Benefits of Massage in Pregnancy

Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. Prenatal massage therapy can be very instrumental in women’s prenatal care, and a care routine can be initiated at any point in the pregnancy. The benefits of massage can improve overall prenatal health for many pregnant women. It can be incorporated as an emotional and physical health supplement proven to improve pregnancy outcome and maternal health. Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains and improve labor outcomes and newborn health.

Hormone regulation

Hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health when prenatal massage was introduced. Bi-weekly massage for 5 weeks demonstrated reduction in norepinephrine and cortisol (stress hormones) levels and an increase in dopamine and serotonin (low levels of which are associated with depression). These changes lead to fewer complications during and post pregnancy.

Reduction of swelling

Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues and reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, improve removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system reducing edema or the swelling of joints that naturally occurs during pregnancy and is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on major blood vessels by the weight of the uterus.

Nerve pain improvement

Late in pregnancy, many women experience sciatic nerve pain as the weight of the uterus rests on the muscles of the pelvic floor and low back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Therapeutic massage addresses the inflamed nerves by releasing the tension on nearby muscles, and thereby reducing sciatic nerve pain.

Other benefits of prenatal massage:

Reduced back pain, Reduced joint pain, Improved circulation, Reduced edema, Reduced muscle tension, Reduced headaches, Reduced stress, Reduced anxiety, Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles, Better sleep

Women with the following conditions should speak with a health care provider prior to receiving massage:

High Risk Pregnancy, Pregnancy induced hypertension, Preeclampsia, Previous pre-term labor, Experiencing severe swelling, high blood pressure, or sudden, severe headaches, Recently gave birth.

Anyone experiencing pre-term contractions or consistent Braxton-Hicks contractions should alert her therapist to that fact so that specific pressure points can be avoided.Image

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