Any woman who has had children will tell you that being pregnant is no picnic, even when you do get to eat for two. There are many things, however, that pregnant women can do in order to reduce the overall stress of being pregnant, as well as give themselves and their unborn child some added health benefits. One of those things is a prenatal massage with a qualified therapist.
But what about this type of massage would appeal to a pregnant woman? Are there tangible benefits? Read on to learn more.
Benefit 1: It Can Help Reduce Swelling
Pregnant women who struggle to fit into their shoes because of swollen ankles know all about the difficulties of swelling during pregnancy, known medically as “Edema.” Many pregnant women experience this across multiple joints as circulation reduces and pressure on the main blood vessels by the uterus increases. Prenatal massage can stimulate soft tissue and reduce the fluid buildup in one’s swollen joints.
Benefit 2: Reduces Stress
The overall relaxing effect of a prenatal massage can be a great stress reliever, offering muscle relaxation and a temporary escape from the daily humdrum of being pregnant. Being pregnant is, for many, also a time of great anxiety, which further adds to the stress and other negative feelings. Once more, a relaxing massage is a great way to unwind from that and regain some perspective.
Benefit 3: It Helps to Manage Hormones
It’s an often-discussed topic as to how pregnant women can become “hormonal” and experience mood swings and heightened emotions, including negative emotions we mentioned above like stress and anxiety. Prenatal massage can help reduce levels of the particular hormones that create these impacts, namely norepinephrine and cortisol. At the same time, it increases the more positive hormones like dopamine and serotonin.
Benefit 4: It Can Offer Pain Relief
There are all sorts of aches and pains that are associated with pregnancy, but especially sciatic nerve pain in the back and joints. The pains are mostly caused in the later stages of pregnancy as the uterus comes to rest on the pelvic floor muscles and lower back. That creates a great deal of pressure, which can be very hard to cope with, but prenatal massage is a great way to help reduce these pains, improve circulation and remove the added side-effects of the pains like headaches and muscle tension.
Benefit 5: Reduces Depression Symptoms
We mentioned above that one of the positive hormonal effects of prenatal massage was the stimulation of dopamine and serotonin creation. Besides helping to manage negative hormone levels, therefore, prenatal massage can also positively contribute to a reduction in depression. A lack of both dopamine and serotonin create a situation in which depression can take hold. These are all things that make pregnancy an even harder burden to carry for any woman.
Benefit 6: Better Outcomes During Labour
When the big day finally comes, the most unfortunate and worrisome aspect for those involved in the potential amount of pain and discomfort that will be involved in delivery. This is another area in which prenatal massage has been shown to help. In particular, massage can help to relieve birthing pains even purely as a distraction from what’s going on in the delivery room. The effects of massage here can also be augmented with heat packs, which stimulate creation of endorphins, which are nature’s painkillers.
It would be wrong to say that massage is going to make childbirth a pleasant experience, but many would agree that mitigation of at least some of the pain is still a very important helping factor in making it more bearable. It’s also a safe and accessible form of relief for many.