Massage therapy is one of the oldest health care practices known. It has a rich history among pregnant and laboring women. You may be aware of the benefits of regular massage, but do you know how wonderful it is during pregnancy? Let’s explore the top ten benefits of receiving prenatal massage.
#1 Relieves Back Pain
The number one reason pregnant women choose massage is to gain relief from constant back pain. This is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. It can range from upper, middle, and lower back. Women can suffer from very early on in pregnancy, all the way to delivery and beyond.
In early pregnancy, back pain stems from shifting hormones. Later on it is caused by muscles straining to keep up with extra weight gain and a changing body structure. Massage can soothe away these symptoms and give relief to achey back muscles.
#2 Reduces Stress
No matter how excited a new mother-to-be is about her bun in the oven, pregnancy can still be a very stressful time. It’s a lot to deal with shifting hormones and an ever-changing body image. This, along with everyday worries, like finances or job security, can cause major energy depletion. Being able to zen out in the massage room a couple of times a month brings stress levels down and builds energy back up.
Combating stress may also be as important for mama as it is for baby. Studies show that women with higher stress levels are more likely to birth their babies prematurely or to have babies that are underweight.
#3 Increases Relaxation
Receiving regular massage relaxes the central nervous system and regulates hormones. It decreases the stress hormone known as cortisol, and it increases both serotonin and dopamine. This helps us to manage pain and feel pleasure. Together these hormone shifts provide an overall sense of well-being and relaxation. This is exactly what every pregnant woman craves, from the first trimester to the last.
#4 Increases Circulation
Having good circulation is critical during pregnancy, as the blood volume increases dramatically during these 9 months. Massage techniques physically move blood through the body and prevent it from pooling. If blood is allowed to pool it can cause blood clots.
The risk of clots is 5 times higher during pregnancy and early postpartum. The best way to decrease the risk and reap the circulation benefits of massage is to receive it on a bi-weekly schedule. This keeps blood moving regularly.
#5 Decreases Swelling
In conjunction with the last benefit, massage helps to dramatically decrease swelling. Swelling is caused by pooling blood and body fluids, and is extremely common in later pregnancy. Most often it can be seen in the ankles and feet in the third trimester.
Women who receive regular massage during pregnancy have less chance of suffering from swelling. Even light pressure massage helps redistribute bodily fluids and keeps them from pooling in the lower legs.
#6 Relieves Headaches
Lots of mothers-to-be suffer from headaches and migraines. They can be hormone related or develop from muscle tension in the head, neck, and shoulders. As the abdomen and chest grow on the front of the body throughout pregnancy, shoulders tend to round in. This new body posture adds stress to the surrounding muscles.
Regardless of the source of the pain, massage has been known to reduce the occurrence of headaches, providing some relief in this area.
#7 Improves Sleep
Many women struggle with getting adequate sleep during pregnancy. Early on rushing hormones can cause insomnia. While later, women struggle to sleep because of discomfort with their growing abdomen, leg cramps, back pain, and much more.
As mentioned above, massage helps the body to increase serotonin levels. The increase in serotonin leads to better sleep. Improved relaxation and decreased pain also contribute to a better ability to sleep at night.
#8 Reduces Depression
Most people know of postpartum depression, but not everyone knows that it often begins during pregnancy. All the changes in the body lead to hormone imbalances and excess stress.
As already learned, massage can help regulate these imbalances, which reduces the chance of depression. This reduction benefits mothers in pregnancy as well as postpartum.
#9 Increases Bonding with Baby
Never underestimate the power of nurturing touch! Regular massage balances hormones and decreases depression, leading to a happier, more well-balanced mama who can form better bonds with her baby.
Mothers who receive this self care during pregnancy are more likely to give nurturing touch to their babies. This in turn gives babies all the benefits of massage and brings them closer to their massaging mamas.
#10 Makes for an Easier Delivery
Studies show that pregnant women who receive regular massage report reduced pain during labor and overall shorter deliveries. Their babies tend to be healthier and are less likely to be born premature or underweight.