Soothing touch for prenatal health and comfort
As a licensed massage therapist who has practiced prenatal massage for years, I understand the unique physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy. While this is a time of joy and expectation, it also can mean new aches and pains with each passing month. Fortunately for expectant mothers, prenatal massage offers welcome relief from those discomforts as well as reducing stress and anxiety.
Prenatal massage is a fast-growing field that is gaining the interest of labor and delivery nurses, midwives and obstetricians. It has achieved popularity as we search for alternative approaches to traditional healthcare services.
Prenatal massage shares many of the same objectives as regular massage - enhancing the function of muscles and joints, improving circulation and relieving emotional stress and fatigue. The difference is that prenatal massage specifically targets pregnancy related symptoms.
Benefits of Prenatal Massage
A woman’s body goes through tremendous changes during pregnancy. The rapid weight gain causes changes in her posture and center of gravity. As the abdomen grows the curve of the lower back increases and the knees rotate outward. These changes put additional strain on the muscles of the lower back and hips and cause pain.
Prenatal massage from an experienced professional offers a wide range of benefits, which include:
- Eases backaches, headaches, shoulder and neck aches that may be caused by muscle tension and shifts in posture to accommodate increasing weight
- Decreases pain in pelvic/hip area
- Increases circulation
- Reduces fatigue
- Improves skin elasticity that can help reduce stretch marks
- Helps reduce swelling in such places as hands, lower legs and feet
- Can alleviate the stress on weight-bearing joints, like the knees, which are impacted by the extra weight of a growing baby
- Promotes relaxation and deep breathing
In addition to the fact that massage during pregnancy just plain feels terrific, some of the most powerful effects come with the relief it brings from depression, anxiety and stress caused by pregnancy’s hormonal changes.
Benefits for baby too
As a woman shares her body with her developing child, she can also share the benefits prenatal massage brings to the body, mind and spirit.
Massage can help release stress hormones that build up in the body, keeping you tense and fatigued. This can help prevent complications associated with pregnancy. Taking time to get pampered can be emotionally uplifting and a relaxing massage allows pregnant women to unwind and feel healthy and comforted during a period of added physical and emotional stress. All of this helps nurture the baby as well as the mother.
Some women choose to incorporate elements of massage during childbirth to cope with delivery and it can be a therapeutic treatment after pregnancy as the body returns to its normal state. New moms are also learning how to bring the benefits of touch therapy to their children through infant massage.
Is it safe?
Massage during pregnancy is usually safe, but all expectant mothers should check with their doctors prior to getting a massage. Because of the tremendous physical and hormonal changes that occur, prenatal massage is not recommended until after the first trimester. The second and third trimesters are excellent times to begin prenatal massage.
A properly supported side-lying position or use of a special “Prego Pillow” are the safest ways to receive prenatal massage because pregnant women should not spend extended periods of time on lying on their backs. Reflexology treatments should also only be given by therapist trained in that art because of the hormonal changes of pregnancy.
It is important that you share information about your condition and your personal preferences with your massage therapist before you begin. The therapist will adjust your massage to make it as soothing and beneficial as possible based on your individual needs. A skilled massage therapist will welcome questions and can offer a great deal of assistance and information during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a joyous time in a woman's life, but it can make the back ache. My prenatal massage features the 'Prego' pillow which is designed
to let you safely lie on your stomach. 60 or 90 minutes of relaxation!
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