Prenatal Massage – Many Benefits for Mom and Baby

Throughout history and across cultures, new mothers have always experienced the power of touch and nurturing with their newborn babies. What could be more natural for a mother-to-be than to benefit from that nurturing touch while expecting her child?

During her nine months of pregnancy, a woman’s body is challenged, changed and stressed in many ways – she must adjust to her altered physiologic functioning, a different body shape, and new feelings and emotions (joy, love mixed with anxiety, worry, etc.). Massage therapy can help the mother’s physical and emotional well-being; it also gives her that special attention, which in turn nurtures the new life that grows within her.

Benefits of prenatal massage

In addition to the fact that massage during pregnancy feels good, there are many other benefits for the mom-to-be and her baby. A study conducted by Dr. Tiffany Field at the University of Miami School ofMedicine showed that pregnant women who received massage therapy experienced reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep and less back pain by the last day of the 5-week study.

Relaxation and stress reduction РHealthcare professionals agree on the positive results of relaxation during pregnancy Рincreased well-being for the mother and baby, and increased chances for a positive birth experience. Through emotional support and physical nurturing prenatal massage reduces stress and promotes relaxation, creating a balance in the body, decreasing fear and anxiety and enhancing the immune system.

Reduce pain and strains РAs pregnancy progresses and the uterus grows, the pelvis tends to rotate forward, increasing the lower back curve and stretching the abdominal muscles. Postural adjustments and weight gain both strain the muscles, ligaments and joints, creating fatigue, tightness and pain. Massage therapy techniques are helpful in providing relief on weight-bearing joints Рalleviating tightness and pain in areas such as the lower back, hips, pelvis and ankles. Sciatica in the buttocks or legs as well as calf cramps are also commonly associated with pregnancy. Massage techniques and gentle stretching will also help decrease the pain in these areas.

Improve blood circulation – During the pregnancy all blood components are elevated to provide for¬†fetal needs; by weeks 24 to 34, the plasma volume alone has increased by 40%. Resulting discomfort¬†such as swelling, varicose veins and high blood pressure are common. The greatest change women¬†notice is swollen legs and ankles. Swedish and lymphatic massage support circulatory function, thus¬†reducing swelling. Massage therapy helps provide regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and fetus,¬†promotes the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and accelerates the removal of waste products,¬†improving both mother’s and baby’s tissue health.

Prepare for labor – In order to give birth with less effort, the musculature of a woman’s back, abdomen¬†and pelvic floor must remain relaxed to allow the uterus to labor without resistance. Massage therapy¬†methods used to release pain are also effective to increase muscle and joint flexibility, particularly in¬†the pelvis and legs, which is useful for childbirth. Receiving bodywork during pregnancy also¬†contributes to self-awareness and relaxation that are necessary to actively participate in the birth¬†process.

Improve respiratory and GI functions РMost expectant women tend to feel short of breath and hyperventilate, a result of the growing uterus restricting the diaphragm area. Common gastrointestinal system discomforts include indigestion, heartburn, nausea and vomiting. Swedish massage, acupressure and reiki can help alleviate those symptoms.

In summary, benefits of prenatal massage includes:

  • emotional support and nurturing touch
  • relaxation and self-awareness
  • pain relief on weight-bearing joints, pelvis and lower back
  • back, hip and neck pain relief
  • preparation of the muscles and joints used during childbirth
  • reduced swelling in hands and feet
  • lessened sciatic pain
  • fewer calf cramps
  • headache and sinus congestion relief

And baby?

Through their moms, babies will benefit from an improved blood circulation, healthy tissue, flexible joints and muscles during the pregnancy and labor. With hands-on healing energy techniques, it is also possible to establish a deep connection with the baby in utero, providing him/her with a feeling of love and nourishment.

Is prenatal massage for you?

Women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy Рduring the first, second, or third trimester. Mothers-to-be with certain conditions, such as high-risk pregnancy, preeclampsia, high blood pressure or diabetes may not be able to receive massage therapy. Always ask your Primary Care Physician or Ob/GYN before proceeding with any bodywork.

Book your prenatal massage at Yoga Garden now:

60-minute Prenatal massage: $90 non-members.

90-minute Prenatal massage: $135 non-members.

Article by Caroline Vigery, CMT