by Shalon Da~Nai Spaulding, LMT
Massage Therapy is beneficial to everyone, especially the expectant mother. Pregnancy is a time of great change for a woman. From the continuous changes in her body to the overall transition as she journeys toward motherhood, there is much to process. It is a time of great joy and excitement, but with that can also come physical discomfort and mental or emotional stress.
Prenatal massage is customized to alleviate the physical discomforts of pregnancy and prepare the body for birth. During pregnancy the center of gravity shifts as the baby grows. This causes changes in posture, starting at the pelvis and affecting the neck and shoulders. Muscular tension and inflammation are common side affects of this shift. The body produces the hormone relaxin to help joint mobility. Relaxin causes all ligaments in the body to soften, stretch and weaken. As a result, women may develop carpal tunnel syndrome, pelvic pain, and/or other joint pains.
Pregnancy affects nearly all systems of the body. Sinus congestion and constipation are often an issue. Breathing and digestion are affected as the baby grows, compressing and displacing organs within the mother’s body. Skeletal position also changes. As the baby grows, it lifts and widens the rib cage up to 3 inches. The pelvis also widens to prepare for birth. All of these changes may affect each mother uniquely, and massage can help ease the ensuing discomforts.
Stress during pregnancy is common, as it is a major life change. Many practitioners believe that everything the mother feels, the baby also feels. Stress affects hormone levels within both mother and child, and this can affect fetal development. The best thing an expectant mom can do for her baby is to stay relaxed and promote feelings of love and well being within herself.
Studies have shown that women who received pregnancy massage not only experienced lower levels of stress hormones and fewer common discomforts, but also had fewer complications during labor and fewer premature births than those who did not receive massage.*
*Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 20, 31-38
Benefits of Prenatal Massage:
~Reduces stress levels
~Eases back and pelvic pain caused by changes in posture
~Reduces swelling of feet and ankles
~Improves skin elasticity, reducing stretch marks
~Reduces sinus congestion
~Relaxes and soothes baby
The effects of pregnancy do not end after the baby has been delivered. The body takes time to shift back to its original alignment. Trigger points that developed may still cause pain, stiffness and weakness in the muscles. The body continues to create the hormone relaxin for up 4 months postpartum, and this perpetuates the excessive flexibility and weakness in joints. It can be hard for a new mother to focus on anything but her new child, but it is important to realize that time spent caring for herself enables her to care for her baby in the best way possible.
Benefits of Postpartum Massage:
~Brings the body back to pre-pregnancy alignment
~Helps with tension and muscle pain of the neck, shoulders & low back
~Aids in returning the uterus to normal size
~Soothes digestive trouble
~Energizes and helps to eliminate fatigue
~Balances hormones & sleep cycle
~Decreases stress and the effects of depression
All practitioners at Healing Hands Chiropractic specialize in prenatal and postpartum care, including chiropractic, acupuncture, reiki, and yoga. We also offer workshops in pregnancy, childbirth, and wellness.