Having a baby is a time of excitement as you prepare for the enormous life changes that are ahead of you. It is a time in life when everything needs to be adjusted: your work, your relationships and your purse strings!
Incorporating massage into your life during this time of change can be a great way to help you stay healthy, relaxed and ready for the new life ahead.
A good massage clinic will have all of the necessary equipment to make sure your massage is as relaxing and comfortable as possible. It’s a lot more than dimmed lighting and relaxation music!
Finding the right pregnancy massage in Newcastle is possible. Your massage therapist should be aware of all the changes happening to your body, during pregnancy, and how to best accommodate you. These changes may include going to the toilet more often, larger tender breasts, low blood pressure, increased nausea and/or dizziness and heartburn. It’s also important that your position on the massage table is managed so you and baby are comfortable and safe.
During the first trimester care needs to be taken to avoid causing excessive breast tenderness, generally up to 13 weeks you should still be comfortable laying face down on the massage table with some support around your breasts if needed.
In the second trimester thankfully nausea, frequent urination and breast tenderness will generally ease off. You are more likely to experience musculoskeletal pain as the ligaments and tendon soften. It is important during this stage that your spine is well supported. Side lying or face up can be comfortable positioning in trimester 2. During this phase, laying face down is best avoided as the enlarged uterus can cause low blood pressure and lying face down may exacerbate this.
In the third trimester side lying or face up can be continued, your therapist may elevate the upper part of the body to avoid dizziness and heartburn from lying flat. It is during this trimester that the body is increasingly overworked and the frequent urination can return! Massage can be incredibly rewarding for the participant at this stage of pregnancy.
Research states that using tables or pillows with the hole cut out allowing you to lay face down may reduce blood circulation to Bub and add unnecessary strain to Mums lower back and the softened ligaments around the abdomen and uterus.
Pregnancy massage differs from general massage as it requires an extra level of expertise, sensitivity and gentleness to factor in for the bub. It’s important to ensure that your therapist is properly trained in pregnancy massage. They should avoid specific areas and incorporate special techniques that provide a safe and beneficial treatment.
During pregnancy you will experience an enormous degree of changes to your musculoskeletal system. Massage is a great way of helping your body adjust to those changes. There are many benefits to be had with pregnancy massage.
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage:
Improves sleep and decreases insomnia
Anyone who has been pregnant knows that sleep can suffer! Two Thirds of pregnant women report disturbance in their sleep pattern. (1) It can be difficult to find a comfortable position and sometimes the extra pressure on the bladder can mean multiple trips to the bathroom. In general, massage can improve sleep quality as you will be feeling a bit more comfortable without the usual muscle tension, you will also be more relaxed mentally. After a massage most people will experience a fantastic night of sleep.
If you are someone who suffers from headaches or migraines you may know that taking painkillers, aside from the occasional panadol, is not safe whilst carrying a baby. In addition it is common for women to get hip and lower back pain as the ligaments and tendons soften in preparation for the birth.
Pregnancy massage offers a safe, drug -free alternative choice for pain relief.
Sciatica is another common pain point during pregnancy; the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lumbar area to the lower leg, can get irritated and cause discomfort in the hip and leg.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is pain, numbness and tingling in the forearms and sometimes the hands. This happens when the median nerve in the forearm becomes compressed. Massage has been found to be effective in reducing the symptoms. (2) If you are prone to cramps massage is a great way of reducing this muscle tension. Restless legs syndrome is also a common annoying problem during pregnancy where the legs feel ‘uncomfortable’ without any other known cause. If cramps and restless legs syndrome persist you may benefit from supplements which will re balance your minerals and reduce muscle tension. The added bonus is these types of supplements often help with sleep!
Reduces swelling in hands and feet
During pregnancy your body will produce up to 50% more blood and fluid than normal. This can lead to puffy hands, feet and ankles. Although this is normal it is often uncomfortable. Massage relieves everyday discomfort of oedema (fluid retention). It promotes the fluid to move back up towards the circulatory system for elimination. Cold therapy can also be used in the treatment, and it vasoconstricts the blood vessels, so that the extra fluid is sent deeper into the tissue and resolved by the lymphatic system. Your therapist can also give you useful tips to alleviate fluid building up such as raising your legs up when possible, drinking lots of water and avoid long periods of standing.
Prepares muscles used during and after childbirth
Regular massage during pregnancy may improve the natural progression of labour, with better health outcomes for you and your bub. (6) Mothers that are more relaxed have a lower risk of interventions during childbirth and labour. After your baby is born, massage for your neck, upper chest, shoulders and back can help relieve tension caused by the foreign feeling of breastfeeding and constantly picking up your baby.
Developed kinaesthetic awareness
Pregnancy massage can help to build a sense of connectedness with the Bub, especially as your baby may respond to touch while the stomach is being treated. It’s not uncommon for patients to see their baby moving whilst they are enjoying a relaxing foot massage!
Pre-eclampsia is a condition during pregnancy when your blood pressure rises too high (over 140/90). Symptoms can include dizziness, weight gain, blurred vision and excessive swelling. If you are pregnant and experiencing any of these symptoms then you need to seek medical advice immediately. Massage can, over time, help to lower elevated blood pressure but is should be noted that this is a serious condition.
Stretch marks and cellulite
Massage is a really easy way of keeping the skin’s elasticity optimal, which will reduce stretch marks. Your massage therapist should also be able to recommend oils you can use at home to reduce the likelihood of stretch marks as your baby grows. We love Weleda stretch mark massage oil. Cellulite is more common during pregnancy because of the increase in fluid and weight gain. The likelihood of excessive cellulite developing on the thighs is reduced with regular massage, as it will help to mobilise fluid and fatty tissue. (3) Other things you can do to help reduce cellulite is eat a healthy diet and avoid stimulants such as tea, coffee and alcohol. For more help with nutrition during your pregnancy click here.
Being pregnant can come with anxiety around the unknown for first time mums. Not knowing how the birth will go or being concerned about the future can create excessive anxiety for people prone to this condition. Pregnancy can be a time of worry and distress particularly for those who have had traumatic births in the past, had re-current miscarriages, experienced post natal depression or had a still birth pregnancy. Massage is a great way of helping alleviate these feelings as it can have a fantastic effect on stabilising hormones.
Massage can reduce stress hormones like cortisol during or after the pregnancy. However the levels of hormones, like serotonin and dopamine, are generally increased after massage. Serotonin and dopamine are the neurotransmitters also know as the ‘feel good’ hormones.
In one study women suffering depression were given twice-weekly massages for 12 weeks. At the conclusion of the 12 weeks they had reduced cortisol (stress hormone) and reduced depressive feelings. (4)
If you do suffer from depression, massage may benefit your baby according to a 2006 study. After all what affects you also affects your baby. In this study depressed mothers were given massages between 5 and 8 months and the neonates were more interactive and smiled. The baby’s also scored lower on the depressive scale. (5) Another study found that babies were less likely to be born pre maturely if the mothers had experienced massages during pregnancy. (6)
Things to be wary of during pregnancy massage
In a high-risk pregnancy, it is important to follow your Doctors advice in regards to getting a massage. Most pregnancy related health concerns such as gestational diabetes, genetic disorders, and stillbirth are not related to or affected by massage.
All in all pregnancy massage is a safe and nurturing experience, which helps to prepare the mother-to-be for an easier delivery.
Not only does it have an ability to reduce pain and muscular tension it’s also sedating for the nervous system, promoting relaxation and stress relief.
According to research pregnancy massage improves sleep and decreases pain and anxiety. The same study found urinary stress hormone levels (norepinephrine) were decreased in the massage therapy group and that women had fewer complications during labour. (6)
- Non-pharmacological interventions for sleep quality and insomnia during pregnancy: A systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743652/
- Comparison of a Targeted and General Massage Protocol on Strength, Function, and Symptoms Associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomised Pilot Study. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2007.0647
- Effects of mechanical massage, manual lymphatic drainage and connective tissue manipulation techniques on fat mass in women with cellulite. https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/doi/full/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2009.03355.x
- Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birth weight and postpartum depression. https://www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/science/article/pii/S01636383090007
- Newborns of depressed mothers who received moderate versus light pressure massage during pregnancy. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163638305000755
- Pregnant women benefit from massage. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/102