Prenatal massage or massage during pregnancy has many benefits:
There are many studies that have been done on prenatal massage therapy during pregnancy. All indications are that prenatal massage is safe and beneficial in many ways. The studies and data indicate that massage therapy can reduce anxiety, relieve muscle aches and joint inflammation and even help decrease depression symptoms brought on by pregnancy. In some studies, it was even suggested that massage therapy improves the health of newborns and labor in general.
Massage therapy addresses different needs using many techniques, including therapeutic massage (often referred to as Swedish Massage). This technique targets muscle relaxation and improve lymphatic and blood circulation. During the massage, mild pressure is applied to the muscles, which result in relieving discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, recent studies have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health, when massage therapy was introduced to women’s prenatal care. In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (“stress hormones”) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression). These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence points strongly to maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.
Reduction of Swelling
Due to a heavy uterus, circulation may often be reduced, resulting in swelling. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints.
Nerve Pain Decreased
Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have experienced significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through regular massage.
Other potential benefits of prenatal massage:
- Reduced back pain
- Reduced joint pain
- Improved circulation
- Reduced edema
- Reduced muscle tension and headaches
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
- Better sleep
Is prenatal massage safe throughout the entire pregnancy?
Women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy – during the first, second, or third trimester. Many facilities, including Keystone Massage Therapy feel it is better to wait until the second trimester, due to the increased statistics for miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (which has no correlation to massage therapy).
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