Pregnancy is an incredible (and stressful) time in a woman’s life. During this delicate period, women often experience discomfort, pain, stress, and sometimes depression. Prenatal massage is a therapeutic technique that’s becoming more popular today – and for good reason. Massage therapy is a healthy way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness during pregnancy. Also, massage therapy relieves many of the discomforts experienced during pregnancy such as backaches, neck pain, leg cramps, headaches, and edema (or swelling).
The most common prenatal massage techniques include the Swedish massage and reflexology. The Swedish massage, which is the more popular of the two, aims to relax muscle tension and improve blood circulation through mild pressure applied to various muscle groups of the body. It is the recommended prenatal massage method because it focuses on the common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes caused by hormone shifts.
Studies from the University of Miami School of Medicine have shown increased levels of serotonin and dopamine when techniques like the Swedish massage is introduced during pregnancy. Those are the “feel good” hormones that the human body releases when triggered. Studies also showed a decrease in the stress hormone norepinephrine, resulting in an overall decrease in prenatal depression.
Another study from the National Institutes of Health shows that depressed women given massage therapy had fewer prenatal complications. That includes a 75% lower prematurity rate and an 80% lower incidence of low birthweight. They also reported decreased depression and anxiety. What’s more, postpartum depression and cortisol levels decreased in those who received regular prenatal massage therapy.
Aside from regulating hormone levels and decreasing depression, massage therapy during pregnancy provides relief for everyday symptoms. Here’s a list of ailments that prenatal massage can help relieve:
- Muscle tension
- Back pain
- Joint pain
- Leg cramps
- Edema (swelling)
If you’re pregnant, or a loved one is, prenatal massage is something to strongly consider. The reported studies not only show a better quality of life for women during pregnancy but also for their newborn children. Massage therapy provides the relief that you need during this critical period.