Let us finally uncover why prenatal massage therapy is a necessity for pregnant mothers.
A mother’s pregnancy is an extraordinary time for her. However, despite the generosity of this gift, it’s also a significant burden on her.
Pregnancy necessitates that you’re physically, mentally and emotionally invested in caring for your future child. Nature offers no concessions when it comes to carrying a child in your womb. But we’re here to care for you and your child by maximizing your comfort.
What is a Prenatal Massage?
Prenatal massage is a type of massage for a pregnant woman that aims to improve her mental and physical health.
The goal is to relieve any tension, stress, or pain present in her body. A prenatal massage can also help her bond with her unborn baby and alleviate pregnancy back pain from carrying excess body weight. Massage during pregnancy also helps increase circulation, which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Due to the effects of stress reduction, other indirect benefits of prenatal massage include a better night’s sleep, resulting in a boost to her immune system.
Prenatal Massage Vs. Perineal Massage
It is helpful to distinguish between the two types of prenatal massage, therapeutic prenatal massage and perineal massage.
Therapeutic prenatal massages are an essential part of prenatal care. They promote the baby’s wellbeing and are healing for the mother. They are a type of full-body massage similar to a Swedish Massage with a few minor differences to ensure safety and comfort for mother and baby. The therapeutic benefits include
- reduce swelling
- improve mood
- stress relive ( from pregnancy anxiety or depression )
- improved sleep
Perineal massages, in contrast, are done for one specific purpose only – to help with the birthing process by widening the birth canal. One or two fingers stretch the perineal tissue around the opening of the vagina to prep the baby’s head during vaginal birth. The process of perineal massage occurs 4-6 weeks before childbirth over several sessions. When done successfully, it reduces the risk of trauma or episiotomy during delivery. At Soul 2 Sole we focus on therapeutic prenatal massage. A perineal massage is a self-massage or one done by a partner. Consult a midwife or family physician regarding your technique and best practices.
Why do women need therapeutic prenatal massage therapy?
1. Hormone Regulation
Introducing massage therapy during a woman’s prenatal period leads to much pain relief. Therapeutic prenatal massage enables the mother to relax and de-stress, improving her emotional wellbeing and cardiovascular health.
A stressed pregnant woman can suffer from fluctuating levels of cortisol and norepinephrine. Since cortisol is responsible for inducing stress, it can make the woman feel constantly distressed, resulting in a compromised immune system. With the help of prenatal massages, dopamine and serotonin levels can increase and cure depressive episodes and erratic mood swings.
2. Reduce Swelling (Edema)
The expansion of the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels, which causes the joints to swell. This additional pressure, paired with restricted movement and reduced blood circulation, further aggravates the condition. A massage helps stimulate the soft tissues, which triggers the body’s lymph system to remove the collection of fluids in the joints that can cause swelling.
3. Reduce Sciatic Nerve Pain
As the uterus descends on the pelvic floor, expecting mothers often experience sciatic nerve pain during their last few months. The extra weight and pressure on the lower back from an expanding uterus can contribute to spinal changes triggering nerve pain (sciatica). Sciatic nerve pain is most common later on during pregnancy as your baby grows. Symptoms include
- Leg pain
- Poor bladder control
- Numbness, tingling, or pins and needles in your legs
4. Improved Circulation
Better circulation means that the body can supply more oxygen and nutrients to the different organs. More importantly, this means that these same nutrients will reach your baby more quickly and contribute to growth and development in the womb.
Better circulation also contributes to decreased stress. It does this by lowering the stress hormone cortisol levels and simultaneously increasing endorphins, making you feel good.
5. Improve Immunity
Numerous studies show that sleep helps the immune system. Therefore, one of the most important benefits of prenatal massage is to improve the quality of sleep. A good night’s rest helps a pregnant mother heal, rebuild and recover from all the stresses of childbirth. Quality downtime is vital, so you have more energy the next day. A good prenatal massage will improve a mother’s ability to fall asleep by increasing the body’s production of serotonin – the hormone responsible for optimal mood and pain relief. More serotonin leads the body to produce more melatonin which helps with improving your sleep-wake cycle. Therefore if you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep and it impacts your energy levels the next day, a prenatal massage will help you get a better night’s sleep and strengthen your immune system.
Do You Lay On Your Stomach During A Prenatal Massage?
As mentioned, most prenatal massages revolve around the mother lying on her side. However, this doesn’t mean the only example of the massage is when the woman is on her side. As long as the woman is comfortable, laying on her stomach during the massage is perfectly fine and won’t hurt the baby.
What Do You Wear to a Prenatal Massage?
Prenatal massages don’t require special outfits for someone to wear. The mother can wear as much or as little clothing as they’re comfortable wearing. Most experts recommend keeping underwear on with towels over for coverage. This method helps the parts that are being massaged as the only ones being exposed.
The stress of impending childbirth can put expecting women under added pressure. Prenatal massages can take some of that worry away! They work on tensed nerves and reduce inflammation by massaging nearby muscles.