Massage therapy during pregnancy, also called prenatal massage can feel indulgent but in reality it is very beneficial for an expectant mother. Moms-to- be go through uncomfortable physical and emotional changes during pregnancy but fortunately, some of them can be managed with regular massage. Studies have shown that massage during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease depression symptoms, and relieve muscle aches and joint pains.
The changes in progesterone levels cause ligaments and joints to become lax. A pregnant woman's posture shifts as her abdomen grows and the curvature of her back becomes more pronounced. The additional weight creates more pressure on the joints and it also slows down the circulation of blood and lymph. As a result, pregnant women can experience swelling. All these changes can add up to discomfort in muscles, joints and ligaments. Certain types of massage can help to reduce swelling and also improve the removal of cellular waste by stimulating the body’s lymph system.
In late pregnancy some women experience sciatic nerve pain as a result of the uterus resting on the pelvic floor and lower back muscles. Tension spreads to the leg muscles, causing them to swell and put pressure on the nerves. Because massage can help release that muscle tension, sciatic nerve pain can be decreased.
Pregnancy is life changing. It can be exciting and joyous and it can also be filled with doubt, anxiety and fear. The levels of the hormones associated with stress and depression are positively altered with massage, resulting in an improved sense of wellbeing.
Additionally, certain studies have found that the changes in these hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of low birth weight in newborns.
Finding the Right Therapist
Most massage schools teach the basics of pregnancy massage but I recommend you find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage. A certified therapist understands the changes that occur in a woman’s body. She knows how to position and properly support the mom-to -be on the table to avoid strain on the uterine ligaments. She is aware of the precautions that must be taken to ensure a safe session and she can watch for symptoms of blood clots and varicose veins.
As anyone with a child knows, once the baby comes your life will never be quite the same again! Take the opportunity during your prenatal months to do something that not only feels good but is good for you and your baby.
By: Lynne Gavrilis