By Anna Lynn Sibal
Pregnancy is an interesting period in a woman's life. It is a happy time, certainly, because the act of giving birth to new life gives most women an immense sense of purpose and fulfillment. However, even though most women choose to focus on the bright side of being pregnant, it cannot be denied that pregnancy is a very stressful time for a woman, probably the most stressful period she will ever experience in her life.
Photo © Noriko Cooper
The changes alone in a woman's body can be too much to handle. A woman who has been pregnant before or a person who has lived with a pregnant woman previously would know just how hard it is. The first few months of the pregnancy alone entails morning sickness and disorientation. As she waits out the nine months prior to giving birth, she will have experienced various sorts of pain and discomfort – nausea, back pain, neck pain, varicose veins, swelling of the legs and feet, fatigue and constant sleepiness. The circulation of the blood is hampered and the body’s movements are limited.
Prenatal massage helps a woman through this interesting and difficult time of pregnancy. Pregnant women need and deserve to be pampered and comforted as much as they can, and prenatal massage does exactly this for her. On one level, prenatal massage soothes and relaxes the pregnant woman’s sore, aching and burdened muscles. On another level, prenatal massage helps improve the usually delicate health of a woman carrying a child in her womb, as well as to enhance her well-being. The baby in the woman’s womb also benefits much in prenatal massage. Prenatal massage is said to make the fetus healthier and more comfortable inside its mother’s body.
How does prenatal massage help? Just as in any massage, prenatal massage loosens and relaxes the pregnant woman’s muscles. It also helps improve the circulation of blood in her body. Most importantly, prenatal massage helps to increase the flexibility of the pregnant woman’s body so that her labor and delivery would be easier and less painful for her.
Prenatal massage is done during pregnancy, but there are also some women who ask for their massage therapist to be present while they are undergoing labor. During labor, the massage is given to the mother-in-waiting while she is lying on her side or on her belly, with her body supported by a pregnancy pillow. Oftentimes, soft music is played on the background while the massage is being administered to the mother in labor so as to soothe her nerves and to lessen the pain of childbirth. It is proven that mothers who have undergone prenatal massage during their pregnancy and while at labor have an easier time of giving birth.
Prenatal massage is also helpful after the birth. The massage is supposed to bring back the balance into the woman’s body, which has been disrupted by her pregnancy. It also helps improve the elasticity of her skin, which has been stretched by pregnancy, as well as to bring back her muscle tone. Moreover, massage aids the mother through possible post-partum depression.
It is to be noted that prenatal massage is not suited to all pregnant mothers. Some may go through it, while others must not. It is therefore important for a gestating woman to ask her obstetrician if she can have prenatal massage and if it is going to be safe for her. Most massage therapists specializing in prenatal massage also require a physician’s recommendation before administering massage to a pregnant woman. It is always better for a pregnant woman to be on the safe side before doing anything to her body.