Being pregnant can obviously be a very stressful time, and massage can be an effective way of dealing with this stress. Some of the benefits of pregnancy massage include relief from muscle cramps & spasms, increase in circulation (which can reduce swelling), or relieving stress on weight-bearing joints, along with the standard psychological benefits of receiving a massage . It has also been found that massage can improve the outcome of labour, and reduce pain during labour. Massaging the mother also has positive effects for the baby - reducing stress is generally good for the baby, as stress affects a wide variety of systems in the body, many of which directly effect a growing child (one study even suggested that stress during the early stages of a pregnancy could effect the gender of the child!).
What’s Different About Pregnancy Massage
There are differences between massage during pregnancy and regular massage. As the person who is receiving the massage is pregnant, special care must be taken, and a knowledge of the anatomy of a pregnant woman is helpful. If using a massage table, it should be in a semi-reclining table, as opposed to one which has a hole cut out for the belly, which causes unnecessary stress on the lower back. Obviously a pregnant woman should not lie directly on her stomach, so if you do not have a massage table, lying on the side (and switching sides) works for the back and hips. There are also a variety of pillows which can make the massage more comfortable.
When ‘Not To’ Massage In Pregnancy
While massage during pregnancy is generally beneficial, there are some situations where it is not advised, and if you are in doubt it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. Women at risk of preterm labour, those with blood clotting disorders, and other conditions can make massage dangerous. There are massage specialists for pregnant women, and using or talking to one of these specialists is recommended. If you are not going to use a professional then it is a good idea to do some research about how to do pregnancy massages on your own, as there are certain things that you want to avoid.
Good For Baby
Finally, newborn babies can also benefit from massages, and massages may improve sleep and behavior patterns, although there are, of course, special techniques to be used. Studies have also found that premature infants who receive massages regularly, gain more weight and leave the hospital sooner.