Ahh, ooh mothers-to-be say when enjoying a relaxing, soothing, and calming back massage. This can benefit an aching back—and they do ache—when carrying a baby. A deep tissue massage is not recommended when pregnant. Deep tissue methods put pressure on your body and can possibly cause labor contractions. The time to do massages is during the first trimester (3 months) and not after your 36 weeks along. Always check with your doctor.
If you are using a massager for a chair, sofa, or recliner, such as a massage cushion, sit relaxed and comfortably. You can also lay on your side on a firm surface. With the chair massager or handheld massager, have your partner or friend help you for your back with a handheld unit. With a chair type massager, you can probably manipulate it yourself. It’s best to use a massager (not a vibrator) two times for 15-20 minutes each day.
There are not many definitive studies for massage during pregnancy. However, one study shows that massage can lower anxiety, relieve leg and back pain, improve sleep, and reduce norepinephrine, a stress hormone similar to adrenaline that constricts bloods vessels increasing blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
When feeling depressed when pregnant, a massage will increase serotonin and dopamine the ‘feel good’ hormones while decreasing levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. It looks as though an easy massage will improve your mood and you will feel good all over while being pregnant. In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, improvements have been seen.
Other benefits for pregnant and non-pregnant women, to include men, are that pain relief is an added benefit and a massage can increase the body’s immune system response to ward off viruses and tumors.
When to Avoid Pregnancy Massage
Moderation is key and being conservative is best. Some doctors tell all pregnant women to pass up massage during this time. There are no guidelines and all doctors do not agree on massage therapy when pregnant. Be sure to let you doctor know if you are having vomiting, nausea, or morning sickness, if you are a risk for miscarriage, if you are at risk for placental abruption where the placenta separates from the uterus wall, a serious complication of pregnancy, or you are about to reach preterm labor. These can be serious conditions to think about, so discuss with your doctor before considering or doing massage therapy.
A certified professional massage therapist might want a written consent and liability waiver from your doctor before launching a massage when pregnant. It is best to find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage. Some massage therapists are trained to work with pregnant women, but it is still important to ask about qualifications.
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Swedish massage relaxes muscles, improves blood and lymphatic circulation by the use of mild pressure to select muscle groups. This method is suggested during pregnancy for the usual discomforts related to the skeleton and circulation changes due to hormone changes by being pregnant. Be regulating hormones linked to stress and relaxation, massage therapy has advantages for mood improvement and cardiovascular health. Fewer birth complications such as lower birth weight imply that there are indeed favorable benefits with therapeutic massage combined with consistent prenatal attention.
Nerve Pain Improvement
Sciatic nerve pain is very painful and some women later in their pregnancy when the uterus lies on the muscles of the bottom of the pelvis and at the lower back (coccyx/tailbone) experience this. It causes referred pain to the muscles of the lower and middle leg or both legs where they can swell putting more pressure on nerves. Massage therapy releases the muscle tension and nerve pain.
Swelling or edema in the joints occurs during pregnancy possibly by reduced circulation or increased blood pressure. Massage encourages soft tissues to avoid collecting fluids thus improving toxin elimination by the lymph system.
Overall Prenatal Health
With the supervision and care of your doctor, prenatal massage can do wonders for women for their emotional wellbeing and physical health. Consult with your prenatal doctor for you and your baby’s best healthiness.