When I was pregnant one thing I did almost every month was indulge in a prenatal massage. When you’re feeling large and in charge, extra *tired* and your feet feel like they’re about pop out your socks, a prenatal massage can give you some serious relief and TLC. There are so many wonderful benefits regular massages already, and the benefits just pile on even more when it comes to helping our aching pregnant backs and feet.
I asked Konstantine Varvaris, a lead massage therapist with Exhale in NYC, exactly what type of benefits pregnant gals get from prenatal massage, and if it could even help with impending labor. Read on to learn why you should be booking your massage ASAP!
1. Prenatal massage has not only physical benefits, but mental benefits as well.
Varvaris explains, “The psychological benefits include reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep patterns, higher endorphin levels and relaxation. Prenatal massage may also help women postpartum as well as their infants because after birth, mothers diagnosed with depression who had prenatal massage, showed higher interaction and improved motor skills than those infants whose mothers did not have prenatal massage. This is likely due to the reduced result of cortisol, a stress hormone, which, during pregnancy, has been known to impede development and impair fetal growth.”
2. It can relieve hip and leg discomfort.
One of the major complaints many pregnant women have is pain in their hips and legs. According to Varvaris prenatal massage helps relieve leg cramps and varicose veins, helps with tightness, flexibility, and increases blood flow and oxygen to these areas as well.
3. Prenatal massage could help make your labor easier.
Did you know that this type of massage can even help you ease into labor and have less complications? Varvaris informs us that prenatal massage “Can lower the odds of both premature birth and low birth weight, and may help women who are suffering from prenatal depression.”
4. It can help with hormone regulation.
Varvaris says, “Recent studies have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered with prenatal massage. It leads to improved cardiovascular activity and mood. In another study, women who received bi-weekly massages for five weeks showed a reduction in levels of cortisol and norepinephrine, hormones associated with stress and increased levels of dopamine and serotonin, hormones associated with happiness. These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth, such as low birth weight.”
5. It can reduce swelling.
One thing all pregnant women could agree on that they’d like to reduce? Swelling! According to Varvaris, “Swelling, otherwise known as Edema, of the joints during pregnancy are often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on blood vessels and the strain and weight of carrying the baby. Massage helps to reduce the swelling by improving circulation and the removal of tissue waste by the body’s lymphatic drainage system.”
6. Prenatal massage can help prevent sciatica.
Hate those shooting pains down your legs? That pesky nerve pain is called sciatica, and it affects many pregnant women. Varvaris informed us that prenatal massage can help many women who suffer from sciatic nerve pain throughout their pregnancies, especially during the last trimester. She explains that sciatic nerve pain is “caused by the baby resting on the pelvic muscle and lower back. This pressure spreads tension to the upper and lower leg causing swelling which puts pressure on nearby nerves causing pain and discomfort. Prenatal massage helps to release this tension by working the surrounding muscles to alleviate the pressure on the nerves and significantly reducing the pain and discomfort.”
As if you could have even MORE of a reason to head on over to a spa like Exhale to indulge in a prenatal massage, this gives you that extra push to pamper yourself before you little bundle of joy enters the world.