Back pain, swollen feet, muscle cramps, heartburn, and fatigue. Creating a new life may be a perfectly natural process, but it sure isn’t a very comfortable one. Thankfully, there are a number of steps that any mom-to-be can take to ease discomfort during pregnancy. Eating a healthy diet, staying active (through activities like walking and yoga), and prenatal massage can all make a huge difference in your pregnancy.
For the expectant mother, prenatal massage offers emotional, psychological, and physiological benefits. Even if you’ve had a massage before, prenatal massage will be a totally different experience because it will focus on the rapidly evolving needs of your pregnant body as it goes through the rapid and dramatic changes that accompany pregnancy. A qualified prenatal massage therapist will have special training that allows him or her to adapt the technique to benefit the needs of the expectant mother during every semester of her pregnancy.
How can prenatal massage make a difference in your pregnancy? For starters, it can provide better function in your muscles and joints, improve circulation and blood flow, and relieve physical and mental fatigue. Since it’s a non-invasive and gentle form of therapeutic bodywork, it is a safe way to ease pain and discomfort, as well as provide emotional support, during labor and delivery.
How Prenatal Massage Can Make a Difference in Your Pregnancy
Certain pregnancy complications, like incontinence, prolapse, and scar tissue, can be prevented by keeping your ligaments and uterus healthy. Prenatal massage is a tremendous help in these areas, and it can provide significant benefits for your growing baby, too. In fact, everything you do while you are pregnant, especially exercise and diet, has an effect on your baby. Studies also show that even your emotional state throughout your pregnancy can affect your baby’s development.
The Journal of Perinatal Education published a study that showed that women who received regular prenatal massage during pregnancy had easier and shorter labors and deliveries. They also needed fewer epidurals and pain medications. The study also showed that the need for cesarean births was cut in half with prenatal massage.
Some of the amazing benefits of prenatal massage include:
- It can relieve stress on your joints and muscles.
- It can ease common pregnancy discomforts, like joint and hip pain, headaches, muscle spasms, leg cramps, back pain, and sciatica.
- It can relieve digestive discomforts like heartburn, and reduce edema, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, and even fatigue.
- It improves the flow of blood throughout the body, which means better oxygenation and nutrition for mom and growing baby.
- It provides relief for hormonally induced anxiety and depression.
- It induces relaxation and reduces stress levels so that you can sleep better.
- It can help regulate your blood pressure and improve circulation of blood to your heart as your pregnancy progresses.
- It may reduce stretch marks by making the skin and underlying tissues more pliable.
How Prenatal Massage Makes a Difference During the First Trimester
Doctors used to discourage prenatal massage during the first trimester because many believed it could increase the risk of a miscarriage. However, modern studies show that prenatal massage can be tremendously beneficial during the first trimester, as long as it’s performed by a qualified practitioner. Having a healthy first trimester is crucial for creating a solid foundation for the rest of the pregnancy.
A leading provider of pregnancy massages in New York says that prenatal massage during the first trimester can address pre-existing issues like back, neck, or shoulder pain. Providing relief for these problems early on will help your body adjust to the rapid changes that will take place as your baby grows. Stress and anxiety are also a common issue during the first trimester, and prenatal massage can reduce those issues, leaving you in a more relaxed state of mind.
During the first trimester, your body will be flooded with powerful hormones. These hormones bring a whole host of symptoms, including the dreaded morning sickness, constipation, and headaches. Massage can provide significant relief of these symptoms, making the first stage of pregnancy much more pleasant.
How Prenatal Massage Makes a Difference During the Second Trimester
Your pregnancy is settled by the time you get to your second trimester. The early symptoms are beginning to subside, and your belly is starting to grow. Back pain becomes a problem as your center of gravity changes. Prenatal massage can help to improve your posture and alignment while easing tense muscles.
Your rapidly growing uterus will benefit from extra support at this time. There are 13 ligaments that support the uterus while it makes its rapid size increase from 4 ounces all the way up to about 13 pounds. Prenatal massage will help to tone those ligaments, which is super important for preventing and reducing back labor, preterm labor, and pelvic and back pain.
How Prenatal Massage Makes a Difference During the Third Trimester
The body is preparing for labor and delivery during the third trimester. As you continue to gain weight and your hormones fluctuate, more strain is put on your ligaments. Your growing uterus will put additional pressure on your legs, leading to swelling and edema, which can be reduced by massage. Digestive issues are also common because of the growing uterus and the symptoms can be combated by massage.
As the clock continues to count down, massage can relax your muscles to make labor, delivery, and recovery more comfortable. You may notice that swollen feet and heartburn are a daily issue. You may also be experiencing a bit of anxiety about your labor and delivery. Massage can help keep our stress levels low, and your massage therapist will know how to use pillows and a special table to keep you comfortable during your session.
After Your Baby is Born
The benefits of massage don’t end when your baby is born. Your body goes through tremendous stress and strain during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Much like prenatal massage helps during pregnancy, postnatal massage can be helpful for getting your body back to normal after your baby is born. Postnatal massage can help to get your bladder and digestive system functioning correctly and get your pelvic floor back in shape. It can also help you cope with the depression and stress that sometimes occur due to the hormonal changes that occur after delivery.
It’s clear that prenatal massage can make a huge difference in your pregnancy at all stages. Just make sure you see a qualified prenatal massage therapist and check with your doctor before you make an appointment. This save, gentle therapy could help you have a more comfortable, relaxed pregnancy and birth.
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