Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, reduce swelling, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labour outcomes and new-born health.
The treatment aims to relax muscle tension and improve lymphatic and blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscle groups of the body. Many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy can be accordingly addressed and treated.
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.
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.
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 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.
As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy wellness, you should discuss massage with your prenatal care provider. If you suffer with any of the following conditions you should speak with your doctor prior to receiving a massage:
You can begin with pregnancy massage or reflexology treatments at any point in your pregnancy. However it is advisable to wait till after the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. Best results with reflexology you will encounter with regular treatments from one a week to once every two weeks till right up to and beyond your due date.
Reflexology and massage can be combined with acupuncture treatments too for an even more beneficial outcome. I don’t perform acupuncture myself, but know excellent therapists to recommend.
Prenatal massage and reflexology treatments are deductible from your health insurance, where you can claim up to 50% and up to 12 treatments back, depending on your health insurance plan.
There’s nothing quite as exciting as walking around, not yet looking pregnant but knowing thatyou’ve got a little person growing inside of you.
“When I was pregnant with my first child, I could be standing in line at the grocery store, grabbing a smoothie, or talking with the UPS delivery person, and a wave of happiness would wash over me and make me smile.”
Says Vicki Stern-Brown, a mother of two from Atlanta.
“No one else knew why I was smiling, but it was an exciting, happy, giddy kind of secret that’s really like nothing else.”
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