Make Pregnancy Easier
The aptly-named Relaxin is a hormone secreted during pregnancy that is necessary to accommodate a growing baby. It helps to make tendons, joints and ligaments move more freely than when not pregnant. It also plays a role in the softening and lengthening of the cervix.
And while this sounds quite positive, there’s a drawback to all this relaxation – it can actually cause an overall feeling of instability, and this is what brings on many of the painful and uncomfortable conditions associated with pregnancy – all of which can benefit from prenatal massage. They include:
- Lower back pain
- Pregnancy headaches
- Fallen arches
- Calf cramping
- Swollen hands and feet
Prenatal massage has also been known improve skin elasticity, prevent stretch marks and improve blood and lymph circulation.
Comfortable positioning for prenatal massage is essential. Often, this will be a side or semi-reclining position that makes use of pillows and cushioning systems for optimal comfort. Lying on your back is not recommended past the first trimester.
The level of pressure applied all depends on what is comfortable for the patient but generally, a gentle, yet firm level is advised. As well, not all areas of the body are recommended for massage when pregnant. Pressure points to be avoided include wrists and ankles because they have the ability to stimulate pelvic and uterine muscles, which, in turn, can cause contractions. Abdominal massage is also avoided during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy for the safety of the growing baby. Key areas that women often need relief are shoulders, legs and lower back. Prenatal massage is not recommended for those with a high-risk pregnancy.