Congratulations, you are pregnant! As any first-time or seasoned mum knows, you want to do the best things you can for yourself and your baby when you are expecting. You eat right, you drop some not-so-great habits, you take your prenatal vitamins, and you visit your doctor when you’re supposed to. But have you considered adding pregnancy massage to your prenatal regimen?
It is something that you might find beneficial during this special time in your life when your hormone levels are surging, your body is changing, and quite frankly your emotions are running high. Also consider the advantages of prenatal massage for your baby. Overall you will find that massage while pregnant can help you and your precious cargo have a happy and healthy nine months with a smoother labour and easier post-partum period.
What is prenatal massage? It is very similar to traditional (often referred to as Swedish) massage, but with considerations and special precautions taken for pregnant patients. It is important, then, to receive prenatal massages from certified prenatal massage therapist.
Why? Trained therapists have specific prenatal massage training beyond the standards of traditional massage. Certified practitioners are familiar with a pregnant woman’s changing bodies and know the areas these women are most likely to experience pain as well the areas of their bodies that should be avoided.
What are the benefits of prenatal massage? There are so many! Having a baby is a huge life change. Prenatal massage helps alleviate stress and stablilize mood. Studies show that massage reduces the stress hormones norepinephrine and cortisol, while massages increase “feel good” hormones like dopamine and serotonin. Overall your state of mind will be calmer. Physically pregnancy changes your body due to the growing being in your uterus, your center of gravity is thrown off and you tend to change your posture (usually leading with your pelvis) to accommodate. Add that to the fact that your pelvic ligaments loosen to make room for the baby and we are talking about some serious aches and pains in your lower back. Massage relieves those pains by increasing oxygen to the muscles, and improving overall circulation. Prenatal massage also helps alleviate shoulder and neck pain, headaches and insomnia.
Another benefit of prenatal massage is the effective management of edema, or swelling, while expecting. During pregnancy you naturally create and retain more fluids to nurture your growing baby. This swelling can often become unpleasant, but massage therapy can help by improving circulation and aiding the lymphatic system in ridding your body from toxins and tissue waste.
What can you expect from a prenatal massage therapy session? It will usually last 60 minutes and cost $70. The massage therapist will likely place you in the side-lying position while you receive your massage. This is typically the most comfortable position for pregnant women. Some therapists have special tables with a cut-out area designed to accommodate your swelling uterus, or a specially designed pregnancy cushion system meant to cradle your uterus while in the prone position. These may be fine for most pregnant women, but keep in mind that pregnancy tables or pregnancy cushions are not made to fit all. The bottom line is, always speak up if you experience any pain or discomfort during massage. After positioning you, the massage therapist will start her massage working out sore spots and send you home with a specific homecare plan to prolong the benefits of the massage and help keep your bundle in optimum position.
There are many benefits to receiving a prenatal massage. Studies have shown the effectiveness of massage throughout all stages and post stages of pregnancy. Make sure to let your health professional know if you are receiving massage in case there is a reason he or she might advise against it. If you are given the green light, give prenatal massage a try. You might even get reimbursed from your insurance. Have a happy and healthy nine months – I am looking forward to meeting you and your bundles of joy! by: Crystal Schouten R.M.T, CIMI