Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
by Richard A. Lane
Pregnancy provides unique physical and emotional changes in women that results from the increased weight, shifting centre of gravity, changing posture and gait and the huge hormonal adjustments. As a result mums-to-be can face a whole raft of physical conditions such as back pain, sciatic discomfort, headaches, swollen legs and ankles. When coupled with hormonal variations, nausea and emotional stress then attention is required.
Prenatal massage from a qualified and experienced massage therapist aims to alleviate these and other pregnancy-related conditions.
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Massage is considered to have many health benefits including stimulating blood flow and the lymphatic system, improving flexibility to muscles and enhancing the mobility of joints. As pregnancy progresses, then the body adjusts to a changing centre of gravity caused by the baby's increasing weight. The change in posture puts increased strain on the legs, hips and back. Massage improves the flexibility and functionality of the muscles, which assists the woman to carry the extra weight along with some of the aches and pains associated with pregnancy.
The claimed benefits of pregnancy include:
- reduced stress through relaxation and pain relief
- maintenance/awareness of good posture
- relief of muscular tension and spasms (in particular in the hips, legs, back and neck)
- reduction of stress on weight-bearing joints.
- assistance in pain relief for any sciatic pain that frequently arises during pregnancy
- reduced oedema in hands and feet
- medication free headache relief
- improved energy levels and reduced fatigue
Even just taking time out for oneself during pregnancy can be emotionally rewarding, particularly if there is emotional support through the nurturing touch of the therapist.
Studies from the Touch Research Institute have indicated that pregnancy massage provides more than just physical relief for the mum-to-be. A group of pregnant women were provided with either massage or relaxation therapy during a five-week study. The researchers found that massage group had fewer complications during labour and delivery. In addition, they also had a reduction in stress, improved sleep quality and less back pain than the relaxation therapy group.
Massage is normally safe during pregnancy for most women. However if the women is experiencing any of the following conditions or symptoms then massage is contraindicated.
- any discharge of blood or water
- contagious illness/fever/vomiting
- high blood pressure
- abdominal pain
- blood clotting disorders
This list is not considered to be complete. If you have any concerns about having a massage during pregnancy then you should contact your health care professional. Indeed some massage therapists will not perform pregnancy massage without the approval of their doctor and others will not massage during the first trimester.
In choosing your prenatal massage therapist then please make sure that they are suitably trained and experienced. Just because a therapists offers pregnancy massage in their brochure or website does not mean that they have the necessary training and skills. Some therapists use pregnancy massage tables that have a hole for the belly, however these are generally not recommended by experienced prenatal massage therapists as the lack of support causes additional muscle strain on the belly and stress on the lower back
It is important to provide all relevant information about your condition to the therapist during pre-massage discussion. The massage therapist can then adjust your pregnancy massage to make the rewarding and relieving experience you deserve.
Richard Lane is a remedial and sports massage therapist in Sydney's Inner West, http://www.innerwestmassage.com.au . He provides website resources for Sydney Remedial Massage Therapists, http://www.remedialmassagesydney.com.au , and an Australian massage directory, http://www.remedial-massage.com.au