Following on from last week’s email busting some of the common myths about pregnancy massage, I thought I’d dive deeper into the recognised benefits of pregnancy massage. These include treatment of various aches and pains, lowering stress and anxiety for both mum and bub. Improving sleep and birth weight and a few others.
These benefits can also flow over into postpartum massage as well, where poor sleep quality, neck and should pain and stress and anxiety can all be issues. Without further ado below is the top 10 benefits if pregnancy massage:
Treatment of hip pain
This is probably the most common complaint we see, followed by lower back pain. Although these two are interrelated they can be severe enough in their own right to warrant their own write-up. Hip pain is predominantly caused by a combination of the release of a hormone called relaxin and the body changes occurring during pregnancy. As the baby grows it can cause physical changes in your gait (how you walk) and to sitting and standing positions, so this can negatively impact the hips. Having regular pregnancy massage can help in most instances by relieving some of the tension in the muscles, as well as giving them some well deserved TLC. To note, increasing the strength of and making sure your core is being activated can help with pelvic stability.
Treatment of lower back pain and sciatica
Lower back pain and (its evil cousin) sciatica are related to the changes in the body I mentioned above, as well as either a predisposition to these conditions or more forward pelvic tilt being caused by the growing uterus and baby. We do tend to see these issues combined with hip pain, so the treatment is targeted at similar areas due to the interrelationship of the muscles involved. When there is identified sciatic pain involvement, we would also recommend some dry needling or acupuncture, as well as chiropractic treatment. This is with the aim to help stabilise the area and provide pain relief in a natural way. Heat packs can also be helpful but used for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
Lowering of stress and anxiety levels
Several studies have shown that massage lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increases serotonin and dopamine levels (happy hormones). In one research trial focusing on anxiety, twice-weekly massage over a 5 week period significantly reduced anxiety levels and improved mood regulation, as well as having a positive benefit on the cardiovascular system by slightly lowering blood pressure.
Reducing neck and shoulder pain
Another common occurrence is neck and shoulder pain – this is partly due to those pesky hormones again, but also caused by changes in posture as the baby bump alters your natural sitting position. Postural changes during computer use can also trigger this pain. As the belly grows, it’s important to look at the ergonomics of your workstation to help keep any positional problems in check. Then some nice deep remedial pregnancy massage in those tight traps usually does the trick.
Reduction of swelling (Oedema)
Another common symptom we see is oedema or swelling (from increased blood volume and fluid in the body). Massage helps by physically moving the fluid back into general circulation so helping the body to get rid of waste and better regulate this fluid. In more severe cases massage can be performed daily – this is where a loving partner could step in and do 10 minutes of gentle massage every couple of days – we’re more than happy to give them a demonstration during one of your sessions.
Improving sleep can help anyone to feel better but this is even more important during pregnancy as discomfort from a changed sleeping position can also impact the quality of sleep. Due to those wonderful hormone regulating benefits of pregnancy massage, it can lead to a great night’s sleep.
Related to the body’s physical changes already mentioned are the incidence of headaches and migraines. Both are common in pregnancy and depending on your personal history can be aggravated for some people. As with treating sciatica, massage combined with other Feel Amazing treatments like acupuncture, dry needling, and chiropractic, can offer a more holistic and natural approach to care. With any sudden severe headaches, as a precaution, they should be checked out by your GP, as it can be a sign of preeclampsia or high blood pressure.
Lowers babies stress hormones
Hormones have so much to answer for, but not only does mum gain the benefit from the positive hormonal effects of pregnancy massage, the baby does too.
Lowers risk of low birth weight
Further research has shown that regular massage also lowers cortisol levels in babies and reduces the risk of low birth weight.
Time to focus on your individual needs and overall wellbeing
Finally, pregnancy massage not only addresses the body’s changing needs but provides the pregnant woman with individual care and nurturing support at this amazing time. This chance to take some time out and really enjoying being pregnant while getting some support through massage is so important, as this opportunity definitely gets harder once the baby arrives.
So in summary, having remedial massage throughout pregnancy at Feel Amazing can improve the functioning of joints, muscles, aid circulation, decrease physical and mental fatigue, relieve stress, tension and help with common pregnancy related aches and pains, as well as hormonal and emotional changes.
Feel Amazing Wellness Centre in Chatswood has the reputation as one of the most well known centres in Sydney for this specialty massage. Our team of qualified and experienced practitioners are here to help you during this special time. We also have specialty pregnancy cushions that provide comfort and support during the massage.
Further Reading and Resources
The two largest Australian massage therapy associations as well as the two largest American associations fully endorse massage from conception through to birth. I’ve included these links to them if you’d like to research more – Amt, Aamt, Abmp, Amta
Stager, Leslie, RN, LMT, Nurturing Massage for Pregnancy: A Practical Guide to Bodywork for the Perinatal Cycle.
Field, T. (1999). Pregnant Women Benefit From Massage Therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mar;20(1):31-8.
Field, T. (2004). Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jun;25(2):115-22.
Howell, Julie, NMT, PMT, Prenatal Health Through Massage Therapy: For Women and Their Babies.