The effects of pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time of huge physical, hormonal, emotional and mental upheaval as your body, and life, change to accommodate your growing of a brand new human (or humans!). This is a big deal! And it can be overwhelming and scary, even for the most excited mum-to-be.
Massage is a great way to take time out for yourself, to relax and reconnect. It’s also a great way to reduce stress levels – and all of this is true in pregnancy too.
Regular massage in a healthy pregnancy, can also help alleviate some of the common muscular discomforts that often accompany the rapid physical changes of pregnancy.
Pregnancy massage is a modified Swedish massage, performed with the client on her side, with pillows and covering to ensure comfort and warmth.
The benefits of pregnancy massage
Stimulates the circulation
Stimulation of the circulation will distribute essential nutrients and fluid to all the vital organs of the body. This is especially important for the placenta, which feeds and aids the development of the baby.
Lymphatic drainage will eliminate toxins from the cells and blood. It can also help reduce oedema, which can be a contributory factor in carpal tunnel and tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Sluggish bowel movement is aided
This helps to avoid constipation and haemorrhoids. Both of which are common in pregnancy.
Releases muscular tension
Muscular tension in the shoulders, upper back, lower back and hips is relieved. This helps to ease the discomfort of sciatica and SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction), often caused by postural and hormonal changes in pregnancy.
Aids breathing during pregnancy
Massaging the intercostal and pectoral muscles will help the respiratory system and aid breathing during pregnancy and birth. As the baby grows and room becomes tight, the lungs can become squished, and breathing can become more difficult. Techniques used during pregnancy massage can create a little more space, and relieve tension in the muscles used for breathing. This allows deeper, easier breathing.
Pregnancy massage induces deep relaxation and peaceful sleep. It is reported that women who sleep well in the last month of pregnancy have shorter labours. Being pregnant, especially heavily pregnant, can seriously impact on your ability to get comfortable, and to sleep. This not only affects your physical, but also mental wellbeing. It’s just common sense that a sleep deprived labouring women will tire more quickly than a well rested one (if the later even exists!).
Massage is known for its relaxation benefits, and massage in pregnancy is no different. So while I can’t promise that you’ll sleep for eight hours straight (let’s be honest this won’t happen – you’ll need a wee!), I can promise that if you fall asleep on the table during a massage, I’ll let you sleep for at least 10 minutes at the end.
Creates a sense of well being
The pregnancy massage helps to reduce emotional stress and anxiety, and creates a sense of well-being. Physical and emotional changes during pregnancy are real, and can be a source of anxiety and stress. Massage during pregnancy can help by allowing the client to positively connect with her changing body and her growing baby.
Release of oxytocin
All massage encourages the release of oxytocin, a pain reducing hormone. This is why massage can be of benefit to those with painful conditions, like fibromyalgia.
The oxytocin released during pregnancy massage can help with the aches and pains associated with growing a new human – or humans! Oxytocin is also the hormone that provides vital pain relief during labour and birth. So massage by your birthing partner during labour can be a helpful activity!
If you are, or know of, a pregnant lady, perhaps consider the gift of a pregnancy massage this festive season.
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Thank you for reading. If you’ve got a topic you’d like me to cover in a future blog, please get in touch.