- Karen Stoner, LMT
4 Reasons to get a prenatal massage
1. The skeleton and muscles change and changes can hurt
Short Answer: Pregnancy doesn't just cause the belly to grow, all the muscles in the body stretch and deal with new weight and positions plus bones move and pull, so massage can help ease those pains.
More details: Most people think first and primarily about the belly growing during pregnancy, which then causes the back to hurt. In actuality, the entire skeleton can change shape during pregnancy. The abdomen and low back changes, the rib cage expands and moves, and the upper back and neck curves and can pinch. These skeleton changes also cause pulling on all the muscles and joints in those areas, and all that growing, stretching, and pulling can get painful. Massage can help relax the overstrained muscles, and make the natural body shifts less painful.
2. It can keep swelling in the feet and legs under control
Short answer: Pregnancy means an increase in blood volume which can contribute to swollen feet and legs. Massage can help increase circulation that may reduce swelling.
More details: Since mom's body is basically supporting two people simultaneously, her blood volume pretty much doubles to keep all the nutrients and everything circulating. Unfortunately with gravity and the fact that humans stand upright, means that all that extra fluid gets pulled down to the feet and legs. The added weight of the baby also puts pressure and strain on the lower part of the body. Massage, especially Lymphatic Drainage-style massage, can help redistribute those fluids to keep the legs from feeling so heavy and swollen.
3. Stress can make the pregnancy harder
Short answer: The No. 1 enemy of a healthy pregnancy is stress. Stress can raise blood pressure and increase production of cortisol and adrenaline which can raise glucose levels. Massage decreases stress hormones and can lower blood pressure, keeping stress in check.
More details: We all know that stress can cause all sorts of health issues. During pregnancy, the body is already dealing with a lot, adding the normal effects of stress onto it, doesn't help and can be even worse. Stress can contribute to a lot of issues such as high blood pressure, high glucose levels (leading to gestational diabetes), and may contribute to preeclampsia or even preterm labor and low birth weight. Stress hormones can cross the placenta, so if mom gets stressed, baby can also get stressed. Massage has many studies that show how it can decrease the stress hormones, plus it helps mom tune out and relax, calming her nerves and anxiety, allowing her body to fight the stress better itself.
4. May help better sleep
Short answer: Changes in body shape can make getting comfortable difficult, hormones can disrupt sound sleep, and general pregnancy anxiety can make falling asleep
almost impossible. Massage can relax body and mind, helping sleep be deeper and more effective.
More details: There is no way to sugar coat it - pregnancy hurts. The body changes, the hormone-influenced 'not feeling right', plus the mental concerns of being pregnant, delivery, and impending motherhood is enough to make even the most sound sleepers into insomniacs. Massage can help with all of these points. Massage relaxes the muscles and makes the body more comfortable. It can help balance and stimulate the good hormones that counteract stress and help the body restore and re-find it's natural sleep hormones. Plus, massage can help mom have some quiet, relaxing time to herself which will ultimately help her to relax at bedtime.