A word from Aya Soda our Remedial and Pregnancy Massage Therapist
Pregnancy Massage or Prenatal massage is specialist therapeutic bodywork that focuses on the needs of the mother as her body goes through the dramatic changes during the stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy massage aims to enhance the function of muscles and joints, improves circulation and relieves mental and physical fatigue (Vincent 2008). This provides a relief and can ease discomfort which helps the to-be-mother prepare for labour.
Over the past ten years, the field of pregnancy massage has been widely researched. Current literature and clinical studies reveal a link between pregnancy massage and a reduction in prenatal depression (Field et al. 2008). As a massage practitioner, I often see benefits associated with pregnancy massage and reduction in my clients overall stress levels.
Around ten years ago, a study was conducted where eighty-four women with prenatal depression were recruited in the second trimester of their pregnancy and randomly assigned to a massage therapy group, a progressive muscle relaxation group or a control group (Field et al. 2004). This trial also not only saw results during the pregnancy but also showed improvements after birth. In addition, newborns of the mothers related to the study, were also less likely to be born prematurely, they had improved cortisol levels and performed better in orientation and motor scales tests (Field et al. 2009)
Benefits for the Body and Mind
The benefits of prenatal massage include a wide range of both physical and emotional elements. Some of the benefits include increases in blood circulation, which provides more oxygen and nutrients to both mother and baby and stimulates the lymph system, increasing immunity and removal of toxins (Vincent 2008). During a number of trials, Pregnancy Massage was also found to increase the mother’s dopamine and serotonin levels and lower their levels of cortisol and norepinephrine (Field et al. 2004). This suggests that depressed pregnant women and their offspring can benefit from massage therapy by a reduction in cortisol with a healthier outcomes after birth.
Baes on my own observations, Pregnancy Massage also assists in remedying many of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as:
lower and upper-back pain
cramps, tension, stiffness and knots
heartburn and acid reflux,
sacroiliac and hip joint pain
During my time studying and working as a remedial massage therapist, I have treated a large number of clients in all stages of their pregnancy. Working with pregnant women is very rewarding as I can see the improvements after treatment and aim to improve their quality of life.
Field, T, Diego, M, Hernandez-Reif, M, Deeds, O & Figueiredo, B 2009, 'Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birthweight and postpartum depression', Infant Behavior and Development, vol. 32, no. 4, 2009/12/01/, pp. 454-460.
Field, T, Diego, MA, Hernandez-Reif, M, Schanberg, S & Kuhn, C 2004, 'Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women', Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, vol. 25, no. 2, 2004/01/01, pp. 115-122.
Field, T, Figueiredo, B, Hernandez-Reif, M, Diego, M, Deeds, O & Ascencio, A 2008, 'Massage therapy reduces pain in pregnant women, alleviates prenatal depression in both parents and improves their relationships', Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, vol. 12, no. 2, 2008/04/01/, pp. 146-150.