Many of us may be familiar with the idea of massage helping us relax, however it’s benefits extend beyond this and massage is safe to receive for just about anyone. This includes during Pregnancy, from the first trimester onwards and even if you are overdue it’s not too late.
So how can massage therapy help?
It’s one of the recommendations The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) suggests might help to ease back pain in pregnancy. This can include relief of back, shoulder and neck pain or tension due to postural changes that that occur. As your Baby grows there is greater physical strain on the lower back as abdominal muscles get stretched and the curve in your lumbar spine becomes more noticeable. Pressure can be increased on the big Sciatic nerve with sharp pain, pins and needles running down your leg, this will affect one leg at a time so if this is something you are experiencing in both legs please see your GP. Growing breasts also present postural changes making you more likely to hunch over putting force through your neck and upper back muscles.
Other physical discomfort that show an improvement include swollen ankles as massage helps to stimulate circulation which can reduce fluids in swollen joints. The increased interstitial fluid can also be a contributing factor to pain or numbness in the hand or wrist and carpal tunnel syndrome. Relief can also be given if tingling of the hand and arm occurs as a result of compression of nerves or blood vessels in the neck.
Not only can pregnancy massage be physically beneficial, but the human touch can be comforting and provide emotional support during your pregnancy. Massage during pregnancy can increase energy levels but most importantly when you are relaxed you may find that your sleep improves. Massage is shown to increase the time spent in deep sleep, the restorative stage and can help boost your immunity. Sounds too good to be true but massage encourages the release of Oxytocin which is a pain reducing hormone providing vital relief of pain during labour and birth. Babies can also benefit greatly from massage as the “feel good” endorphins released by the mother during the massage are passed onto the baby. Hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (stress hormones) are reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression), helping women suffering from pre-natal depression.
So this all sounds great but how do I receive a massage with a bump?
To receive a back massage only minor adaptations are needed during the first trimester but from 12 weeks massages are given lying on your side, fully supported with pillows enabling you to receive a therapy that provides physical and emotional support which can be incorporated into your routine care. Please feel free to e-mail or call if you would like to know more or find out how massage can help you. (Either mine or centres contact / which ever best)
…and finally some simple stretches that can help you if you are experiencing night cramps.
Try this with your knees bent and then again with your leg straight, this way you get to stretch two different muscles. Have a towel or band around the ball of your foot to create gentle resistance or get a friend or partner to help. Have toes flexed in the direction of your nose, attempt to point your toes against the resistance for 5 seconds. Release and repeat twice more. Nutritional advice may help the cramps too.