During pregnancy, a woman’s body experiences “changes in shape, composition , hormonal flow, fat and weight distribution and posture. The mother will also experience emotional, psychological, and possibly even spiritual changes, some of which can be very stressful. Massage therapy can help a pregnant woman cope with these changes over the course of her pregnancy.
Massage therapy can even be given during labor, to help the mother cope with the pain and stress. Relaxation skills taught to a mother during prenatal massage can help during labor, even if massage isn’t given. Postpartum massage can help the mother recover from birth physically and emotionally.
Prenatal massage also has the power to influence the growing baby, as your therapy affects the mother’s stress levels (and therefore hormonal balance), digestion, and circulation. You can also benefit the baby second-hand: a mother who enjoys and benefits from prenatal massage may be more likely to offer massage and healing touch to her own infant once he or she is born.
Many pregnant woman feel pressure to project an image of perfection to the world, especially when faced with media images of celebrity pregnancies. The stress of not being able to communicate her true feelings can have a negative affect on mother and fetus. sometimes, a massage therapy session is the only time a soon-to-be mother will feel truly supported in a non-judgmental fashion.
Body image is one of the issues facing women during pregnancy. Most women gain at least 28 pounds, which is healthy and normal. However, some women are uncomfortable with the weight gain. Misinformed partners who are afraid of being intimate of fear of harming the baby may also contribute to this.
Some women are also afraid that massage can lead to a miscarriage. Of course, massage is perfectly safe during pregnancy, but a sense of over protection can occur.
Benefits of prenatal massage include:
Hormone regulation: Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health, when massage therapy was introduced to women’s prenatal care.
Reduction of swelling: Edema, 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 tissue to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.
Improvement of nerve pain: Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscle of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower legs, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves.
Reduces stress: Stress can cause “increased maternal heart rate, blood pressure, vomiting, nausea and immune system dysfunction.
Improved respiration: Many pregnant women have trouble taking full breaths as the baby grows and puts pressure on the diaphragm and lungs. They also tend to lean backwards to compensate for the weight of their front, which can make breathing more difficult. Massage can help with structural alignment issues in the ribcage, improve “neck, abdomen, and chest mobility,” and correct restrictive postures, all of which will make breathing easier and more effective.