The What and Why of Prenatal Massage
Pregnancy can be difficult, physically and emotionally, even in the healthiest of pregnancies. This is a time when a woman’s body is undergoing an enormous amount of stress and change, and a time when self-care is of utmost importance. So why should you get regular massage therapy throughout your pregnancy?
Here’s some of the biggest benefits of prenatal massage:
- Decreases anxiety and symptoms of depression
- Relieves low back pain
- Decreases restless leg symptoms
- Improves sleep
- Relieves minor swelling
- Helps to relax and open the chest, allowing for deep breathing
- Relieves round ligament pain
- Loosens tight, aching hips
- Decrease in Sciatica symptoms
- Reduced headaches
- Decrease of SI joint pain
While prenatal massage is considered safe through all stages or pregnancy, some Massage Therapists will not massage a pregnant woman (especially in the first trimester). Even for women during a low risk pregnancy, as with any addition to prenatal care, it’s best to consult with your physician about adding massage into your routine. Some high-risk factors may make massage and other bodywork contraindicated (not advised).
What should you expect during a prenatal massage?
During the first trimester, not much will change in the logistics of your massage appointment. However, once you enter into the second trimester, your positioning will need to be changed. When lying on your back, you’ll having bolstering and pillows under your neck and back to keep you semi-reclined, as well as any bolstering to support your legs and arms if needed. Instead of lying face down, you’ll be able to lie on your side, with bolsters to help support you and keep you comfortable. Of course, we will work together to find the most comfortable combination of these things for each individual and for each visit. This side-lying position is not only safe and comfortable, but allows for great access for the therapist to address those painful and tight hips and low back.
Massage therapy can also play a large role in helping you throughout labor. Not only does massage help to manage pain and decrease the need for pain medications, but it also decreases stress hormones which counteract the oxytocin your body produces to progress labor. The more you can decrease those stress hormones, and try to relax during labor, the quicker and easier your body will go through the process.
Once your beautiful bundle arrives, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop taking care of you. Most new moms have their hands full taking care of their new baby, recovering from delivery, and adjusting to a completely new normal. With the stresses and hormonal changes happening right after your baby arrives, you’re going to need some physical and emotional relief. Postpartum massage may very well be the answer. Your body has gone through something tremendous, and needs to find relief for those tired, aching muscles in those precious days, weeks, and months after delivery.
Pregnancy is a beautiful, stressful, amazing, and painful time of life. With all the ups and downs, highs and lows, your self care routine has to come first. Make massage therapy a regular part of that.