Pregnant ladies are often much more conscious of how they look after themselves whilst pregnant, and can often be a little cautious when it comes to what is safe and not safe to do.
One thing that studies have shown over and over, is that women can greatly benefit from regular massages throughout pregnancy and afterwards.
Here are some of the reasons why pregnancy massage needs to be at the top of your self-care regime during those precious 9 months.
- Carrying a baby (or babies) places unusual strains on muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which pregnancy massage can ease. It can support your body to adjust and cope better with the postural adaptations created by your growing uterus. Even sciatic pain and sacro-iliac joint dysfunction, often thought to be a normal part of pregnancy, can be relieved or removed altogether.
- Pregnancy massage assists in remedying many of the common symptoms including headaches, leg cramps, sciatica, stiffness, tension and knots, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, heartburn and acid reflux, fatigue, varicose veins, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, swelling of the feet, legs and ankles, neck pain, sacroiliac and hip joint pain and constipation.
- Pregnancy 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 pelvis, blood flow to the heart is hindered. Improving your circulation through massage also improves your immune system, so you are less likely to catch infections.
- Women experience significant mental and emotional relaxation with a pregnancy massage. Massage soothes and relaxes the nervous system by releasing endorphins into the mother’s body. As a result, you will feel more relaxed and at ease. This prepares you for an easier birth, as massage has a sedating effect on your nervous system reducing your perception of pain.
- Massage provides you with the emotional support and nurturing touch that helps the release of oxytocin, the hormone that helps to reduce levels of fear and anxiety. Oxytocin release during massage also helps you to form a deeper bond and connection with your unborn baby.
- Multiple studies show that massage reduces symptoms of depression. Studies show pregnancy massage produces higher levels of feel good hormones (dopamine and serotonin) and lower levels of stress hormones (cortisol and norepinephrine). When the body feels better, so does the mind. This eases stress related to pregnancy and you will also sleep more easily and more deeply. Fatigue is a common in pregnancy, so pregnancy massage can help re-energise you, to get through your days and get ready to add to your family.
- Studies show that women who have received regular prenatal massage tend to have shorter labours. Their babies are more likely to be healthier, as measured by higher Apgar Behavioural Assessment scores. Babies were also less likely to be born prematurely, have low birthweight, had lower stress hormone levels and normal heart rate patterns.
How often should an expectant mama receive massage to gain the most benefit?
The research does not answer that question, yet. My suggestion is to receive a session at least once a month. The gold standard, however is to receive one session in your fourth and fifth months, two sessions in your sixth and seventh months, three sessions in your eighth month, and four sessions in your ninth month. With each session, your body is practicing more with deeper relaxation, and tension patterns are lessened or erased. There is an increasing effect as each session builds on the last one.
Mama Wellness offers a 45-minute back neck and shoulder massage in the wonderfully comfortable front laying nest cushion. I also offer a 90-minute full body massage where you are supported with lots of pillows on my extra wide and soft couch for comfort and relaxation. You can book single sessions, or purchase a package of 5 sessions which enables you to save £££s.
My next article will be about how aromatherapy can boost your massage experience in pregnancy, and how these powerful and natural oils can benefit you throughout your pregnancy and birth.