Pregnancy causes significant physiological, structural and emotional changes in mothers-to-be. As exciting as this time of joyful expectation is, fluctuating hormone levels and the growth of the baby can sometimes cause uncomfortable symptoms. For instance, pregnant women may experience episodes of pain, nausea, sleeplessness, heartburn, headaches, anxiety and depression. Medications may interfere with the baby’s development, so they are usually contraindicated during pregnancy. Fortunately, complementary and alternative therapies such as massage therapy and acupuncture are safe throughout all stages of pregnancy and can offer effective, natural relief.
How Can Massage Therapy Help with Pregnancy Symptoms?
In addition to encouraging overall wellness and relaxation, massage therapy can be effective in managing specific pregnancy symptoms. Registered massage therapy may help pregnant women with diminished anxiety and depression, reduced headaches, water retention (edema), nerve dysfunction (sciatica) and general muscle tension, improved mood, better sleep and less back and pelvic pain.
At Remedy Wellness Centre we have a custom pregnancy pillow that allows you to lay face down comfortably and safely. We can also put you on your side with pillows if that is more comfortable.
Massage Therapy for Natural Hormone Regulation
Massage therapy can have a substantial impact on a pregnant woman’s biochemistry. Studies have found statistically significant decreases in pregnant women’s stress hormone levels (catecholamines and cortisol) and increase in “happy hormone” levels (serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin) post-massage, as tested by both salivary gland and urinary samples. Since elevated cortisol level are linked to premature deliveries, it follows that reduced cortisol levels could contribute to a reduction in premature births. Massage therapy’s mitigating influence on stress hormones can also have positive effects on prenatally depressed women (and their babies), who have characteristically high levels of cortisol. Furthermore, oxytocin, a hormone released from the pituitary gland, causes a noticeable relaxation response. Interestingly, the Greek root words of oxytocin mean “quick birth,” due to the hormone’s uterine-contracting properties. In addition, serotonin is known to reduce leg, pelvic and low back pain, which trouble almost three quarters of pregnant women.
Further clinical research confirms that women who receive regular pre-natal massage therapy do, in fact, have faster labour, lower rates of premature birth, normalised fetal activity, and fewer complications during labour; their infants had fewer post-natal complications and better neonatal outcome, including birth weight than women who received only standard prenatal care. Additional research has noted that pregnant women who had received regular massage, of their feet specifically, throughout their third trimesters had significantly decreased swelling and edema.
Adams, Jewel D. “Massage And Other CAM In Pregnancy.” International Journal Of Childbirth Education 27.3 (2012): 37-42.
Bongaard, Bridget S. “Is Massage Beneficial For Pregnant Women And Their Infants?.” Alternative Medicine Alert 10.12 (2007): 133-136.
Briggs, Josephine P. “The Use Of CAM In The Childbearing Year.” International Journal Of Childbirth Education 27.3 (2012): 14-15. Biomedical Reference Collection: Comprehensive.
Field T, Diego MA, et al., J Psychosum Obstet Gynaecol. 2004 Jun; 25 (2): 115- 22.