Pregnancy is an amazing process. As a child I was in awe of pregnant women – I would see them in the grocery store, or walking down the street, and be amazed at the abundant belly, filled with life. Playing at home, I would stuff a pillow under my shirt and pretend to be expecting. I could not wait to be pregnant, thinking that it was all beauty and bliss! That childhood wonder eventually led me to become a Doula, followed soon after by my Massage Therapy certification. When I became pregnant with my son, I discovered that as beautiful and miraculous of an experience pregnancy is, for me it was rarely blissful.
I was lucky in my pregnancy to feel relatively well throughout, despite the major exhaustion during the first trimester and wicked restless leg syndrome during the third trimester. There were two things that made me feel my best: massage, and the amazing anti-gravity effect of floating in the pool. From my experience as a Massage Therapist, I knew that receiving regular massage would greatly benefit both my son and me.
Studies have found that prenatal massage is proven to reduce depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain in expecting mothers.
- In addition, it improves pregnancy outcomes such as reducing premature deliveries and lowering cortisol levels in both mother and baby. Massage helps your body relax and adjust to the changes that pregnancy brings.
Massage truly shifts the hormone balance: decreasing the “stress hormones” and increasing the “feel-good hormones”.
- Anyone who has had a massage can attest to how much better their body feels after a session, and when you’re pregnant, it’s even better!
Prenatal massage utilizes Swedish massage techniques that help to both flush the lymphatic system and relax muscle tension.
- This combo may help to decrease edema and pregnancy-related discomfort when done on a regular basis. As the growing baby puts pressure on blood and lymphatic vessels, women often begin to have swelling in their feet, legs, ankles, and hands. This edema, in addition to the added weight and changing posture, may create carpal tunnel symptoms, sciatic nerve pain, and low back pain. Monthly sessions are most often recommended, though some Mamas may benefit from receiving massage more often.
At this point, you may be wondering, “is there any reason NOT to get a massage while I’m pregnant?”
- Yes, there is. Any high-risk pregnancy or situations of pre-eclampsia, elevated blood pressure, severe sudden headaches, pre-term labor or recent birth are the main contraindications for massage. Some massage therapists may request a Doctor’s or Midwife’s note stating that you are cleared for receiving massage. Please keep both your medical provider and massage therapist updated on any health changes, so they can help keep you and your baby healthy.
Prenatal care is more than seeing the midwife or doctor. It is also the food you eat, staying hydrated, keeping your body moving with gentle exercise, and stress management. It also includes holistically preparing your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical body for the tremendous act of crossing the threshold into motherhood. Regular prenatal massage will help you make the transition with ease and grace!