I’m pretty much a sucker for a massage all the time (It’s my favorite form of self care.) but especially during pregnancy. I couldn’t imagine getting through the stresses, aches and pains of pregnancy without a good massage therapist, so when fellow mom, Jenny Silverstone from the blog MomLovesBest, offered up some helpful information on the benefits of prenatal massage I was all in (not that you have to convince me of the benefits LOL). But if you’ve been on the fence as to whether a massage can help you during pregnancy, here’s your proof!
Here’s what Jenny had to say . . .
You’re feeling stressed, tired, overworked, and worried. Welcome to pregnancy! It’s not always the cake walk people paint it out to be.
Sure, you’re excited to meet your baby and you love certain moments, like feeling your baby move. But why does pregnancy have to include so many aches and pains too?
If you’re looking for something to take the edge off of your discomfort, prenatal massage might be your answer.
Banish Back Pain
Are you ever totally going to vanquish back pain when you’re pregnant? Nope. Unfortunately, it’s going to rear its ugly head at various times in mid-to-late pregnancy.
Back pain can make it harder to sleep. And if you have a desk job that requires sitting, it may never feel like you’ll get any relief.
But you can stop it from crippling you as much by getting prenatal massages. One study showed that getting two 30-minute massages a week for six weeks resulted in less pain for pregnant women in the study.
If getting professional massages seems out of your reach financially, you can ask your partner to massage your back. After all, you’re doing all the heavy lifting — this is a good way for them to do their part.
Cut Back on Swelling
When I was pregnant, I turned into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Suddenly, everything started to swell, especially in that last trimester. I tried to laugh it off, but it was a terrible feeling to have legs that were the size of tree trunks.
Swelling is a fact of life for many pregnant women, particularly in their ankles and feet. It happens because you are retaining water and the extra pressure from your bigger-than-normal belly causes your blood flow to slow down to and from your heart. And, of course, those pregnancy hormones don’t help the matter either.
Prenatal massage helps by aiding your circulation, which helps to drain the excess fluids that make you swell up to blimp-like proportions.
Release the Feel-Good Hormones
Our bodies produce all kinds of hormones. Some aren’t our favorite, like cortisol, which can mess with our menstrual cycle and moods when the levels are too high. But other hormones, like oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, we welcome with open arms.
Those are the feel-good hormones that make you feel happy, relaxed, and peaceful. It’s like getting a runner’s high without having to put in the effort of logging all those miles.
Pregnancy is exciting, but it’s also incredibly hard at times. There is so much to worry about.
You’re often getting less sleep and what you do get isn’t as high quality as you’re used to. There’s a lot of restless nights trying to find a comfortable position. That lack of sleep can contribute to your depression, as can your worries about medical testing and any kind of complications, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.
Massage can help with depression by promoting relaxation and those feel-good hormones we mentioned in the last section.
There is no shortage of stress during pregnancy. Even thinking about money can stress you out. There are so many expenses with pregnancy and being a parent — you need baby gear, money for medical bills, and enough set aside that you can afford your maternity leave.
Then there are the other stresses you’ll face as well — physical stress from your changing body, health concerns, and worrying whether everything is going right for your baby.
You need something that can calm you and take you out of your overthinking. That’s where prenatal massage comes in. It can reduce cortisol, your stress hormone, and plus, it just feels good.
Get Better Sleep
Prenatal massage is so relaxing that just for that reason alone, you’ll feel like you can sleep better. Along with the lower cortisol levels, you’ll experience and the relief in the physical pains you’re going through, you’ll have an easier time nodding off to sleep and perhaps even staying asleep for longer.
An Easier Labor
There’s no guarantee that regular massage therapy during pregnancy will give you shorter, uncomplicated labor, but studies show that is the benefit for many women.
In some studies, the women who have had regular massages experience less pain during labor, have less of a need for medication and had a shorter labor time by an average of three hours. Shortening labor just by doing something that feels good anyway? Sign me up!
Let the Benefits Rub Off On You
While massage isn’t a magic anecdote for having a healthy pregnancy, it can give you a boost in that direction. At the very least, you’ll enjoy yourself when you’re getting rubbed and pampered.
Now’s the time to indulge in some treatments that make you feel good. Your body and mind are going through so much right now that you can use the break.
About the Author
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, and an editor for the parenting blog Mom Loves Best. Jenny is passionate about fitness, good food, and helping other moms stay healthy during pregnancy.