The Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Updated: Oct 27, 2019
It doesn’t get much happier than the arrival of a new baby. Pregnancy can be a joyous and exciting experience as your body changes and adapts to carrying a new life. As wonderful as this whole experience is, with these dramatic changes can come some nagging discomforts.
Prenatal massage can assist in relieving a lot of the common discomforts that come with pregnancy from joint and nerve pain to the mental health conditions that could develop:
Women can experience increased joint pain due to the drastic changes in her body during pregnancy. First, the extra weight puts a strain on the joints in the hip, legs, and feet. Second, the overstretched abdominal muscles and weight in the front can cause an anterior pelvic tilt. When this happens, muscle imbalances can occur such as tight hip flexors and lower back muscles. Low back and hip pain is the most common condition women seek prenatal massage for. Massage can decrease tension in the lower back muscles and legs that are working hard to support the extra weight.
Some women experience changes in their mental health during pregnancy. It is no doubt a beautiful and exciting time, but it also comes with some anxiety, mood changes and depression in some women due to hormone fluctuations. Not to mention just the anticipation of the upcoming life changes!
Hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to a woman’s prenatal care. With women who receive regular massage, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (hormones associated with stress) were reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression). So if you are experiencing the blues, feeling like a total mess or you just want to relax, massage can do wonders.
Sciatica. For those of you who have experienced this before, it is not fun. True sciatica comes from compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. Very commonly, however, the sciatic nerve can be compressed by a little muscle behind the glutes. When this muscle, called the piriformis, compresses the sciatic nerve, pain and discomfort can be felt in the glutes and down the affected leg to the foot. When a woman is pregnant, the changes in her hips can cause the piriformis to become tightened which can cause sciatic pain. Massage can help decrease tension in the piriformis which can lessen the pain.
Other potential benefits of prenatal massage:
Reduced muscle tension and headaches
Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
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Pillows are used to support the natural form of your body and to relieve pressure. Modifications in positioning are required for safety and comfort. Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying. Tables that provide a hole in which the uterus can fit may not be reliable and can still apply pressure to the abdomen, or allow the abdomen to dangle, causing uncomfortable stretching of the uterine ligaments and pressure on the lower back. Consult your massage therapist before your first appointment to verify what position they place their clients in during the massage.
So whether you desire a more relaxing treatment to melt away some stress or a deeper, more focused treatment to work out muscle tension and knots, massage is a safe and effective therapy to add to your prenatal wellness routine!