Pregnancy – the beauty, the changes.
Pregnancy, what a glorious time in a woman’s life; a true miracle and blessing.
Why after millions of years of women being pregnant and giving birth is it still such a wondrous miraculous experience? For newly expectant mothers (and their partners) it is often as if they are the first to be experiencing this.
You are literally creating and carrying new life!! You have a new shape with purpose and it is perfectly feminine. You glow! You will usually put on weight and, finally, have a damn good reason to do so! Your body is doing what it must to keep you healthy and nourish your baby too, as mother nature has done for eons, ensuring your baby’s survival.
I personally have not been through this magical time (yet) and I’m sure every woman has her different view on it; however, no matter how lovely the idea of pregnancy, I’m sure it’s not all roses and pink powder puffs. But as an onlooker it is still truly beautiful.
I’m one of five children, and have often listened to my mother talk about the joys of her pregnancies and subsequent births. She was blessed with easy pregnancies and births, but makes no secret of the difficulties and discomforts either. She laments that pregnancy massage was not available when she was pregnant with me and my siblings.
Pregnancy wellness is an area I am growing increasingly interested in; not just because of my obvious affinity to this stage of life, but because as a therapist pregnancy massage is my favourite type. My client base in this niche market is growing so rapidly and organically, and it’s difficult to keep up!
It seems like a natural progression that I begin to specialise in this area – from yoga to massage. I have been reading literature written for mid-wives, and am purchasing luxurious pregnancy massage cushions for your added comfort. They allow the ever-expanding mother to lie on her tummy, right up until full-term! I have used a similar cushion when practicing in Australia (a number of years ago) and had wonderful results and the most rewarding feedback. There are some schools of thought that advise side-lying as best. This is more relevant to pregnancy massage tables where the belly is accommodated by a hollow in the table – the difficulty with this is that the pelvic ligaments are over-stretched. With the pregnancy-cushion the belly and the ligaments of the pelvis are fully supported and the expectant mother will experience the heavenly relief of lying prone for her blissful hour of massage.
Benefits of pregnancy massage
Massage reduces muscular aches and pains.
The body is changing shape, and from all this shifting and stretching we often find lower back pain and leg pain during pregnancy. Massage therapy relieves your body of this dis-comfort by relaxing the muscles and increasing the nourishing blood flow to these areas to aid in your bodies own healing process.
Massage alleviates depression and anxiety
It is proven that regular massage during pregnancy significantly decreases chances of depression and anxiety, not only during pregnancy but onward to the postpartum period. In turn newborns are less likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth-weight (75% lower prematurity rate and an 80% lower incidence of low birth-weight)
The stress hormone cortisol is significantly reduced in both mother and new-born – so we have calm and happy mothers and calm stress-free little’uns.
Massage can abate labor pain and longevity!
In a study woman who received massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and labors were on average 3-hours shorter with less need for medication!
Some suggest that massage effects can be explained by the ‘gate theory’. This is a kind of metaphor for the pain message traveling more slowly than the pressure message from massage. Pressure messages travel more rapidly than pain messages, reaching the brain faster and closing the gate to the pain message.
Another theory is that medium-pressure-massage increases vagal activity. The vagal nerve controls activity occurring within the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). Where the Sympathetic nervous system gives rise to a liberation of energy, the PNS is usually more concerned with slowing and conserving energy – it helps digestion, storing of energy, cellular replenishment and reproduction. So, increased vagal activity results in the activation of the PNS meaning decreased heart rate, lowered cortisol, and increased tissue replenishment and growth.
Massage therapy also increases cerebral flow in different parts of the brain. One area of importance being the hypothalamus which governs the hormones released for stress regulation and depression.
My personal experience as a massage therapist and summary
In my personal experiences with woman, I have seen improved sleep, diminished anxiety and depression, immediate and on-going relief of aches and pains, reduced swelling and an overall new sense of well-being and energy.
It seems to make perfect sense that at a time when a woman is giving so much of her body to grow and nourish a new human-being, that she too should be nourished and cared for in the very best way, and in a way that supports her for the responsibilities that lie ahead, when baby finally arrives.
For me, it is truly a special time, an honor to be part of, and to be able to share my skills to make the miraculous (but undoubtedly, demanding) experience of pregnancy and childbirth a little special and a little more comfortable.
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