Youaï¿½ï¿½re pregnant and, chances are, youaï¿½ï¿½re uncomfortable. Thanks to your new-found “posture,” you have stress on your back, neck and shouldersaï¿½ï¿½not to mention the nightly search for a comfortable sleeping position. Perhaps itaï¿½ï¿½s time to indulge. A prenatal massage is just what the doula ordered.
Though there are only a handful of studies on prenatal massage, the suggested benefits are staggering. From lowering anxiety to easing discomfort, prenatal massage is earning its stripes among the medical community. In fact, a recent study from the University of Miami suggests that prenatal massage can:
- Lessen anxiety
- Ease leg and back pain
- Enhance sleep
- Lower the level of stress hormones
Meanwhile, additional studies have found prenatal massage can increases the bodyaï¿½ï¿½s levels of serotonin and dopamineaï¿½ï¿½”feel-good” hormones. When taken together, these benefits are impressive, to say the least!
As youaï¿½ï¿½ve undoubtedly realized, pregnancy changes everything. This is one of the main reasons Stacy Wooster, a licensed prenatal massage therapist and doula, champions prenatal massage. Stacy says that it helps ease women through this transition, while offering a quiet space and the opportunity “to go within.” And, more importantly, “It restores balance to the body,” she says. And, in this world, balance is priceless.
Though prenatal massage can reduce stress and promote wellness, a number of contraindications should be considered before you make your first appointment. Hereaï¿½ï¿½s a quick-and-dirty guide to contraindicated massage modalities:
Deep-tissue, shiatsu, cross-fiber, and percussive tapping: Pregnancy disrupts normal blood circulation and places you at a higher risk of developing blood clots. Unfortunately, some techniques can dislodge these clots. For this reason, only gentle pressure is indicated during a pregnancy.
Acupuncture and reflexology: Acupuncture or reflexology of pressure points associated with the ovaries, uterus, cervix, abdomen, intestine, spleen and bladder are discouraged.
Range of motion: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) suggest that moms-to-be avoid range of motion exercises and certain yoga poses.
Aromatherapy and essential oils: Aromatherapy and essential oils are contraindicated thanks, in part, to your new-found sense of smell. Why? It leaves you prone to nausea.
Breast stimulation: If youaï¿½ï¿½re at risk for pre-term labor, breast stimulation should be avoided, as it can induce uterine contractions.
Vasotec overdose treatment Improper positioning: Stacy finds traditional massage tables with a “belly cut-out” troubling, as they place undue stress on the ligaments that support the uterus. Sideline positioning with supportive pillows and cushions is ideal.
The NCCAM advises that you consult with your physician before trying a prenatal massage. Talk to your doctor, midwife, and even friends to see if this is right for you. And, when youaï¿½ï¿½re ready, chose a massage therapist who has specific training experience in prenatal massage.
Stacy Wooster is a licensed massage therapist, certified doula, certified yoga instructor and holds a bachelor degree from Texas A&M University.