It's no doubt that pregnancy can be a wonderful time, but the journey over nine months can be fraught with many different symptoms and ailments. Our bodies undergo huge changes at each stage. Anyone who's ever had a professional massage knows that both body and mind feel better afterwards, and the same goes for prenatal massage.
WHAT IS A PRENATAL / PREGNANCY MASSAGE
Pregnancy massages are adapted for the anatomical changes you go through during pregnancy. In a traditional massage you generally spend half the time on your stomach (which is not possible now your pregnant) and half the time facing up (again a position that puts pressure on major blood vessel - the vena cava, that can disrupt blood flow to your baby and leave you feeling nauseous).
But as your shape and posture changes, a trained massage therapist will make the necessary accommodations, be sure to check that your massage therapist has had training in this field.
SOME OF THE BENEFITS YOU CAN EXPECT
Improved sleep quality
Getting good quality sleep becomes harder as your pregnancy progresses. Pregnancy massage relaxes the nervous system and releases feel good hormones.
Lowers stress and anxiety levels
Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone. When a pregnant women is introduced to massage therapy as part of her prenatal care, the level of cortisol in her body is reduced significantly, improving mood, vitality and immunity.
Lessens swelling of the joints
Oedema is the medical term used for swelling. It can be a common occurrence during pregnancy and is caused by reduced circulation and extra pressure on the blood vessels. Massage can help stimulate the soft tissue, move the extra fluid and reduce the swelling, leaving you feeling more comfortable.
Alleviates muscle pain and cramps
The exact reason for leg cramps during pregnancy has not yet been successfully determined, but it is thought that the extra load on the leg muscles may well be a factor, along with low levels of magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium and the lack of blood flow through the muscles could also be a cause.
Lowers the risk for premature birth
Stress in a big no-no for pregnant women. When we are stressed the body releases a stress hormone (cortisol), mothers who experience more stress are more likely to go into labour early.
Pregnancy massage is effective in lowering anxiety and depression in expectant women, thus lowering the risk of premature birth.
Prepare your body for labour and birth
Pregnancy massage can help to ease pain and reduce anxiety in the first stage of labour. It may help you to cope with your contractions by making them feel less intense and more manageable.
Sciatica and SPD pelvic pain
Pregnancy hormones (relaxin) relax your joints and muscles in preparation for you to give birth. Both of these conditions can cause discomfort and even hamper mobility. Prenatal massage for sciatica will focus on the lower back, hips and glutes. Whilst for SPD I would work to reduce the tightness in the muscles attached to the pelvis, as these muscles house the nerve endings that cause the most pain experienced related to SPD.
WHEN NOT TO MASSAGE
As long as you are having a low risk pregnancy there should be no reason why you cannot enjoy the many benefits pregnancy massage can bring. There are however some pregnancy conditions which are contraindications to massage.
DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS (DVT)
PLACENTA PROBLEMS (Including PREVIA, ACCRETA or ABRUPTION)