Pregnancy is a beautiful and natural condition — nine transformative months full of excitement, planning and peering at the awesome unfolding of life. But this transformation also brings inevitable side effects. In the early months, there are mood swings from ecstasy to unpredictable crying; in later months, there are aches and pains more common to the elderly. Physical changes, such as nausea, back pain, heartburn, raging hormones, breast pain, and swollen legs and ankles affect many women during this time. But you don't have to suffer in silence. The gentle, noninvasive approach of pregnancy massage can ease your discomfort, help you prepare for labor and give you the emotional support of a caring practitioner. Massage sessions can also put you into a state of relaxation and calm acceptance of your continually evolving physical form.
The Science Behind Prenatal Massage
Massage has many scientifically proven health benefits such as stimulating the blood and lymph systems, thereby increasing immunity and removal of toxins; stabilizing hormonal levels; and adding tone and flexibility to muscles — all of which enhance the health of both you and your baby. As pregnancy progresses, your body adjusts to a changing alignment caused by the baby's increasing weight. This puts strain on your back and legs and increases stress on weight-bearing joints. Massage increases flexibility, enhancing the ability to carry this extra weight while also relieving aches and pains, leg cramps and muscle spasms. The effects of relaxation and tension release add to improvement in the physical state of muscles and joints and assist in balancing emotions.
Recent studies from the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami, Fla., indicates that pregnancy massage provides more than just symptom relief for the mother. A group of 26 pregnant women were given either massage or relaxation therapy during a five-week study. In addition to experiencing a reduction in symptoms of anxiety, stress, sleep problems and back pain, the massage group had fewer complications in their delivery. Their newborns also had fewer postnatal complications. Another TRI study reported massage during labor resulted in shorter labor times for the mothers, shorter hospital stays, and less postpartum depression.
Top 5 Reasons Why You Need Prenatal Massage Therapy
- Massage therapy is the most common alternative therapy recommended during pregnancy by medical professionals.
- The women who received prenatal massage therapy reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain.
- Depressed pregnant women, that began prenatal massage, experienced fewer prenatal complications.
- Studies on labor pain showed that women receiving massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and their labors were on average 3 hours shorter with less need for medication.
- Some of the most important findings were related to the lower incidence of prematurity and low birthweight in massaged depressed women.
Take the next step and start your path to feeling better and having a healthier and happier birth experience.
Cited: Wang SM, Dezinno P, Fermo L, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine for low-back pain in pregnancy: a cross-sectional survey. J. Altern. Complement. Med. 2005;11:459–464.