Prenatal massage is massage therapy received while pregnant. Receiving regular massage therapy throughout your pregnancy can greatly reduce stress, promote relaxation, and facilitate the many transitions you’re body goes through by offering emotional support and physical nurturing. Massage reduces the negative effects of changes to the circulatory system, including edema, varicose veins, and blood pressure increases. It also helps with hormonal, respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary and other physiological processes happening during pregnancy. Regular massage sessions can help to alleviate musculoskeletal strain and pain, and contributes to developing flexibility and the kinsethic awareness necessary to actively participate in the birth process.
Want to learn more? Read below for more in-depth information on the benefits of prenatal massage!
Stress activates the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. This increases adrenal production of stress hormones, creating a freeze, fight or flight response. Because these reactions prioritize blood supply to the extremities over internal organs, stress can compromise circulation to the baby, perhaps as much as 65%, resulting in lower fetal heart rate and blood oxygenation. (Gorsuch and Key 1974)
In contrast to the effects of stress, support and relaxation activate the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. When relaxed, an expectant woman will have steadier blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rates; regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and baby; and healthier immune system functioning, emotional states, and responses to stressful stimuli, and she will feel less fearful and anxious. (Nichols and Humenick 2000)