As many mothers would tell you, pregnancy—while very often a joyous experience—can be incredibly uncomfortable at times. Backaches, a stiff neck, leg cramping, swelling and sore joints, plus the added stress of going about day-to-day life while carrying extra weight can sometimes be overwhelming.
Additionally, drugs to relieve pain or reduced stress are often out of the question. So what can a stressed-out pregnant woman in pain do to stay healthy and happy? Pregnancy massage is one incredibly effective option.
Firstly, what is pregnancy massage? Pregnancy massage can involve anything from a full-body Swedish massage to light massage that may or may not include circulatory work, reflexology, or cranial sacral therapy. Many massage therapists are trained to perform massage as well as these various other techniques.
If you’re an expectant mother who is interested in pregnancy massage, you should consider finding a respected therapist who is both trained and experienced in providing pregnancy massage. It’s important for the professional to understand what is and is not safe for a mother and her baby and to be able to adjust his or her approach. Your massage therapist should have knowledge of the stages of pregnancy as well as the changing anatomy of a pregnant woman, since suitable positioning of the mother evolves as her baby grows and moves. For example, after a woman is pregnant for 22 weeks, she should no longer lay on her back. This is because the child’s weight at this stage can restrict deep blood vessels, causing reduced circulation for both the mother and her baby.
Performed by a talented and knowledgeable professional, massage therapy can deliver numerous health benefits throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy. However, women with pre-existing health conditions or high-risk pregnancies should be sure to check with their physician or midwife before finding a massage therapist.
Here are just a few of the reasons to consider pregnancy massage:
- Massage reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, easing painful swelling, especially in the knees and ankles.
- Massage helps to relieve many of the most common pregnancy discomforts, including muscular aches, lower and upper back pain, headaches, leg cramps, sciatica, stiffness, tension and knots, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, heartburn and acid reflux, fatigue, varicose veins, shortness of breath, edema of the lower extremities, neck pain, hip joint pain, and constipation.
- Massage increases circulation of blood, thereby providing more oxygen and nutrients to both the mother and the baby. It also stimulates the lymph system, thus boosting immunity and the elimination of toxins.
- Massage stabilizes hormonal levels and helps ease depression or anxiety due to hormonal changes.
- Massage releases endorphins into the mother’s body, easing the nervous system. Consequently, the mother-to-be feels less anxious and more at ease and may also sleep more easily and more deeply.
- Massage aids in correcting and preserving posture as well as improving muscle tone and flexibility, increasing the mother’s ability to carry the baby’s growing weight.
- Massage alleviates the weight on the heart and helps to keep blood pressure within normal limits.
- Massage improves the elasticity of the skin and underlying tissues, thereby preventing or reducing stretch marks and sagging skin.
- Massage provides a natural and safe alternative to using drugs for pain relief during pregnancy.
Your chiropractic physician is trained to understand the benefits as well as the risks of pregnancy massage, and will be pleased to refer you to an appropriate professional. If you don’t have a referral, you should do plenty of research on your own so that you understand your options and have some idea what to expect. Be sure to check the massage therapist’s licensing and professional credentials, and always meet for a consultation to ask questions and discuss any concerns before receiving a massage. Remember—it’s very important for you to feel comfortable with your massage therapist, and good communication is the key to unlocking all the benefits of pregnancy massage!