Prenatal massage is a hands-on body massage that uses specific massage techniques to help relieve stress and tension of women throughout their pregnancies. The movements are tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies. Being pregnant changes your center of gravity, increases breast weight, increases fluid volume, adds pressure on the pelvic floor, hormonal shifts, and puts a lot of stress on your back, neck, abdomen muscles, and shoulders. During pregnancy your ligaments relax which means your pelvic joints are less stable. Your posture changes because of this, which pulls your pelvis forward. Your body can also experience muscle tightness and trigger points, sleep disturbances, mood changes, restless legs and tingling or numbness from neurological compression.
The most common side effects due to pregnancy, such as headaches can be relieved by focusing on the head, neck and shoulders and relaxing trigger points and muscle spasms. Carrying the extra weight from pregnancy can create muscle tension and can be relieved by boosting blood flow to the areas that need it most. This increases the flow of lymphatic fluid, which sweeps away toxins and metabolic waste and also provides more nutrient-rich oxygen. Other side effects, such as swelling, fatigue, leg cramps and backaches can all be relieved through various techniques of prenatal massage.
The best position for prenatal massage is to lay on your side with pillows or on a pregnancy mattress that sits on top of the table with hollowed areas and pillows to accommodate the belly and breasts so that you can lie face down. To enhance support, the massage therapist will use pillows and cushions for positioning, this will also help to decrease pressure and increase relaxation. It is important to communicate with the massage therapist throughout the massage and let them know which areas of your body need attention and let them know right away if anything is causing you discomfort. Lying on your back is not recommended past the first trimester as you could lower your blood pressure by compressing a blood vessel. A prenatal massage is customized to each pregnant woman differently and their needs. Their bodies are constantly changing and the massage therapist will adjust their techniques accordingly.
The benefits of prenatal massage include a range of physiological, emotional and psychological benefits such as the reduction of anxiety and stress, decreased symptoms of depression, relieved muscle aches and joint pains, improved labour outcomes and newborn health, hormone regulation, reduction of swelling, improvement of nerve pain, reduced back pain, reduced muscle tension and headaches, improved circulation, improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles and better sleep.
Some women should talk to there doctor before getting a prenatal massage as their can be complications and risks for women who have previously experienced bleeding, history or miscarriage, recently given birth, pre-term contractions, previous pre-term labour, high risk pregnancy, preeclampsia, pregnancy induced hypertension, or are experiencing high blood pressure, swelling, or headaches that are sudden or severe.