Pregnancy massage is a great way to relieve discomfort and stress during this exciting time in a woman’s life. This therapeutic approach to the body works well during all three trimesters to alleviate a multitude of issues that often occur with pregnancy including back pain, sciatic nerve pain, neck and shoulder tension, leg cramps, headaches, and swollen feet and ankles. Aside from the physical benefits, a regular massage during pregnancy can help improve maternal mood and reduce anxiety and depression. This in turn can have a positive effect on the developing baby, as a calm mother is more likely to experience fewer complications during labor and delivery.
According to a pilot study published in the journal “Nature of Women’s Health”, pregnant women who received regular massage reported lower levels of depression and anxiety during their pregnancy and had healthier babies at birth than women who did not receive massage. They also had shorter hospital stays and less incidence of post-natal depression. Pregnancy massage helps to balance hormones by decreasing epinephrine and cortisol, increasing serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with a positive mood.
As you enter your second trimester (as early as 12 weeks), the uterus grows from a mere four ounces to up to 13 pounds or more. As this growth occurs, the center of gravity shifts and puts stress on the weaker abdominal muscles, hip joints, and ligaments. Aside from these physical aches and pains, many pregnant women are experiencing emotional anxiety and stress due to the overwhelming changes taking place in their bodies. A prenatal massage addresses these issues early and can make a tremendous difference in the comfort level of our clients as they proceed through their pregnancy.
In general, a prenatal massage is similar to a traditional full-body massage with the exception of using special pillows and bolsters to accommodate the seated position. During the massage, the client can communicate with the therapist about any specific areas of discomfort or any concerns and the therapist will adjust the pressure applied and the positioning of the client to keep her comfortable and safe throughout the session.
It is recommended that you schedule your prenatal massage in the second trimester, as this is a time when morning sickness may be a less of a concern and the onset of more serious symptoms such as bleeding or miscarriage are more unlikely. However, it is important to follow the advice of your healthcare provider and always consult with your massage therapist prior to booking a prenatal massage as not every facility or therapist is experienced in providing this particular type of service. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your massage as well, as this can aid in flushing out the toxins released during the session. Aside from these precautions, the safety of a prenatal massage is similar to that of a traditional massage and should not pose any significant risks.