The benefits of massage can improve overall prenatal health for most 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. Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of pot-natal depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, improve labor outcomes and newborn health.
Feeling a little moody?
Research has found that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to a womans prenatal care. This leads to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health. 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.
How about the swelling?
Oedema, 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.
Feeling pain in you upper and lower back and legs?
Sciatic nerve pain is often 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. You could also experience neck and upper shoulder pain due to change in posture as your baby grows.
Benefits of prenatal massage:
- Reduced back and neck pain
- Reduced joint pain
- Improved circulation
- Reduced oedema
- Reduced muscle tension and headaches
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
- Improved sleep
Body position during a prenatal massage
We have special chiropractic pregnancy pillows so you have the luxury of lying on your stomach with support or if that isn’t comfortable you can sit on a yoga ball and lie forward over comfortable pillows. Either way you will be relaxed and comfortable to enjoy your massage.
Is prenatal massage safe throughout the entire pregnancy?
Yes it is! With 20 years of experience I can safely say every pregnant mum I have massaged has only ever benefited. You can begin massage therapy at any point in your pregnancy – during the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd trimester. I have massaged clients right up until a couple of days before giving birth and then again a couple of weeks after with the baby sleeping on mums tummy. 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.
By Diana Carolin – Massage Therapist Neurohealth Chiropractic