Pregnancy can be a literal pain in the neck…and back, and calves, and hips, and basically any part of your body! Growing a human being is a lot of work and can really take its toll on a woman’s physical health, which is why moms-to-be should totally treat themselves to regular prenatal massages!
Many women aren’t aware of the multitude of prenatal massage benefits, especially if they aren’t accustomed to getting massages while not pregnant. Many women think that massages are simply an indulgence to be saved for a vacation or special occasion, but prenatal massages have many health benefits that can not only make pregnancy more enjoyable but can help alleviate a lot of both the mental and physical stress pregnant women may be experiencing.
For the most part, prenatal massages are perfectly safe, as long as you follow a few guidelines. Seeing a massage therapist who is trained in prenatal massage will ensure your therapist knows exactly what techniques to use on your pregnant body. Discussing your pregnancy and any concerns you have will allow your therapist to treat you in the safest way possible. Most experts also advise that a pregnant woman avoid massages during the first trimester.
“The fear is that in the hands of a massage therapist not trained in prenatal care, the massage would cause stress to the body and harm the baby, as opposed to offering the benefits of de-stressing,” Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist with Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery told The Bump. Some experts also state that massages can also trigger dizziness and exacerbate nausea if done during the first trimester. However, the American Pregnancy Association states that prenatal massage can be done at any stage of pregnancy, so it’s always best to discuss any concerns with your doctor and massage therapist ahead of time.
Prenatal massages are typically done with the mother-to-be laying on their side, or on their back on an incline, as these positions not only provide maximum comfort but also support the abdomen and ensure optimal blood flow to the uterus and placenta. Bend Total Body Chiropractic also notes that in a prenatal massage certain pressure points in the ankles and abdomen that could potentially trigger early labor are avoided. The techniques used during a prenatal massage are also different from a regular massage. Massage therapists will avoid deep tissue pressure in favor of minimal pressure, slowly kneading trouble areas. While the techniques may be different they’re still effective in relieving stress and providing relaxation.
Pregnancy can be stressful not only on your body but on your mind! Pregnant women carry a lot of worry and stress as they grow a new life, and a prenatal massage can help alleviate some of that stress. Complete Women’s Wellness notes that massage helps release hormones like serotonin and dopamine while also helping to reduce inflammation in the body. This not only makes your body feel better but your mind too. Swelling is also something that many pregnant women have to deal with and prenatal massage can help improve blood and fluid circulation in the body, which can bring down that swelling. A great prenatal massage can also help reduce joint and muscle pain that carrying around the extra weight of a baby and stress can cause. This not only makes your body feel better but can even help you sleep better.
According to What to Expect, the benefits of regular prenatal massage are numerous. Not only do prenatal massages feel amazing but they can help alleviate the following issues;
- joint pain
- neck and back pain
- leg cramping
- swelling in your hands and feet (as long as that swelling isn’t a result of preeclampsia)
- carpal tunnel pain
- headaches and sinus congestion
While prenatal massage can truly be an amazing part of a woman’s prenatal care, the American Pregnancy Association warns that pregnant women should consult with their doctor before beginning any prenatal massage therapy if they have recently experienced bleeding, pre-term contractions, or have any of the following conditions:
- high-risk pregnancy
- pregnancy-induced hypertension
- previous pre-term labor
- experiencing severe swelling, high blood pressure, or sudden, severe headaches
- recently gave birth
Pregnancy is hard on a woman’s body and as the pregnancy progresses so do the aches, pains, and stresses that come with it. Regular prenatal massage is a safe and effective method to help reduce pain, swelling, and tension while providing a relaxing experience for the mom-to-be. Make sure you discuss your pregnancy with your therapist so they can determine the safest and most effective mode of massage therapy for you and your stage of pregnancy.
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