Some people still think Massage Therapy, sometimes called Therapeutic Bodywork, is a luxury for those who lead pampered lives. This is not the case. In fact, the maternity care of many poorer cultures uses massage techniques as a central role, and with amazing results. The cultures which incorporate massage into their health care enjoy many benefits. In Mexico, the midwife visits the woman regularly throughout her entire pregnancy and massages her using special techniques. This helps to increase circulation, align the baby and womb, and relax the woman. She also receives special massage treatments after the baby is born, this time for the purpose of aiding her recovery postpartum. Massage is also a part of the maternity care programs in Samoa, Japan, and Malaysia. The Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study by Fields in 1999 demonstrating that regular massage during pregnancy results in:
Reduced back pain
Improved sleep patterns
Reduced leg pain
Reduced stress hormone levels
Fewer complications during labor
Fewer complications for infants following birth
Evidence shows that pregnant women who receive massage in pregnancy have shorter, easier labors, less pain, better recoveries, and less incidence of postpartum depression. Massage helps to lessen migraine headache symptoms, alleviate back, muscle stiffness, increase blood flow and circulation, lymph function, endorphin production by the body, and much more. Massage therapy also helps to lower blood pressure in some cases, lessen muscle spasms and cramps, and improve overall skin health and function. There are so many benefits to massage and almost no side effects or contraindications.
How to know if massage may be right for you? If you are pregnant and have been experiencing a healthy pregnancy with no risk of preterm labor, clots in veins, or vaginal bleeding, you may benefit from a gentle massage from a qualified and experienced practitioner.
How to find a practitioner? Word of mouth is the best way to locate a talented massage therapist. Be sure to ask about their training and experience treating pregnant women. If a woman is in her second or third trimester and can no longer lie comfortably on her stomach, most massage therapists would have her lie on her side and use pillows to help support her back, knees, and arms. If a woman has been experiencing back pain, or any other muscle soreness or stiffness, a soothing massage can really help her to relax and feel refreshed, releasing tension and giving the woman considerable relief from the normal physical stresses of pregnancy.
Many women receive regular massage as part of a weekly or monthly routine. These women report better health, less physical pain and discomfort, better sleep patterns, less anxiety, and a greater sense of well-being. Getting a massage is also a great way for a woman to love and nurture herself. As women, many of us struggle with making time for ourselves, caring for our own needs. We can strive to be able to give ourselves one hour on the massage table to relax and rejuvenate our bodies. It will likely increase our overall effectiveness and peace of mind.
Tags: midwifery care, prenatal care, pregnancy, midwife, pregnant, womens health