Pregnancy brings countless changes to your body -- the obvious changes of breasts and belly blossoming to nurture your precious little baby, and the less obvious but equally dramatic changes that may be, unfortunately, more painful than pleasurable. When you’re pregnant, your skeletal structure must support an increasing amount of weight, your organs shift to accommodate the baby, and you go through significant emotional and psychological changes. An aching back, hips and legs; nausea, insomnia, headaches, swollen feet, and unpredictable hormones are all a part of a normal pregnancy. A massage therapist certified in prenatal massage is trained to manipulate the muscles most affected by these changes to help relieve some of the discomforts, and the relaxation can help ease your emotional roller coaster.
Pregnant women often ask, “Is it safe to get a massage during pregnancy?” “YES!” is the answer, “As long as you receive massage from a properly trained prenatal massage practitioner.” Also it is always appropriate for the pregnant mom to check with her midwife or obstetrician before beginning any new procedure, as well as to inform her massage therapist of any medical conditions. If there aren't any contraindicated medical conditions, prenatal massage is absolutely safe from the moment you discover you're pregnant (yay!) through labor and delivery, immediately postpartum and in the following disorienting, exhausting and exciting weeks ahead, and continuing all the way through breastfeeding. (P.S. You WILL eventually master all of the changes in front of you!)
During your 60 or 90 minute massage session with Seva-Simran-Siri Kaur you will be safely and securely supported on the massage table in the optimal position, depending on how many weeks pregnant you are and what kind of physical discomfort you may be experiencing. All contraindicated massage points and therapies (such as vigorous massage, deep tissue work and certain aromatherapy fragrances) are avoided. Foot massage is especially effective for many common gastrointestinal complaints that cannot be addressed by directly massaging the belly. These complaints include indigestion, constipation, heartburn, and hemorrhoids.
You do NOT need to be "physically or emotionally uncomfortable" before you schedule a prenatal massage; benefits abound for you too!
Benefits of prenatal massage may include: • Increase in blood and lymph circulation, which in turn delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the mother and baby, and can reduce swelling in the mother. • Increase of oxygen in the blood, sometimes up to 10-15% after a massage. • Strengthening the immune system. • Relief from sciatic pain. • Relief from muscle cramps and spasms, especially in the lower back, neck, hips, and legs. • Release of endorphins, the body's natural pain killers, into the brain and nervous system. • Enhanced pliability of skin and underlying tissues. • Reduced stress on weight-bearing joints. • An increase in general relaxation, which in turn can decrease insomnia. • Relief from anxiety and depression. • Improved outcome of labor and easing of labor pain. PLUS you will look and feel great!
A word about stress (yuck): Stress can decrease blood supply to your baby by as much as 65% (!) and massage is proven to decrease stress by increasing the circulation of both blood and lymph in the body.
The nurturing support, through touch and sharing information, from a qualified prenatal massage therapist can give the pregnant mom an opportunity for deep relaxation. In contrast to the effects of stress, support and relaxation activate the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, increasing steroid production, which helps create steady blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate; regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and fetus; healthy immune system; balanced emotions and reduced fear and anxiety.
Learning how to relax is an integral part of all childbirth education. Knowing what relaxation feels like, brought about during the massage, can help a mother know how to “let go” and relax during contractions.
How often can you receive a prenatal massage? Each woman and each pregnancy is different, so there is no standard answer to this question. Basically it is very much up to what you feel you need. In a typical, normal pregnancy a good suggestion is to receive massages on the same schedule as your prenatal visits to your doctor or midwife -- early in your pregnancy you go once a month; toward the middle you might receive a massage every other week; and at the end of your pregnancy you start going to the doctor (and may want to receive massages) weekly. Some women would love to come every day, or twice a week. If this sounds like you, please do so!
If you can't get a massage as often as that, please consider scheduling every 4-6 weeks, to support your body during its constant changes, and to help you enjoy your pregnancy even more.
Prenatal massage and its positive effects on your baby: Studies from the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami, FL indicate that pregnancy massage provides more than just symptom-relief for the mother. In addition to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety, stress, sleep problems and back pain, mothers who received massages during their pregnancy had lower rates of premature birth, fewer complications in their delivery, and their newborns had fewer postnatal complications.
Elaine Stillerman, LMT, states in her book Prenatal Massage: A Textbook of Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum Bodywork (St. Louis: Mosby Publishing, 2008) that: "Newborn babies, whose mothers had regular massages prenatally, seemed to sleep better, eat better, gain weight faster, have sweeter dispositions and fewer or shorter episodes of colic... Every emotion has a biochemical component to it. When you feel anxious, for instance, you secrete stress hormones, such as adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. Conversely, when you are relaxed (let's say from a massage) you secrete beta-endorphins which make you feel calm, relaxed and at ease. Since you share a circulatory system with your baby while you are pregnant, it makes sense that whatever you feel is also experienced by the developing fetus."
So when you are relaxing during a prenatal massage, trust that your baby is developing in a "sea of tranquility" and enjoying the euphoria of the massage along with you.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about prenatal massage.