What You Need to Know About Massage & Pregnancy
Pregnancy massage is much more than just a luxurious way to spoil yourself -- although it can be that, too. Massage has a number of benefits during pregnancy, including:
- Reduced back and leg pain
- Relief from sciatica pain
- Improved sleep
- Lowered stress and stress hormones, like norephinephrine and cortisol
- Relief from anxiety
- Boosts in mood
- Increased levels of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine
Dr. Santjer recommends pregnancy massage after the first trimester because its effect on stress hormones can help lower the risk of pregnancy complications, including low birth weight. Massage during pregnancy can help improve your chances of delivering your child naturally. It can boost circulation and help with edema, the swelling that can occur when fluids accumulate in the joints during pregnancy. Pregnancy massage is a safe, effective, and drug-free way to treat many of the common physical complaints associated with pregnancy.
Multiple types of massage are considered safe during pregnancy. Some of the most common include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and shiatsu massage. Deep tissue massage involves firm strokes that apply pressure to the muscles. Shiatsu massage involves stimulating acupressure points, while Swedish massage employs long strokes designed to increase muscle mobility.
Pregnancy massage sessions typically last about an hour. Dr. Santjer may use a pregnancy massage table that can accommodate your pregnant belly, or may help you arrange yourself comfortably on your side using bolsters and cushions.
While pregnancy massage is safe, Dr. Santjer wants pregnant patients to know that there are some special considerations involved. For example, pregnant women are at an increased risk of blood clots in the legs. Blood volume experiences a drastic increase of about 50 percent during pregnancy, but the body struggles to maintain adequate circulation in the legs. Combine this with the body's increased production of natural anticoagulants, and blood clots are a real concern. Vigorous massaging of the legs during pregnancy can loosen blood clots. For this reason, Dr. Santjer massages the legs only lightly during pregnancy massage sessions.
For obvious reasons, Dr. Santjer will probably avoid massaging the abdomen at all during pregnancy. If the abdomen is massaged, only very light pressure will be applied. You may not be a good candidate for pregnancy massage if you are considered to be at a high risk of miscarriage, or at risk of preterm labor or placental abruption. You should probably also avoid pregnancy massage if you are experiencing morning sickness, or nausea and vomiting for other reasons. For most patients, massage is a great compliment to chiropractic during pregnancy.
Contact Atlantic Chiropractic and Rehab at (757) 547-4325 to schedule an appointment with our Chesapeake chiropractor, Dr. Eric Santjer.