Massage During Pregnancy

Massage benefits pregnant women in numerous ways. It can decrease tension, increase circulation, reduce swelling of ankles and feet, and relieve low back pain, which the majority of pregnant women suffer from during gestation. Women who receive pregnancy massage recline on their back or their side, rather than the traditional face-down position. Often therapists will employ cushions or pillows to ensure a comfortable and safe massage session.

“I love the fact there are two people I’m massaging and not just one,” said Ashley Sacco, a Dreamclinic massage practitioner.

Studies indicate that massage during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve  labor outcomes and newborn health.

Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced as part of women’s prenatal care. It leads to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health. In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (hormones associated with stress) were reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression).

These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The cumulative evidence strongly suggests there are maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.

Sciatic nerve pain is commonly experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads 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 nearby muscles. Many women have experienced a significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through massage.

The Health Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

exercise during pregnancy, pregnancy massage, post-natal massage, pre-natal massage, Massage Therapy at Dreamclinic Massage and Wellness Seattle and RedmondExercising during pregnancy has great benefits – it can help prepare for labor, boost your energy, soothe pregnancy aches and pains, and help your body bounce back faster after childbirth. While most women know that exercise during pregnancy is safe, there are still a lot of questions floating around about what you can and can’t do. Is it okay to do crunches? How low should my heart rate be? Can I still run?

A good rule of thumb is to check with your healthcare provider first, and use your pre-pregnancy exercise routine as a guideline. If you exercised regularly before pregnancy and your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you can most likely continue working out as before, with some modifications. If you didn’t work out often before pregnancy, you can definitely start now, but start off small, like a 15-20 minute walk.

Exercising doesn’t have to be an intense, uncomfortable experience. Swimming a couple laps in the pool or walking around your neighborhood can still provide amazing health benefits. All that matters is that you’re moving.

Here are some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy:

Prevents back pain: Two-thirds of women experience back pain during pregnancy, but water workouts, yoga, and pelvic tilts can relieve this discomfort. Exercising during the second half of pregnancy seems to be especially effective.

Boosts energy: Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, so you don’t feel tired as easily. Pregnancy can sap your energy, but regular exercise will strengthen your muscles so you’ll need less effort to engage in daily activities.

Prepares for an easier labor: Moms who exercise tend to have shorter labors and are less likely to need medical intervention during labor, including C-sections.

Improves quality of sleep: Many pregnant women say that they have a harder time falling asleep, and staying asleep. Those who exercise consistently report their quality of sleep is better and they wake up feeling more rested.

Speeds postpartum recovery: The more you exercise during pregnancy, the faster you’ll recover physically after childbirth. Moms who exercise are more likely to socialize and enjoy new hobbies and entertainment post-baby.

Protects against gestational diabetes: Exercise may prevent this common problem, and the American Diabetes Association recommends moderate exercise as an effective prevention for women who are at risk. In fact, exercising can lower your risk for gestational diabetes by as much as 27%.

Now, you may be wondering what kind of exercise is best. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women can participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise everyday. The safest workouts are low impact – they are gentle on the joints and the body.

Here are three great workouts for expecting moms:

Walking: Taking a stroll is safe throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and is gentle on your knees and ankles.

Swimming: Swimming may be the best and safest exercise for pregnant women. It’s ideal because it works large muscle groups, like arms and legs, provides cardiovascular benefits, and allows moms-to-be feel weightless.

Yoga: Prenatal yoga classes help maintain flexibility and keep your joints limber. It’ll strengthen your muscles, improve circulation, and help you relax.

For the majority of women, exercising during pregnancy is perfectly safe and offers powerful health benefits. It can be a great way to meet other expectant moms and form friendships – walking around and catching up with a friend may not even feel like working out! Or, get creative – put on your favorite music and dance around the house while cooking or doing chores. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring!

photo credit:

Massage Supports Mothers through Pregnancy and Beyond

by Diana Khoury

During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through changes in physical form, structure, and internal function. While preparing for this important life change, pregnant women need physical and emotional support and are seeking it more often in the form of bodywork.

The March 2010 Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynecologystates, “Complementary and alternative therapies have become increasingly popular for pregnant women and women in labor…The most common alternative therapies recommended during pregnancy were massage therapy (61%), acupuncture (45%), relaxation (43%), yoga (41%) and chiropractic therapies (37%).”1
As a pregnancy progresses, the body’s weight shifts forward, putting more pressure on the legs and back to stay upright. Blood volume rises up to 50% over normal levels,2 amplifying pressure on the body’s major blood vessels.3 Due to the body’s increased blood volume and shift in alignment, circulation is not as efficient, especially in the legs. Collectively, these changes cause discomfort, pain, and added stress for the expectant mother.

The National Women’s Health Information Center estimates that 14% of women will encounter depression during or just after their pregnancy.4 Pregnant women experience depression due to changes in levels of dopamine and serotonin, important neurotransmitters that regulate mood. In studies, depression in pregnant women has been correlated to premature labor and low infant birth weight.1

Research conducted on expectant mothers with depression demonstrated that regular massage (as little as 20 minutes per week) increased serotonin and dopamine levels,  significantly reducing depression and anxiety. Decreases were also noted in heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.1 Lowered stress levels increased relaxation and improved sleep in pregnant women.5

According to the American Pregnancy Massage Association, “Massage prepares [the] body for delivery by helping increase elasticity and range of motion in the joints and muscles associated with childbirth. And by helping blood flow in the legs, massage can reduce the chances of edema, varicose veins and blood clots.”4 Massage has also been shown to relieve the pain of sciatica by reducing pressure on the muscles and nerves in the low back and legs.3

Research study participants who received massage regularly reported less pain in their back and legs during the weeks of pregnancy, and a shorter, less painful labor. In fact, in the massage group, labor duration was shortened by an average of 3 hours with a reduced need for pain medication.1

Massage can be sought at any time during a woman’s pregnancy, in cooperation with a prenatal plan established by a medical professional. A massage therapist (or trained partner) should focus on the areas of greatest tension, such as the back, while working within the mother’s pain tolerance. Light pressure may be used on the legs to encourage circulation and relieve pain. Little to no pressure should be applied to the abdomen, and extremely sensitive areas should be avoided.2

Research on massage and pregnancy confirms its effectiveness at relieving physical, mental and emotional tension during the prenatal period. Decreased stress and depression leads to increased bonding between mother and baby before, during and after birth. Massage can be a positive addition to prenatal care for both mother and baby, as well as an important source of physical and emotional support postpartum.

This is an original article from Dreamclinic, Inc. Dreamclinic is a Health and Wellness company committed to sharing information about commonly experienced health conditions and how they may be impacted through the use of bodywork and other natural approaches. Dreamclinic offers massage, acupuncture, and Reiki sessions at its Greenlake and Queen Anne clinics, as well as onsite massage at workplaces around Puget Sound. Contact us to learn more about how Dreamclinic can help you, your family or your workplace experience greater health.