Usually, a massage is thought as a luxury or something that one gets on a special occasion. Actually, one of the best times to get a massage may be during pregnancy. A pregnancy massage can be any time during or after pregnancy (prenatal or postnatal massage).
A typical pregnancy massage lasts an hour and some therapists may use a pregnancy massage table, a table that is specially designed to accommodate a woman’s pregnant belly. Other practitioners may use pillows called bolsters that are designed 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.
Only a handful of small studies have focused on massage in pregnancy. No definite benefits have been established. But one study at the University of Miami School of Medicine suggests that massage therapy might have multiple positive effects, including:
- Lowered anxiety
- Decreased back and leg pain
- Improved sleep
- Decreased levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine
Massage therapy during pregnancy is a wonderful complementary choice for prenatal care. It is a healthy way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness. Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (or swelling).
In addition, massage for pregnant women reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, encourages blood and lymph circulation, helps to relax nervous tension — which aids in better sleep — and can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes.