Knowledge of physical and emotional changes that occur with pregnancy and advanced training in the anatomy of the pregnant woman is very important. The differences you will experience with a 'regular' massage and a prenatal or postnatal massage will vary with the training of your therapist and so it is very important to find a qualified therapist certified in pre and postnatal massage.
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage include:
Tranquil relaxation and stress reduction (reduce cortisol levels to you and your baby).
Relief from muscle cramps, spasms, and myofascial pain, especially in the lower back, hips, and legs.
Increase blood and lymph circulation, which can reduce swelling.
Reduces stress on weight-bearing joints.
Improves outcome of labor and eases labor pain.
Provides support for the new mother with physical and emotional strains of mothering.
Positioning during a pregnancy massage is critical to the safety and well being of both the mother and the baby she is carrying. "The massage table will be set up so you will lie in a semi-reclining or side-lying position. This is really comfortable and safe for you and your baby. "After researching different positioning for pregnancy massage, I have chosen not to use the tables with the hole cut out for your belly, I feel that these may cause undo stress to your lower back and the uterine ligaments, these tables or specialty wedges may seem like a great idea, but I feel that they are just too risky. I use lots of extra pillows to make sure my moms are comfortable and well supported."
Massage can be very useful during labor
Labor support massage will be different than what most are used to... your body will need different things during this time compared to typical massage appointments. Sacral pressure or hip squeezes, Rebozo or belly support, pressure points, etc are some things that can be done to assist your body through varying transitions of labor. These techniques can be done by your partner, a birth assistant, your nurse, or a Birth Doula. The time to become familiar with the techniques is while you're pregnant before you go into labor and it is a great idea to take your partner or friend with you when you get your massage so I can show your partner the many comfort measures he or she can use to make you more comfortable.
Post-Partum massage is specifically designed to help with the body within the transitional period of your body trying to return to its pre-pregnant condition. This transition occurs over several week, months even. We will discuss this as well as the new accommodations of carrying, breastfeeding and caring for a newborn. It can speed the recovery by bringing relief of sore muscles and help the mother to relax more easily. Abdominal massage helps shrink the uterus and relieve subcutaneous scar tissue. It may be given as early as 24 hours after delivery in a vaginal delivery.
Massage is beneficial for almost everyone although there may be certain conditions that may or may not be related to the pregnancy that would preclude massage or certain types of massage. This may include women at risk for preterm labor, women with blood clots or clotting disorders, and other ailments. Massage done during the first trimester is generally up to the therapist, the woman and her practitioner. Massage has never been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.
No matter where you are in the childbearing years massage will have many benefits for you and your baby.