Studies indicate that prenatal massage and/or reflexology performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labour outcomes and new-born health.
Regular treatment can help to stabilise hormonal balance in the body leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health, when introduced to women’s prenatal care.
In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (“stress hormones”) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression). These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of new-born complications, such as low birth weight.
Reduction of swelling
Oedema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Reflexology helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.
Improvement of nerve pain
Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy and reflexology addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles and nerve path ways. Many women have experienced significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through regular treatment.
Other potential benefits of prenatal massage and reflexology: