The following is a guest post written by Marcela De Vivo.
Massage During Pregnancy Is Beneficial
While being a mom-to-be can be exciting and exhilarating, the changes your body undergoes can be taxing. Prenatal massage is a great way to ease the discomfort of pregnancy, alleviating uncomfortable symptoms like lower back pain and swelling of the hands and feet.
Massage can also reduce stress and promote relaxation, helping you cope with other symptoms that massage may not directly address. Regardless, a quick, stolen hour to pamper yourself during pregnancy can go a long way to improving the overall experience and your health.
What is prenatal massage
Prenatal massage therapy is similar to regular massage in that both are therapeutic bodywork, but prenatal practice focuses on the special needs of the soon-to-be mother.
The massage can improve circulation, while relieving stress and pressure on joints—which in turn, can reduce the aches and pains associated with weight gain and change in center of gravity that comes with pregnancy. It can also help improve your mental state, by reducing stress and anxiety. Gentle and non-invasive, certain types of prenatal massage can also help you prepare for labor.
Thai Massage, while traditionally associated with deep stretching, appears at first glance not to be the first choice in types of massages for pregnant women. However it can actually help prepare women for labor. Thai Massage and yoga are part of the same family—both focus on breathing, gentle stretching, postures and relaxation.
Prenatal yoga is an ideal exercise for moms-to-be looking to stay fit, improve flexibility and help labor go more smoothly. Similarly, Thai massage can promote similar benefits.
Thai Massage can help improve circulation and release tension even if stretching movements are not used. With heavy focus on limbs, feet, hands and the neck, Thai massage techniques work on muscles through kneading, rolling, rocking and squeezing.
Due to risk of dislodging blood clots from the legs, certain types of massage should be avoided or need modification if you’re pregnant. These include deep-tissue massage, deep acupressure and Shiatsu.
Prenatal massage benefits
Some benefits from prenatal massage, regardless of the type of practice you choose, are physiological; others, psychological. Here’s what you can expect from getting regular prenatal massages:
— Decreased swelling in hands, feet, ankles and other areas that retain excess
— Lessens lower back pain by easing pressure on the sciatic nerve and by relieving
the tension in muscles of the back and neck
— Can help improve flexibility and muscle tone
— Relieve insomnia and improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation
— Improve circulation and oxygen in the blood; improved circulation can help with elimination of toxins which can help alleviate fatigue, and helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby
— Can strengthen the immune system
— Stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers
— Lowered anxiety and stress, improved overall mood and decreased cortisol
production (which can be unhealthy when exposed to high-levels for long periods)
Things to consider
Before you start scheduling your monthly prenatal massages, there are some things to keep in mind. Certain health conditions can prevent you from getting a massage.
For example, if you are in a later stage of pregnancy, massages may become more difficult, unless they have the equipment to support your body. Since most pregnant women are unable to lie face down and should not lie flat on their backs, the weight of the uterus places too much pressure on the vein running between the legs and the heart.
Specialized tables and equipment can accommodate a heavily pregnant body, and provide the belly and breast support needed to lie face down. Lying on your side is also another option, using pillows and wedges to provide support in the necessary places.
Make sure you find a trained prenatal massage therapist. As a woman’s body dramatically changes throughout pregnancy, like the 50% increase volume in blood and the increase of anticoagulants in the bloodstream, these changes can put the mom-to-be at risk for developing blood clots in the lower legs.
Massage experts will know to avoid deep massage and pressure on the calves and inner thigh to prevent dislodging a blood clot.
Always check with your doctor before beginning prenatal massages. There are a few situations in which you should not get a massage:
- You’re experiencing severe morning sickness or constant nausea
- You have a high-risk pregnancy or are at risk for miscarriage
- You have had previous problems with blood clots
In addition to prenatal massage, you should also be taking prenatal vitamins to ensure the health of your baby. Along with vitamins, prenatal massages can greatly improve your pregnancy experience, and possibly your labor.
With a host of health benefits, regular prenatal massages (if possible) should be part of your repertoire of healthy things to do to help both your body and your baby.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from California who specializes in writing about health and fitness, business marketing, tech and gaming. With three children of her own, she highly encourages any expecting mother to schedule a Miami spa day for a well-deserved massage and pampering.