To promote the well-being of both the expectant mother and her developing child, it is essential to explore various methods of relaxation and stress reduction. One such method, which has gained popularity and recognition over the years, is regular massage during pregnancy.
Massage therapy, specifically tailored for expectant mothers, has become an integral part of prenatal care for many women. This practice is not merely a luxurious indulgence but has been increasingly recognised for its potential to address the unique needs and challenges of pregnancy.
Here I will explore the benefits and considerations associated with regular pregnancy massage, showing why it has become an important component of prenatal healthcare.
Why have regular massage in pregnancy?
Regular massage is very beneficial throughout pregnancy to help support the changing body, ease discomforts and prepare for birth.
Women feel the responsibility of growing a little human and may have concerns regarding the birth and transition to motherhood. Combine this with possible physical symptoms of nausea, fatigue, body aches and sleep disruptions and it’s no wonder women can feel overwhelmed at times during their pregnancy.
Massage from a qualified, experienced pregnancy practitioner can provide benefits such as:
- Relief from muscular tension, backache and pelvic pain
The pain-relieving effects of massage come from improved blood and lymph circulation, the release of endorphins and serotonin and the relaxation that comes from therapeutic touch. Specific massage techniques help to provide pain relief from pregnancy-related discomforts such as back and pelvic pain, and improve mobility.
Several studies have shown women experience reduced back and leg pain with regular massage. I also hear this in the feedback from my clients.
- Reduction in swelling, carpal tunnel and leg cramps
Special drainage techniques used in pregnancy massage can help improve circulation and reduce fluid retention. Simply taking the time to rest also helps to decrease swelling in extremities.
- Improved mood
Massage has been recognised for its ability to influence the release of neurotransmitters in the body, including serotonin and dopamine, as well as decreasing levels of stress hormones (cortisol).
Serotonin is often referred to as the “feel good” chemical and helps to regulate mood and emotions. The soothing strokes of a massage can increase levels of serotonin leading to a reduction in stress and anxiety. Levels of dopamine, associated with pleasure and reward, also rise leading to feelings of contentment. The relationship between massage and these neurotransmitters is a major contributing factor to the psychological benefits of massage therapy.
- Reduced feelings of depression and anxiety
We hear a lot about postnatal depression, but it’s important to be aware of the possibility of antenatal depression. Signs of antenatal depression may be linked to hormonal changes, tiredness and pregnancy discomforts. Regular massage can help balance these issues. Some studies suggest that both the depressed pregnant woman as well as her baby can benefit from massage.
One study done by the Touch Research Institute showed a reduction in anxiety, stress hormones and obstetrical complications in women who received regular massage during their pregnancies.
Another study showed aromatherapy and massage have successfully been used to help reduce anxiety in pregnancy.
Regular massage with a trusted practitioner also provides a safe space for women to voice their concerns and feel heard and supported.
- Improved sleep patterns
“I had the best night’s sleep.”
I hear this feedback a lot from women after they’ve been for a pregnancy massage.
Massage releases serotonin which in turn is used to regulate melatonin levels. Melatonin is responsible for regulating our circadian rhythms and telling our brains to prepare for sleep.
Also, as per all the points above, a reduction in discomforts, stress and anxiety will all help to promote better sleep.
- Positive mother – baby connection
Carving out the time and space to connect with the ever-changing body and growing baby is a wonderful reason to have massage during pregnancy. This can be especially important for women who already have children. Sometimes they are so busy it’s easy to forget they’re pregnant!
When should I have massage in pregnancy?
Although timing can depend on your specific needs, the general recommendation is to time your massages around your check-ups with your midwife or doctor. Prior to your massage treatment we need to check that all is going well with your pregnancy, so it can be helpful to know what your blood pressure is and the results of any recent scans or blood tests.
Massage schedule during pregnancy would look something like this:
- Early pregnancy to 30 weeks: massage every 3-4 weeks
- 30 weeks to 36 weeks: massage every 2-3 weeks
- 36 weeks until birth: weekly massage to help prepare for birth
Preparation for birth
Many women ask about “induction massage” Unfortunately there is no magic massage (or aromatherapy) wand that will induce labour. If there was, we would not need medical inductions!
However, there is much we can do to help prepare the body – and the mind – leading up to the expected time of birth. Birth preparation treatments help to:
– Enhance relaxation and visualisation prep for birth
– Reduce stress hormones (cortisol) and increase oxytocin levels
– Reduce tension around hips and lower back and pelvis to help facilitate labour and birth
– Acupressure to help prepare the body for birth
– I use essential oils appropriate to each woman’s need at this stage.
Aromatherapy massage treatments can also be useful to prepare for a booked induction of labour.
Is massage safe in pregnancy?
Contrary to popular belief, massage and aromatherapy are safe during all trimesters of pregnancy under the guidance of a qualified, experienced therapist. It’s never too early and it’s never too late to have massage during your pregnancy. Positioning and massage techniques are adjusted according to your gestation and any specific concerns or problems you are experiencing.
Life is busy. Regular appointments with a qualified, pregnancy practitioner can also provide a safe space to check in with your body and mind and voice any concerns you may have.
🍃 Ready to experience the rejuvenating benefits of pregnancy massage? Treat yourself and your baby to moments of relaxation and well-being. Book your soothing session now and embark on a journey of comfort and tranquility. Click here to schedule your pregnancy massage and nurture the mind, body, and soul during this special time. 🍃