Pregnancy massage has been valued as an effective therapy in nearly all cultures around the world for thousands of years. Dating back to India as part of their Ayurvedic culture just over 3000 years ago as well as documentation found in the early Greek and Minoan civilizations dating back 5000 years ago, all state the benefits of regular pregnancy massage for mom and baby.
Pregnancy massage is a fast-growing must-have! A recent survey conducted revealed that 8 out of 10 pregnant women would love to receive regular pregnancy massages. More and more health care providers are recognizing the benefits their patients receive during pre-natal massages. Some hospitals now offer massage in their pre-natal units worldwide.
THE HORMONAL ROLLERCOASTER
The nine months of pregnancy can be a rollercoaster of emotions for mom-to-be, from exhilaration to anxiety, stress, and happiness, you name it, you will experience it. Not only are your emotions highly charged, but physically your body will undergo massive changes to sustain and help develop your little bundle of Joy!
The biggest cause hereof, are your massive hormonal changes. Although these hormones are essential for a healthy pregnancy, they can leave you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. The escalation in progesterone and estrogen can cause you to experience extreme mood changes. The hormones can also cause pregnancy depression or anxiety, this should always be monitored by your physician.
MAKING SPACE FOR BABA
Numerous anatomical and physiological changes occur during pregnancy that strain the muscles and skeleton, particularly the pelvis, which in turn may lead to discomfort and pain in the lower back, leg cramps and hip pain.
The pelvis goes through a tilting process, whereby room is made for your growing baby and your uterus. As the pelvis tilts the spine also arches inward. This causes a change in the center of gravity and in the later pregnancy stages causes the pregnancy waddle, your body is trying to accommodate skeletal changes. This change in center of gravity now also places a lot of strain on the muscles – particularly the lower back region. Some expectant moms experience sciatic pain which is a sharp shooting pain from either lower back or buttocks down to your lower legs, this is aggravated by muscle strain that irritate the sciatic nerve.
Progesterone is one of the hormones that loosens all the smooth muscles & ligaments in the body allowing for the big 9 months stretch. This is an important effect needed for the growth of the baby, but the negative side is that, this is one of the major causes for your muscular discomfort.
MASSAGES BRING YOU JOY ..LITERALLY!
Let us take an in-depth look at the numerous benefits regular pregnancy massage can offer you whether at home or at your nearest spa.
Massage is known to stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s built-in pain relief and mood enhancing neurotransmitters, you undoubtedly are familiar with the sensation the release of these hormones bring; they are behind the rush you get after a good exercise session or a good laughing fit to name a few.
In terms of enhancing mood and aiding anxiety and depression, Dr Tiffany Field pioneered the way for pregnancy massage studies. She is a director of the Touch Medical Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami, School of Medicine. She is a renowned expert in the field of pregnancy massage based on data collected from many pregnant women. She carefully divided the women into two test groups. One group had regular pregnancy massage therapy sessions prior to birth and the other not. She had carefully questioned the woman during the stages of their pregnancy to analyze their mental state.
She concluded that woman who went for regular pregnancy massage had decreased depression, anxiety, leg & back pain. She also concluded that their Cortisol levels were decreased. Cortisol is what we refer to as the stress hormone that is released in your body and aggravates things like depression and anxiety. Not only does Pregnancy Massage elevate endorphins, but it also increases the release of serotonin, which aids in better sleep as well as increased release of dopamine which is another “feel good” hormone.
The pregnancy hormone Relaxin lives up to its name. Many pregnant women experience hip pains in their second or third trimester, which is usually caused by the loosening of the ligaments holding together the sacroiliac joints, which connect your spine to your pelvis. While this joint-and-ligament relaxation helps with the birthing process, it can cause pain in your hips, lower back, and legs as the weight of your uterus bears down on your newly mobile bones and joints. It can result in inflammation, misalignment or bones grinding against bones.
By using specialized pregnancy massage techniques, we can drastically reduce a pregnant mom’s discomfort in the hip area.
As your beautiful bump grows, the lower spine will curve inward to support your baby’s weight and the top of your spine will curve slightly outward to support the growth of your breasts. This change in posture causes the muscles along your spine and particularly on the lower back to take strain. This strain induces lactic acid release which causes the muscles in your back to become rigid and stiff and is accompanied by pain. Massaging this area with specialized and pregnancy safe massage techniques will help to stretch and smooth the rigid muscles as well as improve lymphatics and circulation in order to help release the toxic build up, allowing for fresh oxygenated blood to fill the area and heal. Not to mention how amazing and pain free you feel after a good massage!
LESS DISCOMFORT FOR EXPECTING MOTHERS
A pregnant woman’s circulatory system takes a big toll. Your body produces 50% more blood volume, so your circulatory system is working twice as hard to circulate blood through it. Massage activates the nervous system, which in turn causes the blood to circulate more freely, enhanced circulation improves oxygen in the blood, heart and arteries and allows her blood to flow more freely, preventing and minimizing the risk of swelling. For your baby, massage during pregnancy increases systemic blood circulation, so oxygen and nutrients can reach the fetal cells, providing greater nourishment and a better health index for the growing baby. By stimulating and draining lymph, you will also experience an improvement in the feeling of fatigue and tiredness.
Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by the additional blood volume. Normal swelling, which is also called Oedema, is experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet. This extra retention of fluid is needed to soften the body, which enables it to expand as the baby develops. Swelling may be experienced at any point during pregnancy, but it tends to be noticed around the fifth month and can increase drastically in the third trimester.
Factors that can increase Oedema are summertime heat, standing for long periods of time, long days of activity, diet low in potassium, high level of caffeine consumption and high level of sodium intake. To relieve Oedema, you must get fluid moving through and out the body, gentle pregnancy massage drainage techniques is ideal for this. A study published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice found that pregnant women, who were given 20min foot massages daily had significantly less Oedema than those who did not.
Headaches may occur at any time of your pregnancy, but they tend to be most common during the 1st and 3rd trimesters. During the 1st trimester, your pregnant body experiences a surge of hormones and an immediate increase in blood volume, these two changes can cause more frequent headaches. Headaches may be further aggravated by stress, poor posture, or changes in your vision. Headaches during the 3rd trimester tend to be more related to poor posture and tension from carrying the extra weight. Regular pregnancy massage can help alleviate tension and stress in your back muscles which could offer instant relief after a pregnancy massage session.
We now know that stress plays a major factor in the risk of preterm labor, we have also established that regular pregnancy massage can reduce our stress hormones and elevate our happy ones. As per the study done by Dr Tiffany Field, the findings in her study groups was that the women who had regular pregnancy massages reduced the risk of preterm labor drastically as well as experiencing significantly less labor pain and the study revealed that their labors were 3hrs shorter on average.
With all these benefits, we believe that a pregnant woman should have massage at the top of her nine-months-bucket list! You can either request your trained therapist to book for @ Home Massages or why not get your partner to skill up and get their hands massaging!