Pregnancy is often one of the happiest chapters in a woman’s life. However, the body undergoes drastic changes, including an enormous influx of hormones, weight gain, postural changes, increased blood volume, shifting of organs, and enlarged breasts. Consequently, the entire pregnancy period can be uncomfortable. Many women experience pain and discomfort for months.
While pain medications help alleviate pain and discomfort, many women seek prenatal massage therapy for relief from pregnancy symptoms. A growing number of studies support the benefits of prenatal massage for pregnant women as a safe and relaxing solution in relieving bodily aches.
Safety and Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Prenatal massage is a type of therapeutic bodywork that targets the special needs of mothers-to-be by improving their muscles and joint function, blood circulation, and body tone. It also eases physical, emotional, and mental fatigue.
Here’s how massage therapy can do wonders to your health and well-being:
- Reduce Joint Swelling
Pregnant women often complain of edema, a condition caused by low circulation and extra pressure on the blood vessels. Gentle massage strokes tailored for pregnant women can help stimulate soft tissues and minimize fluid buildup in the swollen joints, as well as boost the ability of the lymph system to eliminate tissue waste from the body.
- Relieve Painful Muscles and Cramp
Muscle pain and cramp are among the most common pregnancy symptoms caused by muscular tension and increased motor neuron activity.
- Reduce Low Back Pain or Sciatica
About 50% of pregnant women experience pain in their lower back due to the postural change, which affects the centre of gravity. When your musculoskeletal system adapts to the new posture, it compresses the sciatic nerve. This results in sciatica, where pain radiates from the lower back down to the leg.
Prenatal massage helps loosen tight muscles and eases the pressure on the nerves. It also improves the range of motion and elasticity of the joints and muscles.
- Lower Stress and Anxiety
The level of cortisol spikes during pregnancy. Getting a relaxing massage during your prenatal care can significantly lower the cortisol level. Prenatal massage also helps stimulate the production of feel-good hormones, which improve mood, immunity, and vitality.
- Improve Sleep Quality
Massage increases melatonin hormone and serotonin compound production. This helps pregnant women enjoy a good and restful sleep, which promotes positive effects on the body.
- Prevent Headaches
Pregnant women often experience headaches or migraines due to the surge of hormones and the increase in blood volume. Moreover, headaches can be aggravated by other factors, such as lack of sleep, stress, poor posture, and dehydration. Massage helps ease muscle tension, stretches shortened muscles and releases trigger points.
- Reduce the Risk of Premature Birth
Several studies claim that receiving regular prenatal massage therapy reduces your risk of premature birth.
- Lower Baby’s Stress Hormones
A prenatal massage is not only beneficial for moms-to-be — studies also show that it reduces the level of stress hormones in the unborn baby.
Precautions for Prenatal Massage
A prenatal massage can have wonderful effects when carried out correctly. However, there are a few precautions to keep in mind before booking a relaxing massage:
- Make sure to consult your OB/GYN and discuss any pre-existing health conditions you have to help them determine if you are in the right condition to receive massage therapy.
- If you are not getting a massage from a registered massage therapist, make sure you understand how a prenatal massage is different from a regular massage. While there are many tutorial videos and articles on the Internet, it is always better to book professional massage therapy.
- Avoid taking any substances or medications before a massage. Prenatal massages should be a relaxing session and should not cause any discomfort.
- Blood clots in the thighs and calves can develop due to blood circulation changes. Massage therapists must never apply too much pressure on these areas and avoid using deep massage techniques, such as deep tissue massage and shiatsu.
- Aside from the legs, applying strong pressure on the abdominal area should be avoided.
When Should You Get a Pregnancy Massage
Although healthy pregnant women can get a massage at any point of their pregnancy without any complication, many massage therapists do not perform massages on pregnant women in their first trimester out of the fear of miscarriage. The first trimester is a critical period for the development of the baby’s major organs.
The rate of miscarriage is high during the first trimester, and while there may not be sufficient evidence that massages can cause miscarriages, massage clinics simply like to avoid potential liabilities.
It is recommended to start your prenatal massage in your second trimester. Also, it is important to understand the huge difference between a regular pregnancy massage and a perineal massage. Pregnancy massage is usually recommended during the second trimester to help alleviate stress and discomfort, while perineal massage is given to stretch the birth canal to prepare mothers-to-be for labour.
However, it is still highly essential for healthy pregnant mothers to consult their healthcare providers first.
When Prenatal Massage is Not Right for You
Many women have attested to the benefits of a regular prenatal massage, but several conditions can prevent you from getting a massage.
- High-risk pregnancy
- Physician’s recommendation for bed rest
- Severe morning sickness (nausea and vomiting)
- A previous incident of miscarriage or premature labour
- Hypertension caused by pregnancy
If you suffered none of the conditions stated above, but feel sick during or after the therapy, do not hesitate to ask the massage therapist to stop.
What to Expect Before and After the Massage
Women experience an overall relaxed feeling and better sleep after a professional pregnancy massage. It helps them cope with the weight gain by improving blood circulation and reducing muscle soreness, making them feel rejuvenated, at ease, and comfortable. For best results, the massage technique must be done with care to protect your baby inside your belly.
Oriole Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Centre offers an exceptional level of care and treatment to our clients. Our team of dedicated massage therapists is certified and undergoes continuous education to improve their techniques and follow the most advanced practices.
Call us today at (416) 221-0772 to book an appointment or fill in our contact form to send us your message.