What is prenatal massage?

Pregnancy is a time of extraordinary physical and emotional change. It’s also a time when it’s more important than ever to support and care for your wellbeing. The therapeutic effects of massage can help you meet the unique challenges of pregnancy, ensuring optimal health for you and your baby in a safe and natural way, without the use of harmful medications.

Prenatal massage helps to ease tense muscles and tight spots and improve circulation and mobility. A prenatal massage performed by a certified prenatal massage therapist addresses the specific needs of the pregnant woman in a safe and effective way.

Did you know…it’s good for both Mom and Baby?

During a massage, the relaxation hormones cross the placenta and have a calming effect on both mom and baby. It’s true, a regular massage can enhance your health, potentially preventing complications and positively influencing the development of the baby.

Many mothers-to-be find themselves facing anxiety, fatigue, back pain, heartburn, nausea and other symptoms as a result of the many new demands being placed on their bodies. Massage has been found to effectively relieve many of these symptoms.

During pregnancy, massage therapy can help to relieve discomfort due to a variety of common complaints including:

  • Back pain and sciatica
  • Constipation
  • Edema
  • Excessive lactation
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Insufficient lactation
  • Labor and delivery pain
  • Mastitis
  • Morning sickness
  • Physical problems
  • Postoperative healing
  • Psychological problems

Recent studies from the Touch Research Institute indicate that pregnancy massage helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, sleep problems and back pain. Evidence suggests massage helps to reduce complications during delivery and may also result in shorter labor times for mothers. Regular massage during and after pregnancy may also help to prevent symptoms associated with postpartum depression.

What can massage therapists do?

Each trimester of pregnancy brings exciting and new challenges for the mother-to-be. A certified prenatal massage therapist can safely tailor a massage to address the physiological changes during and after pregnancy.

First Trimester (Weeks 1 – 13)

During the first trimester, a generally healthy woman with a low risk pregnancy can safely receive massage. A massage therapist certified in pregnancy massage can deliver a soothing massage to safely and effectively provide much needed relaxation.

The first trimester is an important time to take precautions to minimize any complications. It is essential to obtain the mother’s health history to avoid any possible complications due to a high-risk pregnancy.

Second Trimester (Weeks 14 – 26)

As the mother-to-be heads into the second trimester, a relaxation massage or deep tissue massage can help to alleviate discomfort associated with the continuing changes in her body. A certified massage therapist will be able to explain correct use of abdominal muscles to maintain core strength and stability in the lower back. Due to hormonal changes beginning early in the pregnancy the ligaments become soft and more pliable, this is called joint laxity.  It is important to avoid overstretching during this time because the hormones make it difficult for a pregnant woman to accurately feel the “end feel” of a muscle when it is stretched. Toward the end of the second trimester, it is also important to use the side-lying position or a semi-reclined position to avoid pressure on the inferior vena cava.

Third Trimester (Weeks 27 – 40)

A soothing touch can trigger the release of relaxation hormones for both mom and baby. During the third trimester, the additional weight of the baby and the hormonal changes that take place when a woman’s body is preparing for childbirth can bring on an array of physical and emotional challenges. A massage therapist can provide a supportive, nurturing and calming way to reduce the discomfort. At this stage, the massage therapist should use pillows and make necessary positioning adjustments to address the individual needs of the mother-to-be.

What can you do?

Be kind to yourself. Compliment your prenatal care with a regular prenatal massage. Practice self-care techniques and find a certified prenatal massage therapist who can provide an individualized massage to fit your needs in a supportive and nurturing manner.

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