By Raizelah Bayen
Pregnancy is a beautiful but delicate time in women’s lives. While the life of their baby-to-come is growing inside, women can feel challenged by many changes: changing bodies, changing hormones, and changing moods. As women move through pregnancy, they may experience physical or emotional stresses due to these rapid changes. Pregnancy Massage can benefit a mother’s physical and emotional well-being, easing a woman’s transition into motherhood.
5 Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Relaxation and Stress Reduction
While reducing tension and increasing relaxation is a benefit to everyone, it is especially important for mothers-to-be. Challenged by hormone-related mood swings or anxieties related to life transitions, pregnant women feel re-assured and taken care of by the nurturing touch of an experienced massage therapist, allowing stress to melt away.
Health care professionals agree that a relaxed mother is a more fertile environment for the growth of the baby. The relaxation response experienced in massage activates the parasympathetic nervous system, releasing norepinephrine and nitric oxide, resulting in decreased blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen consumption, and increased blood flow. This means greater oxygen and nutrient circulation for both mom and baby.
Reduces Aches and Pains
Pregnant women’s bodies are growing fast. As the baby develops and the uterus expands, women are carrying increased weight, resulting in greater pressure on the joints of the lower body, including the hips, knees and ankles. Massage can help ease the discomfort in these weight-bearing joints. Additionally, the tendons which help to stabilize the uterus, attach at both the sacrum and pubic bone. The growing uterus is continually pulling on these tendons, creating tension in the low back and pelvic region. Prenatal massage is useful in relieving this tension. Sciatica and calf cramps are also commonly associated with pregnancy. Massage techniques, combined with gentle stretching help to relieve the pain associated with these symptoms.
Improves Blood Circulation
Women’s blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy to provide for the needs of a growing baby. By the 6th month of pregnancy, a mother’s blood volume has almost doubled! This dramatic increase may result in symptoms such as swelling, varicose veins or increased blood pressure. Swedish and lymphatic massage techniques are known to increase and blood and fluid circulation in the body, relieving swelling and increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery to baby, and accelerating the removal of waste.
Balances Hormones and Moods
Studies have shown that massage during pregnancy significantly improves the regulation of hormones: norepinephrine, cortisol and serotonin. A study conducted by Dr. Tiffany Field at the University of Miami School of Medicine showed that massage both reduces stress hormones, and increases the “feel good” hormones. These improvements in hormone regulation help expectant mothers balance mood swings. Studies also show that women with decreased stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increase norepinephrine, have fewer complications during pregnancy and birth, and a decreased rate of low birth weight of the baby. Massage is vital to the well-being of mother and, in turn, nurtures the life that grows within her.
Preparation for Labor
Childbirth requires both strength and flexibility, particularly in the low back, pelvis and legs. Prenatal massage techniques and applied stretches are effective in increasing muscle and joint flexibility in the lower limbs and pelvis, important in the preparation for childbirth. Recent studies from the Touch Research Institute in Miami Florida indicate that massage provides more than just symptom relief, but also fewer complications in delivery. The women studied showed lower levels of anxiety, stress, sleep problems and back pain, in addition to reduced rates in labor complications.
Pregnancy Massage at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary
At Osmosis, we have specialty cushions, designed for pregnant women, allowing them to receive massage lying face down through the ninth month of pregnancy. Our specially trained massage therapists are also able to perform a full-body massage in a side-lying position for those who feel more comfortable that way. Our Pregnancy massage therapists are knowledgeable of the techniques most effective in relieving pregnancy symptoms, such as low back pain, sciatica, calf cramps and aches in the joints of the lower limbs. Our massage therapists are also aware of which techniques, acupressure points and aromatherapy oils, are contraindicated for use during pregnancy.
Is Pregnancy Massage for Me?
If you want to experience greater ease in pregnancy and childbirth, the answer is YES!
Women experiencing complications in their pregnancy, such as but not limited to diabetes, heavy bleeding, preeclampsia, high blood pressure or unusual pain, should consult with a doctor before pursuing massage therapy.
Raizelah Bayen is a California Certified Massage Therapist, currently employed as the Director of Training and Massage Therapist Supervisor at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, California. She has been practicing massage for over 25 years, and teaching T’ui Na, Acupressure, Sports and Pregnancy Massage in massage certification programs for 15 years. Raizelah is an approved CEU Instructor by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), offering trainings in Freestone, California and on-site training at your massage school or spa. For more information, connect with Raizelah Bayen on LinkedIn.
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