Therapeutic massage in times of pregnancy has been in use for several centuries down the line. It helps you relieve the tension of your body muscles, reduce anxiety levels and stress, and enhance your overall wellbeing. Pregnancy massage with the correct techniques and supervision can bring about significant changes in your body.
If you want to ensure your unborn baby’s wellbeing as well as yours, get a regular massage from an expert. You may even try doing one at home, given that you know the DOs and DON’Ts. Do not worry about any negative outcomes out of prenatal massage therapy if the process is done right.
For an effective and safe massage, take the advice and supervision of an experienced masseuse. The purpose of massage is to provide you comfort during the tough and challenging times of pregnancy. It is an integral part of your prenatal care routine, and you should not hesitate to consider it.
Learn about the small details of the massage to understand the technique and outcome well. There is a slight variation in the concepts of the massage and a perineal massage.
Perineal massage is the technique that involves stretching of your tummy tissues, surrounding the area of the birth canal. You perform perineal massage manually to lessen the threats of trauma-related with giving birth. One of the most challenging parturition procedures is episiotomy, which helps in overcoming a tough delivery.
Episiotomy or perineotomy is a surgical procedure involving an incision in your perineum, which lies between anus and vagina. There can be risks of trauma after surgical procedures like episiotomy. A good perineal massage can ensure comfort in such cases.
What happens in pregnancy massage?
You generally undergo pregnancy massage both during pregnancy (prenatal) and after pregnancy (postnatal). Typically, a masseuse will perform the massage for a maximum of one hour.
Sometimes practitioners may use a table for the massage in order to accommodate your pregnant belly. Experts may use other types of tables called bolsters, which are of special designs to position your body more comfortably.
Usually bolsters comfort you in the advanced pregnancy stages. When you lie on your side, it gives you the maximum relaxation during pregnancy.
If you search about various techniques to perform to pregnancy massage, you will at least get 80 different results. There are more than 3000 pregnancy massage or prenatal therapy programs prevalent in the United States of America. Some of the most practiced pregnancy massage techniques are as follows-
- Shiatsu- involves specific tapping and putting pressure on acupressure points for stimulating ‘qi’ (natural energy of your body).
- Swedish massage- involves giving attention to your stiff muscles and increasing mobility of joints.
- Deep massage of tissues- in this technique, you usually give tough stroke plunging deep into your tough muscles.
Benefits of pregnancy massage
Doesn’t it feel amazing when you get a soft, caring human touch on your pregnant belly? Putting the right pressure on the right points can give rise to multiple sensations that can promote comfort. It can help in alleviating pregnancy-related body aches and discomfort.
Some of the amazing benefits of pregnancy massage include:
- Promotes relaxation and tranquility in times of soreness
- Reduces anxiety levels and stress
- Brings down stress on your joints bearing the extra body weight
- Eases and improves labor pain
- Reduces chances of skin diseases like edema
- Better oxygenation within muscles and soft tissues
- Gives relief from spasms, muscle cramps as well as myofascial pain in your legs, neck, hips and lower back
- Enhances your skin’s pliability and the tissues underlying your belly
- Increase blood flow and circulation of lymphatic fluids across your body that can eventually minimize pain
- Aids in improving your sleeping cycles
- Triggers the stimulation of some pain comforting hormones such as serotonin
For a mother-to-be, the massage can provide you both emotional and physical support to combat motherhood straining.
How does it affect hormone regulation?
Various hormones are responsible for providing you ease and reduction in stress levels during pregnancy. When you undergo prenatal massage therapy, it may alter the functioning and stimulation of multiple hormones associated with pregnancy. Such hormonal regulations may lead to mood swings and improvement in your cardiovascular functioning.
Hormones like cortisol and noradrenaline are mostly associated with emergencies or stress, stimulating the ‘fight or flight’ condition. You will notice a reduction in the levels of noradrenaline and cortisol when you get a massage for around 5 weeks.
Lower levels of serotonin and dopamine indicate a state of depression. Prenatal massages promote the secretion of serotonin and dopamine hormones, ensuring an emotional state of happiness and comfort.
When such hormonal alterations take place due to pregnancy massage, it often reduces the stress and complications during parturition. Not just you, but your baby is also relieved of afterbirth complications such as lower body weight.
Can pregnancy massage alleviate swelling and nerve pain?
Edema is a condition that indicated inflammation within your joints at times of pregnancy. Decreased blood circulation and high pressure on vital blood vessels are the major reasons behind swelling of body joints. The increased stress on blood vessels is mostly because of your heavy uterus carrying the baby.
Pregnancy massage substantially aid in alleviating joint inflammation by stimulating soft tissues to minimize fluid accumulation within joints. It can eventually help in removing tissue waste by the improved functioning of lymphatic system of your body.
It is natural to experience extreme pain in the sciatic areas of your body during later stages of pregnancy. You will often experience sciatic nerve pain on your lower back and pelvic muscles, where your uterus rests.
As pregnancy advances, the pressure of your uterus tends to build up and spread to your lower and upper legs. In this way, the joints in your legs swell up causing immense pain due to contact with nearby nerves.
Pregnancy massage can relieve the inflammation of joints by releasing the strain of your leg muscles. Many pregnant women admit to experiencing lesser sciatic nerve pain due to prenatal massage therapy.
Body posture during pregnancy massage
Do you know the exact way to position your body during a prenatal massage? Multiple pregnancy masseuses deem that you should place yourself sideways on the massage table for best results. Massage tables usually have a hole on one side where you put your head to rest. In a pregnancy massage table, there is a hole provided to place your uterus in position for a better experience.
However, there are certain things to keep in mind before lying sideways on the pregnancy massage table. The hole may not perfectly fit the circumference of your uterus, which may put added pressure on your abdomen. There can be possibilities where your abdomen may simply dangle from the table. It can thereby lead to utter discomfort in the stretch of your uterine ligaments.
Depending on your uterine outline and trimester of your pregnancy, it is better to take advice from your doctor. You may even approach your masseuse to suggest you the perfect way to align yourself on the massage table. Verify your position as many times you want. Taking consent from experts can assure you a comfortable risk-free experience.
Pointers to remember during pregnancy massage
Generally, you will see a pregnancy masseuse adapting to various new techniques to adapt to your body comforts. When you are pregnant, you undergo multiple changes in your mental and physical states. It is important for the massage expert to scrutinize such pregnancy-associated changes carefully for a better pregnancy massage.
For example, the volume of your blood significantly increases by almost 50 percent during your pregnancy. Often the pressure of blood circulation in your legs tend to be sluggish. There are anticoagulants present in your blood that normally help in preventing hemorrhages. It is evident that the volume of anticoagulants also go up in times of pregnancy and baby delivery. Do not get worried about the rise in anticoagulants in blood, since it is completely natural to happen.
The changes in the circulatory system happening inside your body may sometimes put you at certain threats. There can be blood clots in your lower legs, mostly in the regions of your inner thighs or calf muscles.
To be on the safer side, pregnancy massage or prenatal massage experts often avoid putting strong pressure on your legs. Deep massages can sometimes prove to be uncomfortable, depending upon body type and the pregnancy changes you are going through.
When you put excessive pressure on your legs during a pregnancy massage, it may lead to dislodging a blood clot. You should ask your masseuse to put soothing and limited pressure, like slow strokes to release your leg muscles smoothly. Remember to move all your lower body massage finally towards the heart for a healthy blood circulation.
How safe is it?
Sometimes you will find doctors discouraging the practice of undergoing pregnancy massage due to a number of factors. There can be variations in the training that pregnancy massage specialists receive, which can often be questionable for your body.
Often massage experts for pregnant women do not get proper authentic certification across the nation. Many states do not ask for legal papers of pregnancy massage training, like minimum qualification to become a massage therapist.
Moreover, it is not clinically researched or studied fact that pregnancy massage can be safe. There is a common controversy over the concept of getting a pregnancy massage during your first trimester. Some doctors consider the procedure safe, while some contradict it.
Many massage specialists will not agree to give you pregnancy massage at the time of your first trimester. The major reason behind such a mass disagreement is the risk of miscarriage.
There are experts who will habitually argue over the fact that pregnancy massage may have a chance towards a miscarriage. However, no researcher has been able to accomplish a possible bridge between pregnancy massage and miscarriage.
Generally, you will notice the phenomenon of a miscarriage happening during your first trimester. It is the sole reason behind such a debate between gynecologists and massage experts. Even now, it is a controversial issue on whether or not to promote pregnancy massage in the first trimester.
Doctors will often recommend you to go for pregnancy massage in the later trimesters. People avoid getting massages in the initial stages of pregnancy, to evade even minimal risks or liability issues of miscarriage.
When should you avoid it?
There is scant evidence on the value and biological wellbeing of pregnancy massage, as per various clinical studies. Therefore, doctors have a more traditional approach towards the much debatable pregnancy massage. Some gynecologists may strictly say a ‘NO’ to any sort of pregnancy massage, irrespective of whichever trimester it may be.
There is no way to prove the exact guidelines of a legit pregnancy massage scientifically. Always be assured from your doctor in written proof before going for a pregnancy massage. Do not put yourself or your unborn baby at risk at any cost.
Factors to keep in mind prior to pregnancy massage, if you are going through any of the following conditions-
- Higher chance of a miscarriage: Avoid a pregnancy massage strictly, if you have a history of miscarriage in your family.
- Experiencing symptoms like nausea and vomiting at a greater frequency.
- If you have a high risk of preterm labor or placental abruption, do not opt for the massage. It can doubly increase the risk of a miscarriage or uterine stress. Placental abruption is the condition your placenta detaches itself from the uterine wall.
If you have any of the above complications in your body, it is better to avoid pregnancy massage. Even if you want to go for it, your masseuse may need a written consent from your gynecologist to evade liability charges.