Massage has been used for thousands of years to improve health, reduce stress and decrease muscle pain. But did you know it's also beneficial for pregnant women?
Modern research has established that prenatal massage can help pregnant women and should be considered complementary care during pregnancy. Here are some ways a prenatal massage can benefit you during pregnancy.
It's common for your joints to swell during pregnancy. The condition occurs because your circulation system isn't functioning as well as it does when you're not pregnant. Pressure from your heavy uterus puts pressure on your major blood vessels. Massages helps move fluid from your joints into your soft tissues where it's reabsorbed by your body's lymphatic system.
Reduces Nerve Pain
Many women experience sciatic nerve pain late in pregnancy. Your uterus puts pressure on the muscles in your pelvic floor and lower back. In turn, the pressures spreads to muscles in your legs. Your legs swell, which puts pressure on your nerves, specifically the sciatic nerve. When the sciatic nerve is inflamed, you feel pain shooting down your legs. Massage therapy will release tension on your muscles which reduces inflammation in your nerves.
Studies show that pregnant women who receive bi-weekly massages have reduced amounts of hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol which are both associated with stress. These woman had increased levels of dopamine and serotonin which are important for mood stabilization. The research followed the women's birth outcomes and found that there were fewer instances of newborn complications among women who receive regular prenatal massages
Other potential benefits of prenatal massage include:
- Decreased back and joint pain,
- Decreased muscle tension and headaches,
- Lower stress and anxiety,
- Better sleep.
Is Prenatal Massage Safe?
First, check with your doctor. If you need an obstetrician to care for you during pregnancy, please visit the PBMC website to view our providers.
For most women, a prenatal massage is completely safe. If you have certain risk factors, prenatal massage may not be right for you. Risk factors include but aren't limited to:
- Pregnancy induced hypertension,
- Previous pre-term labor,
- Severe swelling, high blood pressure, or sudden, severe headaches,
If your physician says it's OK, seek out a certified massage therapist who has experience working with pregnant women.
The benefits of a prenatal massage are many, but as with most things when you're pregnant, check with your doctor before having a massage. Peconic Bay Medical Center has board-certified obstetricians on staff who will oversee your prenatal care and be there when you deliver.