Benefits of Prenatal Massage
In addition to the fact that massage during pregnancy just plain feels good, there are many other benefits for the mom-to-be and her baby, too. A study conducted by Dr. Tiffany Field at the University of Miami School of Medicine showed that massage actually reduces stress hormones in the body. Touch is vital to the mother’s physical and emotional well being as she adapts to her new body image. Regardless of individual circumstances, a pregnant woman’s body is challenged, changed and stressed in many ways. Massage gives special attention to the mother-to-be, which in turn nurtures the new life that grows within her.
Benefits of prenatal massage include:
* Emotional support and nurturing touch
* Relaxation and decreased insomnia
* Stress relief on weight-bearing joints, such as ankles, lower back and pelvis
* Neck and back pain relief caused by muscle imbalance and weakness
* Assistance in maintaining proper posture
* Preparing the muscles used during childbirth
* Reduced swelling in hands and feet
* Lessened sciatic pain
* Fewer calf cramps
* Headache and sinus congestion relief
At what trimester can I have a massage?
Because of the tremendous physical and hormonal changes that occur in the expectant mother, we do not recommend any massage during the first trimester. In our opinion, this is the time for the mother to get comfortable with being pregnant. The second and third trimesters are wonderful times to begin prenatal massage. It is always best to consult your doctor.
Is Prenatal Massage for You?
Massage during pregnancy is usually safe for most mothers. Your massage therapist will want to know if you are having any problems or complications with your pregnancy before you begin. If you are, then we recommend approval from your primary health care provider before proceeding with any bodywork. The following are circumstances in which massage should not be performed:
* Heavy discharge (watery or bloody)
* Contagious illness
* V omiting
* Unusual pain
* High blood pressure
* Morning sickness
* Abdominal pain
Any malignant condition In addition to these areas, one other precaution needs to be mentioned: Direct and sustained pressure should not be applied to the area between the ankle bone and heel. This area is considered by many massage therapists and reflexologists to relate with the uterus and vagina, and it is thought that heavy pressure to this area could promote early labor. Assuming there are no other precautions or considerations, it should be all right to massage the rest of the feet.
How is the massage performed?
Pregnancy massage can be done in a number of different ways; we provide a special pregnancy table. The pregnancy table is specifically designed for expectant moms, no matter how far along they are, to lie flat on their stomachs. It accomplishes this with a deep center cutout in the table/pillow, so that bellies are accommodated and moms-to-be are relaxed and comfortable.
After the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, lying flat on your back can cause pressure on deep blood vessels, due to the growing baby, thereby reducing circulation to you and your baby. To avoid this problem, pillows can be used to ensure that you are lying down and looking at the wall rather than the ceiling. Body pillows are especially effective for the side-lying position.
What about after I have the baby?
Postpartum massage is designed to help restore the body to its pre-pregnant condition. It also addresses the stress of carrying and caring for a newborn. It can speed the recovery by bringing relief of sore muscles and help the mother to relax more easily. Abdominal massage helps shrink the uterus and relieve subcutaneous scar tissue. It may be given as early as 24 hours after delivery in a vaginal delivery but only with written permission from your doctor or midwife.
No matter where you are in the childbearing year, massage may have many benefits for you and your baby.
Information provided by Kelly Lott, RMT