What is Pregnancy Massage and What Are the Benefits?
Can pregnancy massage offer genuine therapeutic benefit to the expecting mother? In this article I’ll discuss what is pregnancy massage, how it differs from a ‘normal’ massage, some of its benefits, and precautions that should be considered before beginning a pregnancy massage therapy program.
Pregnancy is a very special time for a mother to bond with the child she is carrying and no doubt it will always be remembered as a unique experience. It is also however a time of great physical change as the mother’s body adapts to include the growth of another human inside her. Along with the physical changes come the emotional changes and fluctuations as her body undergoes radical physiological modifications.
As the pregnancy progresses, the stomach grows, hormonal production changes, the centre of gravity shifts and biomechanical adaptations follow. Joints suffer under the increased load and muscles ache with the increased burden.
Pregnancy massage can greatly alleviate these distresses and should be considered by all expectant mothers as the benefits are far and wide.
What is pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage is simply massage during pregnancy. It is also commonly referred to as prenatal massage.
It differs from ‘normal’ massage in several ways.
o The pregnancy massage therapist will need to have specialized knowledge of the pregnant female body
o The massage is given with extra care to ensure no harm can be caused to the baby
o The intensity of the massage is reduced and great sensitivity is given to the mother’s feedback.
o The body position of the expectant mother during the massage is different. Typically the woman is on her side although lying on the front or the back is occasionally allowable with modification to ensure no harm to mother or child.
Pregnancy is often a time of stress, emotionally as well as physically. The mother is constantly worrying about issues such as the state of her unborn child, the act of giving birth, her changing body, becoming a parent, etc. The last thing she wants is having to deal with her sore back and other aches and pains inherent with being pregnant.
Prenatal massage helps to de-stress. The experience is relaxing, soothing and nurturing, and also offers a break in her routine. This allows both the body and mind to enjoy a respite from the daily cycle of dealing with the aches and pains and pressures of pregnancy.
During the pregnancy, the mother will experience regular instances of tightening and cramping of muscles, with tension, stiffness and knots being present. Massage is well renowned for easing all these muscular conditions in athletes and similar results can also be found in pregnancy massage although the technique is obviously modified.
Pregnancy massage also helps with improving muscle flexibility, which is vital during childbirth and highly beneficial during the last trimester when physical stresses and changes to the body are significant.
A common detriment women experience in pregnancy is swelling of the feet, ankles and lower legs, particularly in the more advanced stages of pregnancy. This is due to pooling of the blood as the body deals with the increased weight and workload. Pregnancy massage is proven to increase circulation and relieve swelling.
If you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns, they should be discussed with your doctor or pregnancy massage specialist prior to commencing a program. Certainly diabetes and high blood pressure should be disclosed. Having a massage in a lying down position will affect your blood pressure so doing so while pregnant may potentially be harmful.
pregnancy massage offers many benefits, both physically and emotionally to the expecting mother. It will require a specialist who is experienced in the modified techniques and methods required to ensure there is no harm to either the mother or her unborn child and maximum therapeutic value can be achieved.
Apart from the benefits discussed in this article, another major plus for undergoing a program of pregnancy massage therapy is that it greatly assists the body in preparation for the act of childbirth and the following recovery.