You may think of massage as a luxury to indulge in on occasion. But one of the most beneficial times for massage may be during pregnancy. A pregnancy massage typically lasts an hour. Some therapists use a pregnancy massage table. That's a table designed to accommodate a woman's pregnant belly. Others use specially designed pillows called bolsters to position a woman comfortably on her side. This helps especially during the later stages of pregnancy. Lying on your side is often the most comfortable position.
There are many benefits to having massage done during pregnancy. Pregnancy massage can lower your anxiety as you get closer to your due date; it can decrease back and leg pain while you are carrying the baby, help to improve sleep and also decrease levels of the stress hormones Norepinephrine and Cortisol. It can also increase levels of the feel good hormones Serotonin and Dopamine which helps to improve your mood. Massage can also help to improve your immune system and that of your baby.
Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce this collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of metabolic waste carried by the body’s lymph system.
Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women during pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus can spread tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on the muscles.
Women can begin massage therapy at almost any point during the second or third trimester of their pregnancy. Many facilities will refuse to offer massage to a woman who is still in her first trimester because of the increased statistics for miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is also a good idea to consult your doctor before receiving massage.