Pregnancy is difficult for many women. Magazines and cele brities make it look effortless, but for women on a budget, relief from the strains of carrying another life can be hard to find. Prenatal massage is a reprieve from some of the aches and pains of motherhood without medication. Prenatal massage is beneficial for both mother and baby and can even help when it comes time for delivery.
The Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Aside from relaxation, mothers tend to get prenatal massage for its many health benefits. One of the largest benefits is a reduction in stress. Carrying another life is an incredible burden that comes with many restrictions and rules. Pregnancy massage can ease the tension of everyday life and provides a respite from the struggles of motherhood. Stress reduction is something that many mothers have to focus on but don’t have time for, as stress can be unhealthy for the baby. However, with so many women going to work and handling other responsibilities, there are few opportunities for stress reduction. Pregnancy massage is time-flexible and is easy for mothers to find a chance to relax in their otherwise busy schedules.
Another symptom that pregnancy massage can relieve is headaches. Headaches are caused by many different ailments, such as dehydration, tension, or muscle tightness. Massaging the shoulders, neck, and temple areas is a great way to relieve even the most stubborn of headaches. Massage also relieves overall muscle tension and is a great way to manage soreness of muscles from carrying a new life. Make sure to speak with your therapist beforehand to alert them of any particularly concerning or painful areas so that they may both focus on those areas and also recommend exercises or massage to do at home to relieve pain.
Prenatal massage is also excellent for fatigue and backaches caused by pregnancy. One of the most common ailments pregnant women report is back pain, caused by the excess strain of having a pregnant belly. Fatigue is also very common, as much of the body’s energy is directed towards the developing baby. For back pain, the therapist can focus on the muscle groups between the shoulder blades and above the waist, where pain is most prominent. For fatigue, massage increases blood flow and aids in the circulatory system, so nutrients can be spread throughout the body and toxins can be flushed out by the lymphatic system.
Overall join pain can also be relieved with massage, as the weight from the baby can cause strain on crucial areas such as knees, ankles, and hips. Another great benefit is reduction in swelling, as massage improves blood flow and keeps fluids from collecting in one area of the body. Pregnant women often find that their feet swell during pregnancy, and a foot massage or full-body massage can assist in relieving this particular ailment.
Pregnancy massage has been shown to improve sleep and general wellness overall. With regular massage, many pregnant women experience an increase in dopamine and serotonin levels, as well as a reduction in stress-causing hormones. This helps mothers sleep easier and acts as a natural pain killer. Along with balanced hormones, pregnancy massage eases overall tension and specific pains so expecting mothers can rest easier. Plenty of sleep and an elevated mood is crucial for the health of the baby.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Massage
Even a normal massage can be an anxiety-causing experience for someone who has never had one. Pregnancy is full of dos and don’ts to make sure that the baby stays healthy. It is always important to keep the mother’s health in mind, so choosing the right massage therapist is very crucial. Look for someone with specific training and a certification in prenatal massage. These therapists are first and foremost very experienced in working with pregnant clients, and therefore can utilize techniques to relieve certain ailments associated with pregnancy. Furthermore, certified specialists also know which areas of the body to avoid, in order to best care for the mother’s comfort and health. Take time to research online for prenatal massage therapists in your area, or even ask your obstetrician if they have any recommendations.
While on the topic of doctors, make sure to ask yours about any concerns you may have with pregnancy massage. Prenatal massage is considered safe after the 1st trimester for normal, healthy pregnancies. However, mothers who are anxious or may have complications in their pregnancy, make sure to ask your doctor about whether prenatal massage will be beneficial and safe. Mothers with the following health conditions should always ask their doctors before considering pregnancy massage:
- Previous pre-term labor
- Severe swelling
While pregnancy massage can help relieve these symptoms in a healthy pregnancy, if these conditions are a health risk, make sure to speak to your obstetrician.
Prenatal Massage Positioning
Once you’ve found a therapist that you trust and works for you, the next step is scheduling the massage. Many mothers find that weekly or bi-weekly massages allow them to experience continuous relief and relaxation and stop ailments before they begin. Before your first massage, make sure to communicate with your therapist, alerting them to any painful areas or places of concern.
When it comes to prenatal massage, massage therapists have their own preferences to positioning. For therapists without special equipment, they may have mothers lay on their sides, achieving access to crucial muscle groups that way. However, many certified prenatal massage therapists have a specialized table or bolster specifically for prenatal massage.
The Earthlite Spirit™ Pregnancy table is specially designed for expecting mothers, with a special cut out in the table for the mother’s stomach and breasts. Unlike many other pregnancy tables, the Spirit™ Pregnancy table has a woven, flexible material so that the stomach is cradled, rather than being left unsupported. This table allows mothers to lie face down so that therapists have full access to the neck and back muscles without having to have their clients rotate constantly.
In addition, Earthlite’s pregnancy cushion and headrest is perfect for therapists that serve both regular and pregnant clients, as it allows practitioners to lay the cushion on their table and it acts as a prenatal massage table. The cushion also has cut outs for the stomach and breasts and is exceptionally comfortable. The pregnancy cushion can also be purchased by pregnant mothers who wish to take naps or sleep face down, as a relief from constantly sleeping on their sides.