What’s the difference between a regular massage and a prenatal massage? It’s not just that the patient is pregnant. The biggest difference is the modifications that are made to make sure the mother is comfortable and safe. To ensure this, you will most likely not lay on your stomach or back, neither of which is comfortable during pregnancy. Instead, you will lay on your side, and may be offered a pillow for support.
Don’t expect a deep tissue massage – this is usually avoided during pregnancy, along with potential trigger points around your ankles. Rest assured, your massage will be gentle and relaxing, which is exactly what you need as you experience the potential aches and pains of your body changing.
Tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women, prenatal massage aims to relax tense and sore muscles, improve circulation, increase mobility, and ease pregnancy-related pain.
Other benefits of prenatal massage include:
- Stabilized hormones
- Reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which can not only contribute to premature labour, but can also inhibit labour from progressing once it starts (some women find it helpful to be massaged during labour)
- Increase serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good mood regulators, which can help you during labour, and afterward, to avoid the baby blues or postpartum depression
- Better, more restful sleep, which can be more and more difficult to come by as your belly gets bigger (bonus: sleep also reduces stress)
- Increased circulation, which can reduce swelling and allow more nutrients and oxygen to flow to your baby
- Reduced pain and soreness from the discomfort of everyday activities
- Improved lower back pain, sciatica pain, and leg cramping, which can be common in pregnancy due to the ligaments in your pelvis relaxing and stretching
- More energy and alertness
- Strengthening immune system and alleviated headaches and sinus congestion during a time where you can’t take most over-the-counter medications
Take some time for yourself
You’re going to be busy once the baby arrives, and if you already have children, you know that getting away for a massage is a much-needed time to treat yourself. The physical benefits of prenatal massage are well known, but the mental and emotional benefits are equally important – so take care of yourself and your baby and schedule a prenatal massage.
Check with your doctor or midwife before going for a prenatal massage, particularly if you have a high-risk pregnancy, just to make sure it’s safe for you.