Having a child often comes with many great changes, be they physical, mental or spiritual — or all three. One great way to help with any developments that might be uncomfortable or even painful during the nine months of pregnancy is to have a prenatal massage. Even if you don't have any pain, massage can help you feel your best during pregnancy due to its general benefits but also some specific reasons that it helps expectant mothers.
How massage helps mothers-to-be
There are a variety of ways in which massage works to improve the health and wellbeing of pregnant women. According to the American Pregnancy Massage Association:
Massage prepares your body for delivery by helping increase elasticity and range of motion in the joints and muscles associated with childbirth. And by helping blood flow in the legs, massage can reduce the chances of edema, varicose veins and blood clots.
In other words, massage helps prepare your body for the rigors of childbirth.
Studies have also shown that pregnant women who received massage therapy experienced less depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain, some symptoms that are common to experience in the lead up to childbirth. Research has also shown massage to reduce cortisol levels, which in turn lowered the amount of excessive fetal activity.
Some research also found a reduced incidence of premature birth or low birth weight, other positive indicators. Benefits have also been found for women who receive massage during labor.
Other benefits of prenatal massage
Besides preparing your body for delivery, prenatal massage offers myriad other perks for women who are pregnant. For example, massage therapy generally:
- Helps with sleep
- Elevates mood and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression
- Reduces joint swelling
- Improves circulation
- Relieves nerve pain
Getting massages for wellness throughout the nine months of your pregnancy can help you feel great in the lead up to birth. Discuss with your provider any specific concerns you have, as well as letting them know your stage of pregnancy during each session. The therapist may use different techniques or massage modalities that are safe for mothers-to-be.
See a qualified professional
In order to ensure a safe and comfortable treatment experience while pregnant, make sure to visit a therapist who has certification in pregnancy or prenatal massage. Any qualified therapist should be happy to share proof of their certification in this area.
Why is it important to visit a therapist with specific education in prenatal massage? Practitioners who have the proper training will understand the anatomy of an expectant mother and how it changes throughout the duration of the pregnancy. The therapist may position an expectant mother differently at various stages of pregnancy, for example using pillows to prop her up, for comfort and safety.