For many women pregnancy is a joyous time, one that holds great anticipation in welcoming a new life into the world. However, pregnancy can also be a time of great discomfort, as changes in a woman’s body gives way to swollen joints, backaches, out of this world food cravings, and morning sickness.
Prenatal massage has gained popularity as a technique for combating these discomforts.
Now massage is nothing new, the peoples of ancient Egypt, China, and Japan, for example, used the technique to aid healing.
Here are some of the benefits one may gain from obtaining a prenatal massage.
Prenatal massage is a terrific hormone regulator.
Women who received bi-weekly prenatal massages were less depressed and had overall lower stress levels. A reduction in stress hormones, and an increase in the” feel good hormones”, serotonin and dopamine, are imperative in a mother’ s well-being.
As a result, improved well-being of the mother contributes to the well-being of the baby.
For instance, babies whose mothers received regular prenatal massages were at a lower risk of being born with low birth weight.
Regular massage results in less joint pain, sore muscles and aching joints.
Swollen joints, back pain and sore, aching muscles are among the most common complaints among pregnant women. Massage is a great way to lessen the pain. The kneading motion encourages blood flow, and the manipulation of soft tissue helps the lymphatic system remove toxins from the joints. Because of the improved blood flow, soft tissue and muscles get much needed oxygen.
In addition, receiving regular prenatal massage should ease the pressure placed on the nerves and muscles in the pelvic area by the weight of the growing fetus. This is especially true of the sciatic nerve, which runs beneath the uterus, down the legs and into the soles of the feet. As the fetus grows, the greater the occurrence of sciatic pain.
One of the top benefits prenatal massage is improved sleep.
Is prenatal massage safe?
Despite the benefits of prenatal massage, medical experts are still not convinced of the safety of the technique. Colleen Fitzgerald, medical director for Chronic Pelvic Pain program at the Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Illinois, believes that prenatal massage may sometimes not be as beneficial.
She thinks prenatal massage may actually worsen pain in women who are already overly sensitive to it. For these women, having a massage, even a gentle one, would be uncomfortable.
Meanwhile Mary Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., an ob-gyn at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York advises women to wait until after the first trimester to obtain the benefits of prenatal massage.
In an interview for American Baby Magazine, Rosser says, “The first trimester is the critical time when everything is starting to form,” she says. “Many people aren’t comfortable in the first trimester anyway; they’re just not feeling well.” In other words, benefits of prenatal massage could wait until after the first trimester has past.
Regardless of these expert opinions, one fact remains that women prone to high-risk pregnancy should take special caution and first consult an ob-gyn before adding prenatal massage to their pregnancy regimen.
However, what defines a high-risk pregnancy?
- High-risk pregnancy results from existing health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Being pregnant and overweight can also be a contributing factor in high-risk pregnancies because it increases the chances of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. A 2010, National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, revealed that obesity increases the likelihood of giving birth to a child with a heart defect.
- Women carrying more than one fetus (twins, triplets, etc.) are at risk of having high-risk pregnancies, and have a greater chance of giving birth before 37 weeks gestation.
Women with the following conditions may seek advice from an ob-gyn before engaging in prenatal massage.
- Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) is basically a form of high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy. If it is not monitored properly, it can lead to preeclampsia another very serious pregnancy complication. Both PIH and preeclampsia occurs more often in first time mothers.
- Preeclampsia is a very serious condition what usually affect first time mothers. It is a combination of high blood pressure and protein the urine. If it is not immediately and properly taken care of the condition can cause harm to both mother and child.
- Previous pre-term labor
- Recently gave birth
If prenatal massage is considered a safe route, after speaking with an Ob-Gyn, research and seek out a certified massage therapist with special knowledge of prenatal massage.
Pregnancy can be a time of powerful emotions and transition in life development. Do what is needed to lessen the discomfort and increase the possibility delivering a strong and healthy baby.
Massage Addiction. Prenatal Massage. Retrieved Feb 18, 2015, from http://www.massageinmeridian.com/popular-procedures/prenatal-massage/
NIH. (2010). Risk of newborn heart defects increases with maternal obesity. Retrieved February 16, 2015, from http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2010/nichd-07.htm
American Baby Magazine. Parents.com. (2014) Is It Safe to Get a Massage for Pregnancy Back Pain? Retrieved February 17, 2015 from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/aches-pains/is-a-massage-safe-for-pregnancy-back-pain/
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2013)Obesity in Pregnancy. Retrieved February 17, 2015 from https://www.acog.org/Resources_And_Publications/Committee_Opinions/Committee_on_Obstetric_Practice/Obesity_in_Pregnancy