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Benefits of Prenatal Massage Therapy

Prenatal massage therapy is a great option for prenatal care because it’s a noninvasive, drug-free, all natural way to calm the nervous system and alleviate difficult pregnancy side effects that is both beneficial to mom and baby. Research has shown that prenatal massage can help reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches, joint pains, improve labor outcomes and improve newborn health according to the American Pregnancy Association.It’s another way to connect the mind, body and soul which can be comforting especially when someone is growing a tiny human inside of them. Pregnant mamas often undergo a lot of pain in the low back, pelvic, neck, shoulder or around the joints and research has shown massage therapy can help. According to Very Well Family, prenatal massage can also help to improve the quality of sleep and insomnia in women too. One of the major ways massage helps quality of sleep is that it promotes relaxation and stress reduction.

Although many different types of body work can be used, Swedish massage therapy is recommended for pregnancy massage. The goal of Swedish massage is to relieve the body of muscle tension and improve blood and lymphatic circulation to various muscle groups in the body. Swedish massage is recommended because “it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts” (American Pregnancy Association). Over the past 10 years, studies have shown that massage helps to balance hormone levels tied with stress and relaxation. Prenatal massage can also help with cardiovascular health. The American Pregnancy Association cites that, In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (hormones associated with stress) were reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression).” What this means is that a new mom will have less trouble during birth and less risk of newborn complication when massage therapy is a part of regular prenatal care. Research has also shown the actual delivery can be easier due to regular prenatal massage helping a mother be in a more relaxed state.

It’s also been shown that prenatal massage therapy can alleviate sciatic nerve pain that many women experience in late pregnancy. Sciatic nerve pain happens when the uterus rests on the muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back and spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves (American Pregnancy Association). Massage helps to ease inflamed nerves. It’s best to incorporate therapeutic prenatal massage regularly as part of your overall prenatal treatment plan. Other benefits of prenatal massage are:

One difference between regular massage and prenatal massage is that a new mama usually lays on her side during the massage to keep her and the baby safe. Usually pillows or different types of padding will be used for support so the client is comfortable and the baby is safe. Pregnancy massages refrain from strong pressure and are more gentle. According to What To Expect, “Prenatal massages are adapted for the anatomical changes you go through during pregnancy. In a traditional massage, you might spend half the time lying face-down on your stomach (which is not possible with a baby belly) and half the time facing up (a position that puts pressure on a major blood vessel that can disrupt blood flow to your baby and leave you feeling nauseous). But as your shape and posture changes, a trained massage therapist will make accommodations with special cushioning systems or holes that allow you to lie face down safely, while providing room for your growing belly and breasts. Or you might lie on your side with the support of pillows and cushions.” Each massage can be tailored to each individual client. Pregnancy is dynamic and by speaking to the therapist about how a pregnant woman is feeling will guarantee the best support. According to Very Well Family, “properly trained pregnancy massage therapists will know which areas to avoid for your stage of pregnancy and condition. Some massage therapists may avoid additional areas such as pressure points in the ankles, foot, and sacrum (a large triangular bone at the base of the spine), although there is no evidence that these pressure points can induce premature labor.

In helping promote circulation throughout the body, prenatal massage helps a new mom and fetus get more oxygen and nutrients. It also stimulates the lymph system which can increase immune, removal of toxins and help prevent swelling. The only time massage won’t help to reduce swelling is in the case of preeclampsia. According to Massage Magazine, prenatal massage, “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.” According to Massage Magazine, prenatal massage helps a pregnant mama maintain good posture and helps her adjust to changing alignment caused by the baby growing. It also increases muscle tone and flexibility which helps a new mom be able to carry the extra weight and relieves aches and pains, leg cramps and muscle spasms. Prenatal massage also helps with the pliability of skin and underlying tissue which can be attributed to less stretch marks. It’s also been shown that prenatal massage can relieve carpal tunnel pain, and alleviate headaches and sinus congestion.

Give us a call at (970) 315 - WELL to discuss how we can use massage therapy and other modalities to help support you in your pregnancy journey. We also use Nutrition Response Testing to determine imbalance in the body and work to get pregnant mamas on a whole foods plan (not diet!) that works best for them.


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