How many times have you witnessed someone walk up to a pregnant woman, ask her when she’s due, and then reach forward and rub her belly? Maybe you’ve been pregnant and had this happen to you. There is a notion that a pregnant belly is an invitation to touch a woman without asking her permission.
Pregnancy is often an uncomfortable experience for a woman, regardless of how rewarding she finds it. The added weight to her torso puts pressure on her back, causing pain. Her feet swell and become painful. As the baby grows, he puts pressure on her internal organs causing discomfort and more frequent urination. She begins to have strong cravings and tenderness in her breasts as they prepare for nurturing and infant. Unwanted touch only adds to this discomfort.
THE EFFECTS OF PRENATAL MASSAGE
There are numerous positive effects that massage can have for a pregnant woman. For one, it provides her with gentle, caring, wanted human contact. For once, the touch she is receiving is not violating her space. On top of that, massage relaxes muscles that have added stress as the baby continues to grow and add weight to her body.
Massage increases circulation, which carries oxygen throughout the body, decreasing muscle cramps. It can also increase lymph flow, which is important in the elimination of metabolic waste from the system. Pregnant women also enjoy decreased inflammation while receiving regular massage during pregnancy. Increased serotonin helps kill aches and pains, and can also help with post-partum depression down the road. Regular massage has been shown to decrease labor pains as well.
Massage can only have these effects if it is received regularly. With each session, the body is learning to de-stress and let go of tension.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR SESSION
During the prenatal massage, the woman will not be asked to lay flat on her back or belly. Instead, she will be propped up into a half sitting, half laying position while the therapist works over the front of her body. Some massage therapists will lightly rub the belly with the mother’s permission. To do this, the breasts will be covered with a hand towel or pillow case while the sheet is pulled down to her waist. When the therapist is ready to work over the back side of her body, she will be asked to roll over onto her side, and she will be given a body pillow to cuddle.
HOW SAFE IS PRENATAL MASSAGE?
Despite all of the positive outcomes of massage, a pregnant woman should not receive hot stone massage during pregnancy. This is because heat from the stones can exacerbate swelling, heart conditions, and high blood pressure usually found in pregnant women.
Other than hot stones, massage is completely safe for an expectant mother. There is a common misconception that massage can induce labor causing premature births, or even cause miscarriage. There is no evidence behind this. Actually quite the opposite – women who received regular massage while pregnant were less likely to give birth prematurely, and had healthier babies.
Massage is a wonderful addition to prenatal care. It can have an amazing impact on the health of the mother and the baby. It is completely safe, and can make the experience of being pregnant much more pleasurable!