenatal Massage
Many of us have had a deep tissue or relaxation massage and have experienced the benefits. The goals of a prenatal massage are essentially the same: to help you relax, de-stress, and address any areas of tension or pain so that you leave your session feeling ease and balance in your body and mind. However there are many considerations for the therapist during a prenatal massage such as specific pressure points to avoid, how far along you are, pregnancy induced health conditions and positioning.
Positioning during a Prenatal Massage
The majority of a prenatal massage will be done in the side lying position, propped with pillows for comfort. After the first trimester we no longer work in the prone or face down position, to avoid putting unneeded pressure on the abdomen and stress on the uterine ligaments. Also, during pregnancy, and depending upon what week you are in, we will work briefly with you lying on your back and shifted to the left side. This is to avoid compression of one of the major veins, which can cause low maternal blood pressure and decreased circulation to mother and baby.
Benefits of Prenatal Massage
- Eases muscular discomforts – These can include low back and hip pain or tension due to the ever increasing weight they are carrying in front
- Reduces swelling in hands, feet and ankles – When you are pregnant your blood volume increases as much as 40%, which can the stress the lymphatic system, and increase fluid retention
- Helps increase blood circulation, which in turn delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the mother and baby
- Eases Sacroiliac Joint pain and Sciatic pain
- Helps with relaxation which in turn can decrease insomnia
- Strengthens the immune system
- Stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, into the brain and nervous system.
- Helps relieve anxiety or depression
- There are studies showing that when massage is received regularly during pregnancy, it increases the likelihood of shorter less painful labor, and healthier babies.
Prenatal massage is beneficial throughout the entire nine months of the pregnancy; however, if you are having a high-risk pregnancy it is best to discuss your condition with your midwife or physician before considering a prenatal massage.
Happier and more comfortable pregnancy, shorter less-painful labor, healthier baby – what more could you ask for?
written by Kristen Loewenstein, RMT