by: Vera Barr, Massage Therapist
How Can Massage Help Your Pregnancy?
There is no more exciting time than when you’re preparing for a new life … laying a foundation of health and love that sets the stage for a healthy, happy baby.
It’s only natural to want the very best possible for your new baby. When you can add a few simple things to your health program that offer lifelong benefits, you want to include them.
Bringing a new life into this world holds certain challenges and responsibilities. You have a set period of time in which the things you do can contribute to the lifelong health and well-being of your new child. Obviously, you want to do all you can to help your new baby have every health advantage possible.
Think about what takes place within your body as your pregnancy develops and you can see why massage is so beneficial. As the baby grows, your lung capacity lessens, you experience greater pressure on your digestive area, and your posture changes to compensate for your new physical condition. Your ability to breathe and to digest is altered—both functions that can affect the development of the fetus.
These physical changes can lead to discomfort in the back, neck, and hips and often contribute to heartburn, reflux, constipation and swelling in the legs.
The good news is that regular massage is very beneficial in relieving many of these complaints experienced by expectant mothers. By addressing the tissues and muscles that are altered during pregnancy, we can improve your comfort level as well as your body’s ability to function properly. The result is a happier mom-to-be and a better functioning body, which can bring greater nutrition to your developing child.
Your labor experience can be improved by massage as well. Here are excerpts from a recent Massage Magazine article: “A study on the effects of massage for women in labor revealed that massage decreased the women’s pain, anxiety and depression, and shortened labor time. The study was conducted by researchers from the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami.”
In an article for Massage Therapy Journal, licensed massage therapist Elaine Stillerman wrote: “In our medically specialized world massage is often overlooked as a valuable adjunct to health care. Yet it is among the oldest of the healing arts, having been employed therapeutically for thousands of years in almost every culture. It accompanied childbirth nearly everywhere in the tribal world and it is appropriate that this time honored and tested tradition take its rightful place in prenatal care and postpartum recovery.” Stillerman is also author of the book Mother Massage: A Handbook for Relieving the Discomforts of Pregnancy and has taught a course on massage during pregnancy at schools around the country.
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Increase circulation to:
*decrease edema (swelling)
*alleviate anemia & fatigue
*increase blood supply to placenta to nourish the growing baby
Relieves muscular tension, assisting to:
*decrease strain on muscles of lower back, pelvis, abdomen & shoulders
*reduce aches associated with postural changes
*prepare muscles for the work of labor
*prevent and/or ease muscle spasms
*self-massage to the perineum promotes flexibility reducing incidence of tearing and/or episiotomy at delivery
*calm the nervous system
Provides support and education with:
*innovative ways to make you comfortable
*suggestions regarding exercises & stretching
*keeping you focused
*listening & supporting your needs
Benefits of massage during labor:
Relief of physical discomforts by:
*calming the nervous system
*relaxing tight muscles
*promoting general relaxation
*reducing muscle spasms
Stimulates glandular secretions to assist with:
*releasing of natural hormone oxytocin to stimulate the birthing process
*releasing of endorphins to reduce pain
Provide support by:
*being present to keep you focused
*being attentive to you solely
*providing prepared alternatives to get you through the delivery
*making the process as comfortable as possible
Massage after delivery aids with the healing process:
*helps to control bleeding and assists in returning the uterus to the pre-pregnant state
*assists breast feeding mothers with milk letdown by promoting relaxation and stimulating release of prolactin, a hormone essential for milk production
*promotes restful sleep
*provides you an opportunity to pamper yourself
*reduces postpartum depression
*enhances your health as a new mom
Benefits for your baby include
*increased flow o