Prenatal Massage – Easing Pregnancy Discomforts

Pregnancy is a wonderful time for a woman, but it also comes with its fair share of discomforts. Many of these discomforts can be eased with a few sessions of prenatal massage, which helps increase blood flow and reduce tension in key muscles and joints. The more comfortable the mother-to-be is, the less stress she will feel and the healthier her baby will be.

While most any massage can help alleviate muscle pain, prenatal massage is specially adapted to fit the needs of pregnant women. It focuses on the lower back, neck and hips, as these areas are most impacted by the weight gain and increased swelling that occurs during pregnancy. During early pregnancy, a lot of back pain stems from shifting hormones, while later on the pain is more a result of muscles straining to support the extra weight and changing body structure.

As well as easing the pain, prenatal massage can help with other issues that are common during this time, such as sciatica and leg swelling. It is important to address these issues early on, before they start to affect the quality of life of the expectant mother.

The most obvious benefit of prenatal massage is the reduction of stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that women who regularly receive massages experience lower levels of depression and anxiety, as well as less stress-related sleep disturbances. This is a huge benefit, as elevated stress hormones can cause problems with the placenta and lead to preterm labor between 32 and 36 weeks.

Massage is also linked to higher fetal performance in terms of Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment habituation and orientation scores, as well as lower cortisol levels in the infant. In addition, a study conducted by the American Pregnancy Association found that babies of depressed mothers who received massages showed less behavioral and neurological impairments.

Although there are many benefits, it is important to note that pregnancy massage is not without its risks. For instance, it is generally avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy due to the risk of a miscarriage. This is not because it is unsafe but simply because it can put too much pressure on the abdomen, resulting in the contractions that are associated with miscarriage.

Other areas that therapists must be careful with include the legs, as vigorous massage can dislodge a blood clot from one of the pools of circulating blood in the legs. The therapist must also avoid the feet, as pressing on the ankles and the big toes can trigger supine hypotensive syndrome, which causes low blood pressure in the legs when lying down.

For these reasons, it is important that clients get a referral from their healthcare professional to ensure that they are receiving the best possible care and treatment from a qualified therapist. With that said, pregnancy massage is a safe and effective way for most pregnant women to help relieve the pain, discomfort and stress of the many changes in their bodies.