Prenatal massage can improve the overall health of pregnant women. Along with the recommendation of a prenatal care provider, massage therapy can be used as an emotional and physical health supplement for pregnant women, which has shown to improve the outcome of the pregnancy and maternal health.
How Does Prenatal Massage Improve Your Health and Pregnancy?
Research into prenatal massage therapy has shown that it can reduce anxiety and depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health.
Swedish massage is one of the recommended forms of prenatal massage as it relieves muscle tension, improves lymphatic and blood circulation, and decreases the discomfort of skeletal and circulatory changes in the body brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.
Studies have shown that massage therapy has significant effect on the hormone levels associated with stress and depression. Therefore, massage provides natural mood regulation and improves cardiovascular health. The regulation of these hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin and cortisol, also lead to women experiencing less complications during birth and fewer newborn complications.
Reduction of Swelling
Joints in the body tend to swell up during pregnancy due to the reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels caused by the heavy uterus. Massage therapy reduces the collection of fluids in swollen joints and improves the removal of tissue waste carried by the body’s lymph system, thus reducing swelling and discomfort.
Improvement of Nerve Pain
During late pregnancy, the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back causing sciatica, which is when tension on the muscles of the upper and lower leg, place pressure on nearby nerves and cause them to swell. Massage therapy can help release the tension on the muscles, which in turn, reduces the swelling and inflammation of the nerves, and relieves sciatic nerve pain.
Other benefits of prenatal massage include:
- Reduced back pain
- Reduced muscle tension
- Reduction in headaches
- Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
- Better sleep
Seek a Certified Prenatal Therapist
It is important to ask for a massage therapist’s qualifications to ensure they are certified in prenatal massage therapy. Certified prenatal therapists will have received training beyond the national standards for massage therapists and know how to address specific pregnancy and massage needs. It is also recommended to consult your doctor or midwife before receiving prenatal massage therapy.