Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Before Western medical practices displaced traditional midwifery, the touch and massage of a midwife or birth attendant was a central component of prenatal care around the world. Prenatal massage and compassionate touch during the childbearing year are more than a primitive practice or luxurious pampering; they are an essential and vital part of holistic maternity care. In the medical model of care, pregnancy is viewed as a pathological process, and the woman given information about her body (if at all) in very impersonal, clinical terms. So many women (and their partners) come to the antenatal check-ups worried about even touching their belly (and baby) for fear of harming it. Whereas in traditional cultures it is very common for the mother to receive a massage from her mother, mother-in-law, aunt or midwife many times through her pregnancy and during labor, for the current urban nuclear-family first time mom, this is an absolute rarity.
So, what are some of the documented benefits of prenatal massage?
Prenatal massage offers a wide range of physiological, emotional and psychological benefits.
- Alleviates stress on weight-bearing joints and musculo-fascial structures
- Assists in remedying many of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy: muscular discomforts, lower-back pain, upper-back/neck pain, sacro-iliac and hip joint pain, headaches, leg cramps, sciatica, stiffness, tension and knots, carpal tunnel syndrome, heartburn, fatigue, varicose veins, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, edema of the lower extremities, and constipation
- Increases blood circulation, which provides more oxygen and nutrients to both mother and fetus and stimulates the lymph system, thereby increasing immunity and removal of toxins
- Stabilizes hormonal levels and helps relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal change
- Soothes and relaxes the nervous system by releasing endorphins into the mother’s body. As a result, the expectant mother feels more relaxed and at ease, and will also sleep more easily and more deeply
- Assists in maintaining good posture and adjusting to a changing alignment caused by the baby’s increasing weight. Massage increases muscle tone and flexibility, enhancing the ability to carry this extra weight while also relieving aches and pains, leg cramps and muscle spasms
- Enhances the pliability of skin and underlying tissues
- Supports the return of blood to the heart and increases blood flow to the uterus and placenta. With the enormous demands placed on the circulatory system during pregnancy, blood volume may increase up to 60 percent compared to pre-pregnancy levels. As pregnancy progresses and the uterus enlarges and presses deep into the pelvic bowl, venous return to the heart is hampered
- Prepares the mother-to-be for an easier delivery with its sedating effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation and stress relief
- Offers a natural, safe, drug-free alternative choice for pain relief, since taking medications are often limited during a pregnancy for the sake of the unborn child
In addition to the physical benefits, prenatal massage provides expecting women with the emotional support and nurturing touch provided by human touch and energy. To quote Kara Maia Spencer, “Compassionate touch of the mother during pregnancy and childbirth is essential for the development of maternal touching of the infant. Tactile stimulation of the newborn is necessary for healthy development and immunological resistance.”
During labor and birth, massage and touch are non-verbal communication between the mother and her midwife or mother and her labor partner. Being deeply intuitive, it does not require stimulation of the left brain. Touch and massage (if the laboring woman likes it), tell her that someone is present solely for her, giving her comfort and soft encouragement, without disturbing her primal state of giving birth.
So, how do you get all the benefits of prenatal massage? Find a therapist who specializes in pregnancy massage – Swedish massage, Belly massage, Foot Reflexology, or Aromatherapy Massage. Each has its own benefits and helps you feel relaxed, pampered and energized.
To reap maximum benefits of prenatal massage during labor and birth, Lisa Goldstein has the following advice – “Practice massage on the pregnant woman before her due date so you know what touch she responds to best and what she doesn’t feel comfortable with, either physically or emotionally. This also opens a fluid awareness of communication between you. Mother, mentally relax toward the place being massaged or touched. Massager, relax your hands before beginning; remove rings, use oil or lotion; make your movements slow, gentle and fluid; pay attention to what you are doing; and care about the person you’re touching.”
So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself a prenatal massage today!
Healthy Mother staff are experts in combining the best practices in holistic massage therapy with pregnancy specific expertise to give expecting mothers the best of all worlds.
The WellMom By Healthy Mother suite of services includes Pregnancy Massage services such as a) Foot Massage and Reflexology, b) Swedish Massage and c) Aromatherapy for expecting mothers that instills in them a feeling of calmness, relaxation and freedom from various discomforts.
Our WellMom Lounge @Kondapur has a holistic Massage and Spa center where you can relax, attend Prenatal Massage, Yoga, meet other expecting mothers, chat over refreshing juice and snacks or even Telecommute to Work.
Call us at 78930 68666 to visit the WellMom Lounge and learn about our various services for would-be mothers.
1) Lisa Goldstein, excerpted from “Practice Massage before Birth,” Sharing Midwifery Knowledge, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. IV, a Midwifery Today book
2) Kara Maia Spencer, Excerpted from MT E-News: “The Primal Touch of Birth: Midwives, Mothers and Massage,” Midwifery Today, Issue 70