THE BENEFITS OF MASSAGE DURING PREGNANCY
Massage has many benefits for a pregnant mother and unborn baby, but it is often overlooked. Women are frequently unsure of what the benefits are and, more importantly, if it is safe to receive massage during pregnancy. As a massage therapist, I provide prenatal and postnatal massage to many women, so I would like to share some of my knowledge, and my thoughts around this subject.
Massage can play an important part in pregnancy, contributing greatly to the well-being of both mother and child. It is generally considered safe to receive massage after the first trimester (12 weeks) has passed. Statistics show that around a third of all first time pregnancies can result in miscarriage during these early weeks. It also safeguards the therapist and complies with insurance regulations. Any woman receiving a pregnancy massage should check that her therapist is sufficiently trained and adequately insured to offer pregnancy massage.
Extra special measures will be observed during the treatments. For example, couch positions may be adjusted so that clients can lay comfortably on their side supported with extra pillows. The use of essential oils needs careful consideration as many are contraindicated during pregnancy. To ensure that the correct essential oils are used always make sure your therapist is also a qualified aromatherapist. Plain base oils such as grapeseed oil are fine to use. Peach kernel oil is another favourite. It is rich in nutrients which feed and nourish the skin as it stretches and expands during the pregnancy.
A massage therapist who has received pregnancy massage training will also understand how the energy meridians work within the body. These energy pathways are the ones acupuncturists use. A working knowledge of these areas ensures that the therapist, as well as knowing the areas to work in, is equally aware of the areas not to work in. Pregnancy massages are designed to be relaxing. By offering opportunities for deep rest and rejuvenation they provide support to both the mother and the unborn child. Detailed below are other benefits that you can expect to receive from having a regular massage during your pregnancy.
• Improved circulation – which helps to deliver vital nutrients and fluid to the body, in particular the placenta which feeds the baby and aids it development.
• Release of compression upon on the nerves caused by increased muscle tension or oedema ( swelling).
• Support for the body to relax and to reduce stress – keeping stress levels low is important during pregnancy. Helping the mother feel safe and secure within her own nervous system encourages the release of oxytocin – a pain reducing hormone, which is especially valuable during labour.
• Release of muscular tension – commonly held in the upper back, shoulders, neck, lower back and hips. It can also help with alleviating the discomfort of sciatica, prolapsed disc and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction ( SPD) which can often be brought on by shifts in hormonal balance and postural changes.
• Personal Wellbeing – massage is a positive addition to a prenatal and postnatal care plan bringing benefit to both mother and baby. It provides personal time to ‘’ just be’’, and to deepen the bond between mother and baby in the time leading up to birth and beyond. Massage during pregnancy also supports mental and emotional health and plays a role in helping to alleviate and manage prenatal and postnatal anxiety and depression.
• Professional Support – massage therapists play a key role in supporting not only their clients during pregnancy but are able to work alongside other health care professionals like GPs, Midwives or Obstetricians to ensure the best possible care is offered to a woman and her unborn baby during this important time.
To conclude, pregnancy is one of the most intense and incredible experiences that a woman can go through in her life. The benefits are positive and far reaching and so why not consider bringing the gift massage into your personal pregnancy journey or share this article with those women who may be interested.
Lorna Bailey VTCT MCThA MSWA