Prenatal Massage Therapy The Benefits of Prenatal Massage Therapy
What a great gift at a Baby Shower - we all know that expectant moms receive an overabundance of baby items - this would pamper the mom-to-be and something that would truly be appreciated.
Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. Research shows prenatal massage therapy can help reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Prenatal massage therapy addresses different needs through varying techniques, one of which is called Swedish Massage.
Prenatal massage is not recommended during the first trimester.
Swedish Massage aims to relax muscle tension and improve lymphatic and blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscle groups of the body. Swedish Massage is the recommended massage method during pregnancy because it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts.
Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to women’s prenatal care. This leads to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health. In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (hormones associated with stress) were reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression).
These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence strongly suggests there are maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.
Reduction of swelling
Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce the collection of fluids in swollen joints. This also improves the removal of tissue waste carried by the body’s lymph system.
Improvement of nerve pain
Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have experienced a significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through massage. Other potential benefits of prenatal massage:
Reduced back pain
Reduced joint pain
Reduced muscle tension and headaches
Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
Precautions for prenatal massage?
As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy wellness, women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider. The best way to address the risks of prenatal massage is to be informed and to work together with knowledgeable professionals. Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying. Seek an appropriate massage therapist
It is important to seek care from a certified prenatal massage therapist. Certified therapists have received training beyond the national standards for massage therapists and know how to address specific pregnancy and massage needs. Prenatal Massage as part of Prenatal Care
The benefits of massage can improve overall prenatal health for many pregnant women. Along with the guidance and advice of a prenatal care provider, massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as an emotional and physical health supplement shown to improve pregnancy outcome and maternal health. Consult with your midwife or obstetrician before beginning any new therapeutic practice.