Your entire body adapts to the new life growing within you. You also face important life changes at home or at work, with family or friends. You need and deserve support, especially since two people now depend on your health and vitality.
Massage is a wonderful way to relax, increase your energy, and relieve discomfort during your pregnancy. The caring touch of massage can help you experience your changing body in a positive, accepting way. Massage can also be something special for you at a time when so much of your attention is on the baby.
Aims of Massage during pregnancy
- Prior to pregnancy, especially helpful to those who are finding it difficult to conceive.
- During pregnancy, often given in the side–lying position instead of lying on one’s stomach or back.
- During labor, for stress reduction and muscle relaxation between contractions and/or support during back labor.
- After delivery, postpartum massage facilitates rehabilitation of abdominal muscles.
- Reduces strain on the muscles of the abdomen, neck, shoulders, and lower back.
- Relieves some of the common discomforts of pregnancy – nausea, fatigue, heartburn, headaches, backaches and stresses of being pregnant.
- Helps a woman to accept many physical changes her body goes through while pregnant.
- Provides a quiet time to relax and reflect.
- Improves labor outcomes with reduced pain perception and shorter labors by stimulating acupressure and reflexology points.
- Relaxes and gives relief of muscle tension brought about by contractions.
- Provides comfort, support and nurturing.
- Relieve pain in your muscles and joints that must support extra weight.
- Increase flexibility, making it easier for your body to adjust to additional weight.
- Relieve abdominal soreness caused by an active baby’s kicks.
- Ease constipation, gas and heartburn as general relaxation stimulates intestinal movement.
- Reduce excess fluid retention by gently pushing fluid into circulation where it can be eliminated.
- Slow the progress of varicose veins as enhanced circulation lowers pressure on bulging veins.
- Relieve headaches caused by tension, constipation, or buildup of metabolic.
You will be comfortably supported with pillows or cushions during your massage, and may even find yourself lying face–down for the first time in a while. In later pregnancy you can get a complete massage comfortably supported in a side–lying position. If lying down is simply not comfortable, you can remain seated for a relaxing partial massage.
Learning Self–Care Techniques
Besides the immediate relief you get from a massage, you may also learn ways to make yourself more comfortable at home. You may find ways to use pillows for support when you are lying down. Your therapist might give you feedback on your posture or suggest exercises and stretches to help you relieve tension. You might even learn gentle breathing exercises to help you relax.
Coping with Stress
The tension caused by stress, along with the physical changes of pregnancy, can sap your energy for coping day to day. A soothing massage can relieve physical and emotional tension, help you sleep better, and boost your energy.
Preparing for Labor
Massage can help you prepare for the birthing process in several ways. Regular massage to the lower back, abdomen, and inner thighs can release chronic tension in these areas for minimal resistance during delivery.
Massage During Labor
Massage is part of the birthing process in virtually all tribal cultures of the world. It can help you relax between contractions, reduce pain from tight muscles and provide emotional support and encouragement. Because stress interferes with the production of labor–inducing hormones, there is even evidence that massage can promote speedier birth.
In the postpartum period, nature sets about undoing in eight weeks what it took nine months to create. Though it may be difficult, it is as important to care for yourself now as it was during your pregnancy. Postpartum massage is to help restore your body to its pre–pregnancy condition. In the postpartum period, you may suffer from fatigue, soreness from overused birthing muscles.
Benefits of postpartum massage
If you have delivered vaginally, it is recommended to wait at least two weeks for a massage because after birth there will usually be a bloody discharge and possibly a passing of blood clots. Massage can stimulate blood flow, and this could increase the passing of blood.
If you have delivered by C–section, massage is fine as soon as you feel like being massaged. Usually 5–6 weeks postpartum, it would be comfortable for you to lie on your stomach again. If your incision has an infection, be sure to wait to get a massage until that has cleared up.
- Help in returning the body to the pre–pregnancy state.
- Assists in restoring the abdominal muscle wall.
- Reduces and alleviates muscle tension and stress.
- Provides emotional support.
- Aids in the recovery of cesarean delivery.