Prenatal massage can benefit you throughout your pregnancy with:
• monthly appointments until around 27 weeks
• twice monthly appointments from around 27 weeks to 36 weeks
• weekly appointments from 36 weeks until you give birth
Massage therapy increases hormones associated with relaxation and stress reduction. This, in turn, promotes more even mood and improved cardiovascular function. In one study, women who got bi-weekly massages for five weeks had lower levels of stress hormones like norepinephrine and cortisol, and higher levels of relaxation hormones like serotonin and dopamine, both of which can ward off depression and anxiety. This is important for all mothers, but essential for those who have battled anxiety and depression in the past.
Edema is common during the later stages of pregnancy. Caused by reduced circulation, increased blood volume in the body, and pressure exerted by the uterus on major blood vessels, edema can be uncomfortable and limiting. Fortunately, massage can help resolve it. Because massage therapy stimulates soft tissues and helps to disperse fluid, it can reduce swelling and help you stay comfortable throughout your pregnancy. Massage also stimulates the lymphatic system, making it easier for the body to remove waste and stay clean and healthy.
One of the most common complaints of pregnancy is nerve pain, specifically sciatic nerve pain. Because the enlarged uterus exerts pressure on the muscles in the lower back and pelvic floor, it can pinch the sciatic nerve in the upper leg, causing sharp pain and discomfort. By reducing pressure on inflamed nerves, massage therapy reduces tension and pain and can resolve sciatic nerve pain altogether. In fact, massage therapy is one of the few safe, natural, drug-free alternatives to pain relief, which is essential since ingesting medications while pregnant can be dangerous, and choices for moms-to-be are limited.
Massage helps expectant mothers maintain proper posture and cope with the changing alignment caused by the growing baby (and belly!). Massage also increases the tone and flexibility of muscles, which makes it easier for mothers to carry additional weight. Because of this, massage can help both mother and baby stay in better alignment and prepare holistically for a healthy and uncomplicated birth.
The human body produces 50-60 percent more blood during pregnancy, so circulation is essential. Fortunately, massage therapy helps facilitate it. By supporting the return of blood to the heart and increasing blood flow to the uterus and placenta, massage therapy makes it easier for the body to process increased blood volume and ensure proper venous return to the heart.