Pregnancy massage is the prenatal use of massage therapy to support the physiologic, structural, and emotional well-being of both mother and foetus. Various forms of massage therapy, including Swedish, deep tissue, neuromuscular, movement, and Oriental-based therapies, may be applied throughout pregnancy as well as during labour and the postpartum period.
Profound physiologic, functional, emotional, relational, and lifestyle changes occur during gestation and labour, often creating high stress levels. Too much stress can negatively affect maternal and infant health, resulting in reduced uterine blood supply and higher incidence of miscarriage, prematurity, and other complications.
Massage therapy can help a woman approach her due date with less anxiety as well as less physical discomfort. Even apart from easing specific aches, massage can act as an overall tonic and increase the expectant mother’s body awareness. Massage therapy can address the various physical challenges of pregnancy: edema; foot, leg, or hand discomforts; and pain in the lower back, pelvis, or hips. Swedish massage may facilitate gestation by supporting cardiac function, placental and mammary development, and increasing cellular respiration. It can also reduce edema and high blood pressure as well as contribute to sympathetic nervous system sedation. Deep tissue, trigger point, and both active and passive movements alleviate stress on weight-bearing joints, muscles, and facial tissues to reduce neck and back pain caused by poor posture and strain on the uterine ligaments. During labour, women whose partners use basic massage strokes on their backs and legs have shorter, less complicated labours. After the baby’s birth, massage therapy can gently facilitate the body’s return to its pre-pregnancy state, alleviate pain, foster a renewed sense of body and self, and help maintain flexibility despite the physical stresses of infant care. For post-Caesarean mothers, specific therapeutic techniques can also reduce scar tissue formation and facilitate the healing of the incision and related soft tissue areas.
When nestled with pillows or other specialty cushions into a side-lying or semi-reclining position, most women are more comfortable for the 30-60 minutes of a typical massage session. A pregnant woman can expect to enjoy many of the same techniques, draping, and professional demeanour offered all massage therapy clients. The lower back, hips, and neck benefit from sensitively applied deep tissue, neuromuscular, and movement therapy. Edema in the legs and arms may be relieved with the gliding and kneading strokes of Swedish or lymphatic drainage massage. Pregnant women should expect a thorough health and prenatal intake interview with their therapists. Cost, procedures, and insurance coverage are similar to those for other massage client populations.