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Is Prenatal Massage Really Necessary?

Aug 17, 2016

If you, or someone you’re close to, are expecting a child, you are all-too familiar with the dull aches and sharp pains in the feet and back, the swollen limbs, and fatigue that comes with pregnancy.  It sometimes seems that new pregnancy symptoms can develop just as rapidly as the baby growing inside.  Sure, with the added weight to your body, a nice foot rub at the end of the day would be lovely, but should you really seek out a prenatal massage from your massage therapist? 

Let the morning-sick, puffy-ankled expectant moms of the world shout out a resounding, “YES!” 

Massage happens to be an extremely valuable tool in your prenatal arsenal.  Need to be convinced?

  • The parasympathetic system, which helps to regulate food digestion, lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure, is stimulated by massage.  When in parasympathetic mode, even sleep quality is better.  Last we checked, every single one of these things are on a pregnant mom’s “yes, please” list.
     
  • As the body gradually gets used to what is essentially carrying a low-slung front pack 24 hours a day for months, the muscles strain, knot together, and compensate to support the growing baby.  Not to mention the havoc this wreaks on a previously-pretty posture.  A prenatal massage can soothe and unknot strained muscles, and keep the posture in alignment.
     
  • When pregnant women experience the swelling of their ankles, feet, or hands, it’s often caused by poor circulation due to a heavy uterus putting extra pressure on major blood vessels.  Massage prompts healthy circulation of the blood and increases circulation of the lymph system, which carries tissue waste out of the body.
     
  • Massage reduces cortisol and norepinephrine, hormones associated with stress, and increases serotonin and dopamine, dubbed the “feel good” hormones.  This is important for everyone, but becomes even more significant with pregnancy.  Studies have shown that a great amount of persistent stress in a pregnant woman can lead to an earlier delivery, lower birth weight, and even differences in the baby’s brain development. 
     
  • In yet another case of “life isn’t fair,” it happens that the immune system of a pregnant woman becomes compromised so the woman’s body doesn’t reject the growing fetus as something “foreign.”    Massage is a great, natural way to bolster the immune system.  It promotes the strength of the natural “killer cells” and decreases T-cells. 

A quick note about prenatal massage safety: Some massage therapists will prefer to wait to perform a massage until after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage lessens.  This is more of an issue of therapist liability than of massage safety.  Also, because there are some significant differences between standard massage and prenatal massage, do see a therapist who is familiar and experienced with prenatal massage.   As always, consult your regular physician before you schedule your massage and be sure to voice any questions or concerns to the staff at Elements.  We care about your wellness, your baby’s wellness, and always want your massage to be the most therapeutic as it can be, no matter your stage of life. 

 

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