Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health. It reduces stress and relieves muscle tension. Massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as an emotional and physical health supplement which is shown to improve pregnancy outcome and maternal health. It helps the mother to prepare for labor and give her nurturing emotional support.
Benefits of Prenatal Massage:
- Helps relieve stress – Massage alleviates stress on weight-bearing joints and musculo-facial structures.
- Helps make pregnancy comfortable – Assists in remedying many of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy like muscular discomfort, lower back pain, upper back pain, headaches, leg cramps, sciatica, stiffness, tension and knots, carpel-tunnel syndrome, heartburn and acid reflux fatigue, varicose veins, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, oedema of lower extremities, neck pain, sacroiliac and hip joint pain and constipation.
- Massage increase blood circulation – Massage provides more oxygen and nutrients and both mother and fetus and stimulates the lymph system, thereby increasing the immunity and removal of toxins.
- Stabilizes hormonal level – Massage helps relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes.
- It has a soothing effect and relaxes the nervous system – Massage helps by releasing endorphins into the mother’s body. The expectant mother feels more relaxed and will have good sleep.
- Massage helps in maintaining good posture – It adjusts the posture of changing alignment caused by baby’s increasing weight.
- Massage increases the muscle tone and flexibility – Massage helps mothers, aiding them to carry extra weight and also relieves body aches and pain.
- Massage decreases the load on the heart – It helps keep blood pressure in check.
- Massage enhances the return of blood to the heart – Massage increases the blood flow to the placenta and uterus with more demands placed on the circulatory system during pregnancy. It prepares the mother for an easy delivery with its sedating effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation.
- Massage is a safe and alternative choice for pain relief – Since many pain relieving medicines are contraindicated in pregnancy. In addition to physical benefits, massage provides the mother a feeling of emotional support and nurturing touch and energy.
- Massage reduces the swelling during pregnancy – Swelling is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce the collection of fluid in the swollen joints. It also removes the tissue waste carried by the body lymph system.
- Massage improves the nerve pain – Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on the muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy relieves the tension on nearby muscles and brings a reduction in the nerve pain during pregnancy.
- Massage rejuvenates energy of expectant mothers – Because it gives them the opportunity to rest and completely relax.
- Massage improves the sleep due to less muscle tension.
- Massage improves the progression of labor and better health outcomes for the mother and baby.
Conditions when to avoid massage during pregnancy
- If your midwife or doctor have advised you against it.
- Some massage therapists have a policy of not doing pregnancy massages within the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy.
- If you are in a high-risk pregnancy category or have previously had a premature labor.
- If you have Pregnancy Induced Hypertension e.g. high blood pressure.
- If you have pre-eclampsia, sudden swelling or severe headaches.