Pregnancy can be one of the most amazing experiences in a woman’s life but it can also present a number of challenges. A pregnancy massage can offer significant relief from tension, swollen joints and sore muscles throughout the pregnancy. Massage at any stage of your life has enormous benefits. During pregnancy, a prenatal massage can offer significant relief to a range of pregnancy-related symptoms.
What is a prenatal massage?
A prenatal massage is a full body massage offered to a woman through the course of her pregnancy to ease pregnancy-related symptoms. A qualified prenatal massage therapist can help you to relax, calm the mind and release the tension in your body using specific techniques to support you and your unborn child.
When receiving a prenatal massage, your practitioner will discuss your overall health condition, previous pregnancies, where relevant, as well as any specific symptoms you are experiencing through the course of your pregnancy.
A prenatal massage is usually offered with you lying on your side with your top leg and abdomen supported. Lying on the stomach is usually not comfortable and can place undue pressure on the lower back.
We believe the side lying position offers a number of positive physical and psychological benefits for both mum and baby, and is a safer option. This position puts less strain on the muscles in the lower back and supports a more relaxed position. Side lying also gently lengthens the spine, reducing the effects of lower back pain. At the same time, this position supports the abdomen whilst allowing the massage therapist to work all areas of the body easily.
Is prenatal massage safe throughout the entire pregnancy?
Women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy. Some practitioners prefer to massage a woman entering her second trimester, as the first trimester can present increased risk of miscarriage. However, where a pregnant woman is generally healthy and has had no history of miscarriage or issus in the existing pregnancy, a gentle massage in the neck, upper back and shoulders can still be very helpful.
A prenatal massage at the end of the pregnancy can be very helpful in easing symptoms and carving the way for an easier labour.
What are the benefits of a prenatal massage?
1. Eases anxiety & insomnia
There is ample evidence showing that massage can ease anxiety and symptoms of depression. This evidence also extends to prenatal massage. We know that massage received during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, ease symptoms of depression, as well as improve sleeplessness and insomnia. In fact, some research points to a reduction in cortisol levels decreased which, in turn, saw decreases in depression and anxiety. Prenatal massage simultaneously relaxes the nervous system and releases feel good hormones, helping to promote improved sleep.
2. Reduce Swelling
One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is swelling to the feet, legs, ankles as well as the hands. This is often caused because of the increased pressure placed by the heavy uterus on the major blood vessels. This, in turn, can reduce circulation to the most peripheral parts of the body. A prenatal massage can help by stimulating lymphatic flow, encouraging release of toxins and thereby reducing swelling. Massage also eases fluid build up in swollen joints, and particularly ankles and hands.
3. Relieve Lower Back Pain
Pregnancy massage improves lower back pain and sciatic nerve pain caused by the weight of the uterus pressing on the lumbar region and the pelvic floor. by addressing the tight muscles in the affected area. Prenatal massage increases blood flow and helps release the tension that can be brought on naturally by pregnancy.Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women report experiencing a significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through massage.
4. Natural Pain Relief
Prenatal massage offers a natural, safe, drug-free alternative for pain relief. This is beneficial since the use of medications is limited during pregnancy for the safety of your baby. The increased blood flow to your tissues and the relaxation your body will experience during and after a session can significantly alleviate many of the common discomforts of pregnancy.
5. Prepares Your Body for Labor and Birth
Prenatal Massage can help you have an easier labour. This is for several reasons. Firstly, regular prenatal massage helps reduce your overall stress levels. It also releases muscle tension and keeps muscles toned. Leading up to labour, this is particularly important. but also because of how well it can keep your muscles toned and relaxed in advance of the start of labor. Studies show that women reportedly had shorter hospital stays, easier and shorter labours and fewer cases of post-natal depression when receiving regular massages.
There may be some cases where a prenatal massage is contraindicated. For this reason, is important to consult with your massage therapist if you have/are experiencing any of the following.
- High-risk or multiple-birth pregnancy
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH)
- Preeclampsia – Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal.
- Previous pre-term labor or miscarriage
- Experiencing severe swelling, high blood pressure, or sudden, severe headaches
- Recently gave birth
Our practitioners are fully qualified in prenatal and post-natal massage. Call to make a booking.
Written by Rosa Ghidella, Director, Haberfield Health