Massage has been practiced throughout recorded history and has been an important part of pregnancy and childbearing for millennia.Pregnancy and birth are a sacred journey, one that creates a miraculous environment for awareness and healing. As a massage therapist, there is nothing quite like working with a mother and her unborn child. The beauty of pregnancy and the energy of new life in the womb gives rise to a deep reverence for the journey the mother and child are on together.
Historically, pregnancy and childbirth were seen to by midwives, healers, birth attendants and family members. Massage was an important tool in assessing the mothers well-being, the position of the unborn child and managing stress and pain before, during and after the birth. With the rise of modern medicine and a more clinical birthing environments we have lost some of these beneficial practices. Prenatal massage is making a comeback through the rise of birthing centers and the resurgence of midwifery and doula’s.
Massage therapy increases an individual’s awareness of their body and for the pregnant woman, whose body is growing and changing every day, this awareness is an amazing tool in understanding and accommodating their needs and connecting with their baby. In addition to body awareness, prenatal massage provides relief from stress and discomfort associated with pregnancy. Stress relief is important for expecting mothers as stress during pregnancy has been shown to cause immune deficiency, nausea, birth complications, including preterm labor, decreases in blood supply to the uterus, fetal distress and even miscarriage.
Benefits of Prenatal Massage include:
- relief of nausea
- increase circulation
- increase in the flow of nutrients to the placenta
- relief of joint discomfort
- reduce minor swelling
- improve mood
- reduce anxiety
- hormone balance
- improve sleep quality
- stress reduction
Massage during pregnancy can be performed not only by a licensed Massage Therapist, but by the pregnant mother herself. Gentle massage can have a soothing effect on both mother and baby. In his book, Nurturing the Unborn Child, Thomas Verny, M.D. writes that after the sixth month of gestation the unborn baby can sense massage of the abdomen and respond to that touch. This implies that not only does the mother benefits mentally and physically but so does the baby! Perhaps this type of nurturing touch could even increase the baby’s awareness of itself and its relationship to its mother and the world at large through the facilitator of the massage.
Prenatal Massage is safe providing the mother-to-be is experiencing a normal, healthy pregnancy. There are certain contraindications and cautions for pregnancy massage such as risk of pre-term labor, preecclampsia, ecclampsia, blood clots and clotting disorders. Consult your physician prior to receiving massage if you have any concerns.
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