The Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Heartburn, swollen feet, muscle cramps, fatigue, and back pain. The creation of life is a beautiful thing, but for most women, it’s not very comfortable. Thankfully, there are many things an expectant mother can do to ease their discomfort. Following a healthy diet, certain forms of exercise (like yoga and walking), and prenatal massage can all make pregnancy a more pleasant experience.
For the mother-to-be, prenatal massage can provide significant psychological, emotional, and physiological benefits. Prenatal massage is different from regular massage therapy because it focuses on the unique needs of a pregnant woman as the body undergoes the dramatic changes that come with pregnancy. A qualified practitioner will know how to adapt the massage to meet the needs of the mother during each stage of pregnancy.
The benefits of prenatal massage include relief of physical and mental fatigue, improved blood flow and circulation, and better function of the joints and muscles. Because prenatal massage is a gentle and non-invasive form of therapeutic bodywork, it can even ease pregnancy discomfort while nurturing the expecting mother emotionally and helping her to prepare for labor.
The Amazing Benefits of Prenatal Massage
The health of your uterus and ligaments is crucial to avoiding common pregnancy complications like scar tissue, prolapse, and incontinence. In fact, prenatal massage can provide benefits for the developing baby, as well as the mother. When you are pregnant, everything you do, especially diet and exercise, can affect your baby. Studies have also shown a direct correlation between the mother’s state of mind and the baby’s healthy development.
A study published by the Journal of Perinatal Education also found that receiving regular prenatal massage during pregnancy can make labor easier by shortening delivery time and reducing the need for pain medications and epidurals. The study also found that prenatal massage reduced the need for cesarean births by as much as 50%.
Additional benefits of prenatal massage include:
- Relief of stress on your muscles and joints
- Relief of pregnancy discomfort, including back pain, muscle spasms, leg cramps, headaches, sciatica, and hip and joint pain
- Reduction in common pregnancy symptoms like heartburn, fatigue, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, and edema
- Improved blood flow, which means better nutrition and oxygenation for both mom and baby
- Relief of anxiety and depression due to fluctuating hormones caused by pregnancy
- Fewer issues with insomnia because of reduced stress levels and increased relaxation
- Regulates blood pressure and supports the return of blood to the heart as the pregnancy progresses
- Makes the skin and underlying tissues more pliable, which may reduce stretch marks
Prenatal Massage During the First Trimester
In the past, prenatal massage was discouraged during the first trimester because it was believed to increase the risk of miscarriage. However, recent studies show that prenatal massage done by a qualified practitioner can have tremendous benefits during the first trimester. A healthy first trimester creates a good foundation for the rest of your pregnancy.
According to experts at the Yinova Center, a leading fertility, acupuncture, and massage clinic in New York City, prenatal massage during the first trimester should focus on addressing pre-existing issues such as neck, back, pelvic or shoulder pain. Addressing these issues early in the pregnancy will help your body deal with the rapid changes that occur as the baby grows. Additionally, prenatal massage will actually reduce the anxiety and stress that can be a problem in early pregnancy and possibly even lead to miscarriage.
First trimester massage can also be extremely helpful for symptoms caused by the influx of powerful hormones. Things like headaches, constipation, and the dreaded morning sickness are all caused by hormonal changes. Massage can significantly relieve these symptoms and make early pregnancy much more pleasant.
Prenatal Massage During the Second Trimester
Once you reach the second trimester, your pregnancy is settled. Thankfully, those early symptoms are subsiding, and your belly is growing. As your center of gravity changes, back pain can become an issue. Massage will help to ease your tense muscles and improve your body alignment and posture.
This is also the time to focus on supporting your rapidly growing uterus. There are 13 ligaments supporting the uterus as it increases in size from about 4 ounces to a whopping 13 pounds. Prenatal massage can help to keep these ligaments toned, which is incredibly essential for preventing pregnancy issues like back and pelvic pain, preterm labor, and back labor.
Prenatal Massage During the Third Trimester
During the third trimester, prenatal massage should focus on preparing the body for labor. The strain on your ligaments will continue to increase as you gain weight and your hormones change. The added pressure your uterus puts on your legs can cause edema and swelling, which can be significantly relieved by massage. The growing uterus can also cause blockages in digestion and elimination. Having regular prenatal massage can combat these symptoms while relaxing your body to make labor, delivery, and recovery easier.
As the clock counts down, heartburn and swollen feet become a daily occurrence. Your baby is starting to get heavy, and you’re probably experiencing some anxiety about labor and delivery. Massage at this time can be incredibly beneficial for keeping those stress levels low. Don’t worry! Your massage therapists will have a special table and pillows to make sure you’re comfortable during your massage.
Your body goes through incredible strain and stress during pregnancy and birth. Just as prenatal massage is helpful during your pregnancy, postnatal massage can be a fantastic way to help your body get back to normal after delivery. Massage can help to get your pelvic floor back in shape while supporting bladder and digestive function. Postnatal massage can also be incredibly helpful for coping with the stress that accompanies hormonal changes after delivery.
As you can see, massage can be very beneficial during all stages of pregnancy and beyond. Be sure to find a qualified practitioner and get your doctor’s permission before you begin prenatal massage. This non-invasive therapy could be your answer to a healthy, comfortable pregnancy and birth.