Pregnancy is an exciting but challenging time for expectant mothers. But growing a human inside your body can take a toll. The joy of creating a new life can come with physical discomforts like back and hip pain, swollen legs, and stress.
Massage therapy is a safe, natural way to alleviate common pregnancy pains while providing emotional and physical benefits for both mother and child. So, how does prenatal massage work? We’ll explore what pregnant moms can expect during a massage and why choosing a certified massage therapist is crucial.
What Is Prenatal Massage?
For people with back pain (or any body pain), massage therapy provides instant and long-term relief. For moms-to-be who are hesitant to get on a massage table, massage guns can alleviate pain and help relax muscles. However, there are specific techniques and tools that enable a certified massage therapist to perform a prenatal massage safely.
Prenatal massage is designed specifically for expectant mothers and their changing bodies. Swedish-style massage techniques to relieve muscle aches, improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage, and promote relaxation during pregnancy. Long, smooth strokes and light pressure are applied to ease strains in the lower back, hips, legs and shoulders caused by compensating for baby weight and shifting posture. It also helps increase circulation and blood flow.
How Does Prenatal Massage Work?
Prenatal massage therapists use specially designed pillows (also known as bolsters) or an adjustable table to position expectant mothers comfortably on their side. These supportive cushions help properly align the back and the hips of pregnant moms and give the massage therapist access to various points to alleviate discomfort and pain, especially in the lower back.
Benefits of Prenatal Massage for Mom and Baby
Prenatal massage has multiple healing benefits for both mom and baby. Not only do multiple studies confirm prenatal massage therapy successfully reduces the aches and pains associated with pregnancy (including sciatic nerve pain), but it also helps with stress and the birthing process. Let’s start with moms. Here are the benefits of prenatal massage for moms-to-be include:
Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Prenatal massage promotes relaxation and has been shown to reduce norepinephrine and cortisol—hormones known to increase stress levels.
Improved Mood: 14-23% of pregnant women struggle with some form of depression throughout the pregnancy. Studies show that prenatal massage increases dopamine and serotonin levels, which sends that “happy feeling” throughout your body, improving your mood.
Better Sleep: Not only are you relaxed during the massage, but prenatal massage promotes more restful sleep overall, which is often elusive during pregnancy. This strengthens the immune system and replenishes the body.
Reduce Labor Pains: One study revealed that women who had prenatal massage experienced less pain during labor while their labors were three hours shorter on average.
Prenatal Massage Benefits for Baby
Prenatal massage doesn’t just help mom feel better – it also aids the baby’s health and development in the womb:
Promotes Proper Positioning: Ideal fetal positioning in the pelvis aids the birthing process. Prenatal massage encourages optimal positioning by relaxing and releasing tension in surrounding muscles.
Encourages Brain Development: Higher cortisol levels can impact the neurodevelopment of babies in the womb. Regular prenatal massage helps maintain lower cortisol levels to facilitate healthy fetal development.
Improves Birth Weight: Low birth weight babies have higher risks of complications and slow development. Research links prenatal massage with higher birth weight and earlier delivery, especially for high-risk pregnancies.
How Often Should Pregnant Moms Get a Prenatal Massage?
Beginning massage after the first trimester helps establish regular self-care and coping techniques before more severe discomforts manifest in the second and third trimesters. When it comes to massage, frequency increases the benefits. The same is true with prenatal massage. Ideally, massage should be performed at least once a week. However, pregnant moms receiving prenatal massage twice a week experience less anxiety, better sleep, and less back pain.
Is Prenatal Massage Safe?
Despite its benefits, prenatal massage may not be suitable for every woman. For example, many pregnant women experience swelling throughout the pregnancy, with close to 75% having swelling mainly in the last trimester. While prenatal massage helps reduce swelling, it is not recommended for those women diagnosed as high-risk or with preeclampsia—though a 2013 study showed manual lymphatic drainage massage significantly reduced leg swelling.
Some other potential issues include blood clots and changes in blood pressure depending on the pressure applied during the prenatal massage. Despite its benefits, prenatal massage may not be suitable for every woman. It’s critical to consult your healthcare provider before incorporating prenatal massage into your self-care routine.
Choose a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist
While all states require massage therapists to have a license, many do not require certifications for massage specializations like prenatal massage. However, ethical practitioners like Ron Jarvis of First Coast Neuromuscular Massage and First Coast Lymphatic Drainage invest in specialized education to safely work with expectant mothers’ changing needs.
This training involves a minimum of 25 hours of instruction on pregnancy anatomy and physiology, proper positioning and bolstering, contraindications, and specialized techniques. Training emphasizes caution around pressure points and techniques that could induce labor prematurely. Certified prenatal massage therapists have demonstrable knowledge and hands-on competency in best practices.
Schedule a Prenatal Massage In Jacksonville, FL
Prenatal massage helps reduce pain and swelling for pregnant moms, decrease cortisol levels, increase feel-good hormones, lessen labor pain, and promotes healthier neurodevelopment for your baby. Take this step toward healing and growth by scheduling a nurturing prenatal massage with Ron Jarvis.
Trained and certified in several massage therapy specializations, including prenatal massage, Ron holds to the highest standards of care, ensuring a secure and nurturing environment for mother and baby alike. Schedule a prenatal massage with Ron Jarvis at our locations in Jacksonville, FL or Fernandina Beach, FL.