Blog by Courtney
I can’t even count on my fingers how many times my pregnant clients have turned around to me and said that they cannot believe they waited so long to have a pregnancy massage.
Don’t get me wrong I know from experience that in your final trimester, you are most uncomfortable and just want your baby out….BUT did you know that you can help reduce that discomfort by having regular massages throughout the WHOLE of your pregnancy. Amazing right?
Well let me explain how but first lets just cover a commonly asked question … is pregnancy massage safe? As a mum to be, it is perfectly normal to have a lot of questions about absolutely everything regarding the safety of your baby evenlike massage. It is only natural and instinctive to be cautious about whether something you do during your pregnancy can significantly affect your baby. So let me answer for you now before I discuss the benefits of pregnancy massage and how these are optimised through regular massage
If you have a healthy pregnancy, massage is safe and effective way to help ease those aches and discomforts from pregnancy, reduce stress and just a simple way to just relax, unwind and bond with your baby. It is advised to start after your 12 weekscan for precautionary measures, please don’t worry if you have had a massage prior to this and you did not know you were pregnant, it would not have harmed your growing baby.
There are a few pregnancy related conditions that may mean you cannot receive massage without midwife or GP written consent or some that may require adaptions to make it suitable.
Due to the nature of the massage and uncertainty that some mums-to-be experience there should always be a thorough consultation to ensure that treatment is completely tailored to your specific needs with regularly check ins at the beginning of every session to make sure everything is ok. I hope that makes you feel reassured about getting a pregnancy massage.
Pregnancy and motherhood are one of the most amazing and precious experiences but comes with an emotional transition that brings a lot of changes for all involved especially the mother. It is extremely important to ensure that a pregnant mother’s stress levels are kept as low as possible as to not have an adverse effect on their pregnancy and baby .. this is where massage plays an essential part to ensure that the mother can relax and de stress from the expectations and pressures of becoming a new mother.
Massage and nurturing touch through pregnancy, labour and postpartum is not a new concept, it has been part of the healthcare in many cultures. As a massage therapist we are nurturing mothers through their journey which in turns help them nurture their babies better. It is important to nurture and support mothers just as it is babies and children. Pregnancy massage is NOT just a pamper session! It can improve the wellbeing of both mother and baby and has numerous other benefits. Let’s discuss ….
There are now a variety of studies that suggest pregnancy massage has numerous positive effects: including reduced chance of prenatal and postpartum depression, prematurity and low birth weight, improvement in sleep, low cortisol levels – reduction of stress, fear & anxiety and less pain, discomfort and complications during both pregnancy and labour.
Massage can encourage a mother to intrinsically relax and concentrate on her own body and mind rather than external events which is the prefect preparation for coping with the demands of labour and birth. The variation in massage strokes, pressure and rhythm can flood the sensory nerve pathways with input and activate the parasympathetic nervous system known as the “rest and digest” increasing body awareness, overrides signals of pain and stress and promoting balance and calm. This in turns can lead to a steady blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate, increased blood flow to the baby and placenta, healthier immune function, emotional state, and optimal fetal positioning may be more likely too.
Pregnancy also brings a lot of physiological changes to and some of these can results in pain and discomfort. Massage can support the body during these changes and may help to reduce the intensity and duration of these symptoms. Overall, skin stimulation via touch will stimulate the brain creating positive effects in all the body systems of both mother and baby. This means that it promotes the production of hormones especially progesterone, oestrogen, oxytocin, and prolactin which help to improvement in placenta functioning.
The MAIN reason why people decide to get a massage is for the reduction of muscular pain and discomfort and is commonly the only benefit that is FELT following any type of massage. Which is why people WAIT to get a massage until the pain or discomfort it too much BUT ideally it is better to treat earlier to help reduce discomfort and begin maintaining muscular structure and performance. Maintenance massage is KEY. Discomfort during pregnancy is commonly due to structural stresses, strained postures, fatigue, or tension appearing in the ribcage, upper & lower back, neck and legs and laxity of ligaments, tendons due to the increased production of relaxin which help to accommodating your growing body and prepares your body for birth.
Preparing for labour! … when you have that sudden fear and panic about how the hell are you going to push a baby out! BUT our bodies are BEYOND AMAZING! Many of my ladies are surprised by this benefit which is has a better outcome with regular massage as they were unaware that massage therapy could help in this aspect of pregnancy. Physical flexibility and body awareness with activities that strengthen your muscles such as yoga can have a positive impact on your labour preparation. FYI if you are looking for an amazing, specialised pregnancy yoga instructor, Jess at Little Yoga Warriors is the one! Obviously, there is no guarantees when it comes to labour and birth every woman’s body is different, but it most definitely can contribute to shorter, less painful labours with few complications and interventions.
Enhancing your body awareness is one of the many benefits of prenatal massage therapy and exercise. A “feedback loop” of the sensory motor system creates a heightened sensory awareness and perception, new body understanding and better control over your muscles. Ultimately leading to a less painful and more at ease labour. This can be very empowering for a woman once they gain self-awareness while relaxed and support through massage which then gives them the confidence to communicate with health care providers and birthing partner her needs and wants according to how she feels.
So, ladies don’t wait for until your last trimester or last few weeks of pregnancy to get a massage and see it as a luxury! See pregnancy massage as a treatment that can help support and empower you and your journey. When someone asks about a baby shower gift, include yourself in those gifts! Like I said before, a mother needs to looked after just as much as her baby!
Thank you for reading first of many blogs by me, I hope you enjoyed it x
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