Prenatal massage improves the physiological as well as emotional well-being of both the expecting mother and the fetus. In this article, you will get a brief overview of this therapy.
Pregnancy is a turbulent phase in any woman’s life. She experiences a lot of pains and aches like sciatica, hip pain, back pain, swelling ankles, and so on. Moreover, there are many hormonal and physical changes that take place in their body during this period that they tend to get exhausted, both physically and mentally. In such a scenario, regular massages is one such prenatal care that can ease off the discomfort to a great extent.
Like any other regular massage, this therapy helps make pregnant women feel relaxed. Apart from that, there are several health benefits associated with it. They are as follows:
- Prenatal massage improves the muscle tone and provides relief from cramping, tightening, and stiffening of the muscles.
- It improves blood circulation which, in turn, will supply more oxygen to the baby. It can also reduce the swelling of legs.
- It eases back and leg pain, which is triggered by change in the body posture.
- It improves the skin condition and, thus, reduces the chances of stretch marks.
- It reduces stress hormones which, in turn, helps cope up with anxiety, depression, and nervousness. Moreover, when the mind is relaxed, the would-be mother can get relief from sleeplessness as well.
This type of massage should always be done by a therapist who has undergone training. These practitioners have received training on aspects, like the areas to be massaged, the kinds of strokes that are suitable during pregnancy, the amount of pressure to be applied, etc. Thus, they can carry out the massage safely and effectively without any hassles or concerns.
During pregnancy, most women are not comfortable lying face down as their breasts are tender and swollen. Even lying flat on the back is not recommended at the later stage of pregnancy. For this reason, therapists use a special table. It has hollowed-out areas with padding so that the belly and breasts can be accommodated into it when they lie on the stomach. If such a table is not available, then the mother-to-be should lie on one side, and a full-length pillow should be kept to support her legs and body. The massage room should have soft lighting and soothing music for further relaxation of the mind and body.
Therapists use scented lotions or massage oil for prenatal massage. If you are not comfortable with the scent, unscented lotions can also be utilized. They start the massage from the base of the neck and move down the back. The pressure applied is much lighter than the usual massage. However, the spine and curve across the lower back region is avoided. Then again, the hands move back to the base of the neck. This is done repeatedly till the back muscles are completely relaxed. The hips are under a lot of pressure due to the increasing size of the uterus and weight of the baby. So, massaging this area will bring significant relief from the overall body stress. In the first trimester, abdominal massage is avoided, as many women fear that it can dislodge the placenta. In the later pregnancy stages, abdominal massage is done with an open palm, and the strokes are circular in clockwise direction.
Next comes massaging of the legs. The palm and a soft fist are used to massage the legs. It should start from the ankle and move upward towards the thigh. The area in between the ankle and hip is rubbed with long strokes. However, massaging of the inner thighs is strictly avoided as it may release clots and cause serious health complications. It will improve blood circulation of the area and reduce ankle swelling. Finally, the hands and feet are massaged. For this, small, circular motions are used with the strokes directed towards the heart. The feet are massaged with an exceptionally gentle pressure because there are several pressure points which can induce labor. The duration can be anywhere between 10 minutes to one hour. If at any point you are feeling any sense of discomfort, you should inform your therapist who will stop the procedure there and then.
Prenatal massage is safe for most of the women. However, those who have problems, like heavy discharge, diabetes, contagious illness, high blood pressure, stomach infection, high risk pregnancy etc., the massage could be risky. If there is some skin infection or open wounds, then they can get aggravated by massaging. Therefore, it is always advisable to check out with the doctor whether it is suitable for you or not.