The Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Your body’s working hard, so let an expert trained in pregnancy massage work some magic on your muscles.
Studies have found that moms-to-be can reap both mental and physical rewards from prenatal massage. In fact, massage is a common alternative therapy recommended by doctors for pregnant women. One reason: “Pregnancy does a number on your posture. It compresses your lower back, weakens your core, and places a lot of pressure on your legs and feet
The Power of Touch
Your muscles will certainly appreciate a massage when they’ve been carrying around an extra load. Plus, the weight of your growing baby can cause leg muscles to tense and swell. This inflames nearby nerves and can lead to sciatic nerve pain. “Applying mild pressure to your muscle groups helps reduce swelling by stimulating blood flow throughout your body
Beyond relieving tight muscles, there are other advantages of prenatal massage: Studies suggest that moms-to-be who get a weekly massage have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and higher levels of the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
Researchers have linked these hormonal changes to fewer childbirth complications, including a 75 percent reduction in premature births among depressed women. Though you don’t need to be depressed to reap the benefits of massage, pregnant women suffering from depression had significant improvement in mood, as well as decreased anxiety, after receiving a 20-minute massage twice a week.
A prenatal massage differs from a traditional one: For starters, you’ll likely be either lying on your side or sitting in a semi-reclining position. Lying on your back puts too much pressure on your abdomen and can restrict blood flow.
To keep your spine in alignment and alleviate lower-back pressure, your therapist may use specially designed pillows or bolsters to support your knees and feet. You may have the option to lie face-down on a massage table that has a hole for your belly. However, many women find this position uncomfortable, especially as their pregnancy progresses. Prenatal massages may also be shorter — 30 to 45 minutes versus the usual 60 to 90 minutes.
No parts of the body are completely off-limits, even feet. While some people fear that massaging certain areas of the foot can bring on labor, “If this were true, every woman who was overdue would just get a foot massage instead of being induced in the hospital.
Why does that unfounded belief persist? Most likely it stems from the fact that reflexology associates pressure points on the sides of the ankles with the ovaries and uterus, but pushing on these areas isn’t going to start contractions.
Prenatal massage is generally considered safe, (Always consult with your Dr first), Dr. may advise against massage if your pregnancy is high risk or if you have a condition like preeclampsia or high blood pressure.
Requirements for massage-therapy training vary, and not every massage therapist will have prenatal experience. Look for someone who’s certified in prenatal massage, whether you go to a spa that offers prenatal massage or work with an independent therapist. “Certification ensures that the therapist has special training in treating common pregnancy discomforts and that she knows which body areas to treat differently during pregnancy.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.