Massage for two!
By Meredith Nathan, LMT, Director of Massage
Let’s be honest…massage reaches a whole new level of amazing when you’re prego. The benefits for mama-to-be are far reaching, and usually become more and more apparent the farther into the pregnancy you are. As your baby grows, the weight in the belly increases, pulling the low back forward and throwing the spine into an exaggerated ‘S’ curve. All the muscles along the spine have to adjust and, as a result, new patterns of back tension and pain emerge. Relaxin kicks in, loosening the joints of the hips – this is necessary for a successful labor, but leads to waddling and increased hip and front ligament tension. Add to this other common pregnancy symptoms: swelling, carpal tunnel, headaches, stress, anxiety and more, and massage becomes next in line to food, water, and shelter on the list of top things you need to survive!
But the benefits of massage extend beyond helping mama to be more comfortable…there are benefits to baby too! Increase blood flow stimulates her growing body, and touch is how she receives information (so don’t be surprised if while you’re relaxing on the table your little one starts throwing a dance party!). Meanwhile, lymphatic stimulation to mama means that baby is growing in a cleaner environment, as the lymph carries toxins and excessive hormones to the lymph nodes where they are processed and purified.
So how often should you receive prenatal massage? First of all, wait to begin till your second trimester*, and even then make sure your massage therapist is prenatally certified, as there are points on the body and techniques that should be avoided. Once you’re at 14 weeks, a good rule of thumb is to come in monthly; this provides a great foundation to support your body and your baby during your second trimester. Don’t be surprised though if your body starts asking for more frequent work during the third trimester – coming in weekly during the last 6 to 8 weeks of pregnancy is healthy and encouraged! Many women report that the more massage they received during their pregnancy, the healthier and better they felt up until labor, and s tudies even show that women who have received regular prenatal massage have greater a chance of reduced pain perception during labor and delivery. They tend to have shorter labors and have healthier babies (as measured by higher Apgar and Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment scores).
No marathon or mountain climb can hold a candle to the trillions of subtle functions your body is performing every day. So take the time to nurture yourself, while your body performs it’s ultimate feat!
* In your first trimester, we recommend receiving ‘Unwind the Mind’, a session that has been created specifically for a woman in her early pregnancy.