Relaxation and stress reduction – Healthcare professionals agree on the positive results of relaxation during pregnancy – increased well-being for the mother and baby, and increased chances for a positive birth experience. Through emotional support and physical nurturing prenatal massage reduces stress and promotes relaxation, creating a balance in the body, decreasing fear and anxiety and enhancing the immune system.
Reduce pain and strains – As pregnancy progresses and the uterus grows, the pelvis tends to rotate forward, increasing the lower back curve and stretching the abdominal muscles. Postural adjustments and weight gain both strain the muscles, ligaments and joints, creating fatigue, tightness and pain. Massage therapy techniques are helpful in providing relief on weight-bearing joints – alleviating tightness and pain in areas such as the lower back, hips, pelvis and ankles. Sciatica in the buttocks or legs as well as calf cramps are also commonly associated with pregnancy. Massage techniques and gentle stretching will also help decrease the pain in these areas.
Improve blood circulation – During the pregnancy all blood components are elevated to provide for fetal needs; by weeks 24 to 34, the plasma volume alone has increased by 40%. Resulting discomfort such as swelling, varicose veins and high blood pressure are common. The greatest change women notice is swollen legs and ankles. Swedish and lymphatic massage support circulatory function, thus reducing swelling. Massage therapy helps provide regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and fetus, promotes the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and accelerates the removal of waste products, improving both mother’s and baby’s tissue health.
Prepare for labor – In order to give birth with less effort, the musculature of a woman’s back, abdomen and pelvic floor must remain relaxed to allow the uterus to labor without resistance. Massage therapy methods used to release pain are also effective to increase muscle and joint flexibility, particularly in the pelvis and legs, which is useful for childbirth. Receiving bodywork during pregnancy also contributes to self-awareness and relaxation that are necessary to actively participate in the birth process.
Improve respiratory and GI functions – Most expectant women tend to feel short of breath and hyperventilate, a result of the growing uterus restricting the diaphragm area. Common gastrointestinal system discomforts include indigestion, heartburn, nausea and vomiting. Swedish massage, acupressure and reiki can help alleviate those symptoms.
In summary, benefits of prenatal massage includes:
- emotional support and nurturing touch
- relaxation and self-awareness
- pain relief on weight-bearing joints, pelvis and lower back
- back, hip and neck pain relief
- preparation of the muscles and joints used during childbirth
- reduced swelling in hands and feet
- lessened sciatic pain
- fewer calf cramps
- headache and sinus congestion relief
Through their moms, babies will benefit from an improved blood circulation, healthy tissue, flexible joints and muscles during the pregnancy and labor. With hands-on healing energy techniques, it is also possible to establish a deep connection with the baby in utero, providing him/her with a feeling of love and nourishment.
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