While many view pregnancy as a magical experience, few will deny that it can also be an uncomfortable one for mothers-to-be. When utilized correctly, prenatal massage techniques offer a safe, drug-free way to ease the aches and pains that childbearing tends to bring. Plus, they can provide welcome emotional support for expectant mothers.
A Healing Touch
Exploring Prenatal Massage Techniques
When something hurts, the urge to gently soothe it by stroking or rubbing is instinctive. People intuitively understand that touch is both healing and comforting, so it should come as no surprise that health care professionals who have studied anatomy, physiology, and the effects of touch can utilize specialized massage techniques to support wellness and health.
The Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Massage therapy has long been recognized for its ability to promote relaxation, encourage healing by improving circulation, and reduce pain by spurring the body to release endorphins and other natural painkillers. While massage clearly has the potential to make life more comfortable for people of all ages and genders, it can be especially appealing for pregnant women. In the hands of a trained massage therapist, the application of prenatal massage techniques can provide benefits like the following:
- Lowered Stress Levels: Pregnancy is exciting, but like any major life change, it can also be stressful. Massage is known to encourage relaxation, reduce anxiety, and ease stress.
- Improved Hormone Regulation: Mothers-to-be who enjoy regular massages often have lower levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in their bloodstreams. In addition, they tend to have higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that play a major role in maintaining mood balance and help to regulate various bodily functions.
- Reduced Swelling and Edema: Swollen ankles and fingers are a common complaint among pregnant women. Massage can stimulate soft tissues to prevent the uncomfortable accumulation of fluid and support the function of the lymphatic system.
- Decreased Discomfort: Aching backs, throbbing heads, and agitated nerves are frequently cited sources of discomfort for pregnant women. By releasing muscle tension, reducing swelling, and encouraging the body to release natural painkilling chemicals like endorphins, massage can be an effective, drug-free way to quiet aches.
- Better Sleep: While tales of newborns keeping their parents up at night are often told, many women experience disrupted sleep even before their children are born. By reducing stress and discomfort, massage can promote better quality sleep for mothers-to-be.
- Better Outcomes for the Baby: Improved maternal wellness often translates into healthier babies. There’s reason to believe that prenatal massage can contribute to fewer complications during labor and reduce the risk of preterm labor and low birth weights.
Massage During Pregnancy
For prenatal massage therapy that is safe and effective, your best bet is to seek out a trained professional with experience in providing massage therapy to pregnant mothers. After all, while massage during pregnancy can be safe and incredibly advantageous, it does require some special considerations. Positioning is a perfect example. Since resting on your stomach is often uncomfortable during even the early stages of pregnancy, prenatal massage is often provided while the mother-to-be rests on her side. There are also certain pressure points that may trigger uterine contractions. A trained health care professional knows how to avoid stimulating these areas while providing welcome relief from the aches and pains of pregnancy.
What about specific prenatal massage techniques? While an experienced massage professional may include techniques from various forms of massage to deliver a truly customized treatment, Swedish massage is often used as the basis for prenatal massage because it addresses many of the concerns that routinely arise during pregnancy. Swedish massage uses long, gliding strokes, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, and targeted bending and stretching to improve oxygenation, ease tension, and promote detoxification.
Pregnancy Chiropractic Care
Massage isn’t the only type of hands-on therapy that can benefit mothers-to-be. Chiropractic care can be another fantastic resource for pregnant women. As the body changes in preparation for birth, misalignments in the spine and pelvis can cause plenty of discomfort. All of the ligaments that support the uterus connect to the pelvis. Taking steps to correct misalignments in the pelvic region reduces the chance of unnecessary uterine tension impacting the unborn child, decreases the mother’s pain, ensures the proper movement of her pelvis, and helps to prep her body for labor. Perhaps that’s why women who receive pregnancy chiropractic care report shorter, easier labors and experience fewer breech births.
Touch can be both simple and powerful. If you are interested in harnessing the healing power of touch to support your wellness during pregnancy, reach out to Loehr Chiropractic & Acupuncture. We’re fully committed to delivering top-notch patient care. That’s why we provide a variety of natural health options for pregnant women, including prenatal massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and nutritional services. Contact us today to explore the possibilities and request an appointment.