The benefits of pregnancy massage cannot be understated. While most mothers-to-be dream of a positive birthing experience, the reality can be quite far from what we imagine. Bringing new life into the world can be exciting and terrifying. It’s an incredible thing to create new life and, naturally, it has its fair share of ugly moments.
It’s during the harder times that mothers-to-be are put under the most strain. Growing a new human inside of your body is awesome and bizarre. You’re eating for two, resting for two, exercising for two. You body is no longer just yours – it’s a shared home for you and bub. Pregnancy puts enormous strain on the body. Simple things become more difficult, like moving around, eating certain foods and getting enough sleep.
Pregnancy massage provides a natural way to place power back in the mother’s hands. Pregnancy massage can also make the labour experience more bearable by offering support for the woman through every contraction. Plus, the calm, strong, healing hands of a train pregnancy massage therapist provides reassurance and rest when and where needed. But just how is that possible?
Let us consider some outstanding benefits of pregnancy massage when it comes to relieving labour pain.
1. Releases Endorphins.
Pregnancy massage stimulates the body’s release of endorphins, which are chemicals produced by the pituitary gland. These act as a natural painkillers and provide welcome relief from labour pain, stimulating a positive outlook on the whole experience.
A proper massage technique that applies trigger-point therapy and acupressure will generate production of these compound that is associated with a general sense of euphoria. Pregnancy or pre-natal massage is designed with this in mind. It is unlike any other form of massage therapy, however it does use elements of other styles. Elements of deep tissue, Swedish and lymphatic drainage can be use during a pregnancy massage, all working to stimulate these positive brain chemicals that relieve pain and evoke peaceful feelings.
The benefits of pregnancy massage, or of any massage, are not just physical. Pain relief is mental relief as well, and pregnancy massage has a soothing effect on the mother’s nervous system. An elevated mood reduces a labouring mother’s perception of pain and makes the experience less strenuous. We know that labour is…laborious, and sometimes it lasts hours. Nobody dreams of a miserable labour story, so booking a pregnancy massage to help ease you labour will help to ensure that the overall experience is as pleasant and exciting as it should be.
2. Regulates Hormones
Another of the benefits of pregnancy massage is that it produces and regulates neurohormones that make the labour experience less painful. Scientific evidence backs up the claims that it raises the levels of happy-brain chemicals while lowering stress-producing chemicals.
High anxiety and stress levels usually lead to increased pain perception during childbirth. High levels of stress, anxiety, panic, nerves, or any other negative emotion enhances our senses as it engages our “fight or flight” reaction. Our bodies are vulnerable when they are tense or stressed, and so we are more prone to feeling pain. Therefore, when the negative hormones are regulated and the positive ones elevated, a woman is more likely to have a less painful birthing experience.
Since stress enhances our sense, our sense of touch is also enhanced. This is why pregnancy massage can be so effective. An affective touch encourages the body to be calm which, in turn, calms the mind. The benefits of pregnancy massage are best felt when the expecting mum is most in need of them, such as when stress levels are high.
3. Relaxes Muscles
Labour raises anxiety levels. Even people who have never, or will never, experience labour, have some fear or anxiety surrounding it. So naturally, when you are actually going through it, you are going to feel all kinds of emotions. Labour is very much the rollercoaster woman describe it as being.
Muscles tend to tense up when a person goes through anxiety. Tense muscles make the body tire more easily and resist the movements associated with childbirth. The tension also spreads to other body parts that should remain loose and relaxed during the process. Tired muscles make the mind tire out and lead to heightened awareness of pain and a lowered capacity to cope. This is why midwives always insist that you “just relax” and “keeping breathing”. Relaxed muscles don’t feel pain as much as tight muscles.
When all other muscles are relaxed and only the uterus contracts, a mother experiences significantly less discomfort. The pain becomes less of an exhausting whole-body experience and just begins to focus on the one area that it required to work the hardest. Thus, pregnancy massage leads to overall calm in the labouring mother.
The effect is that she experiences reduced muscle tension and increased flexibility. This makes it easier for the birth canal to open up to accommodate the baby’s movements. The low resistance means less pain for the mother and speeds up the process.
4. Decreases The Need For Medical Intervention
Research has shown that mothers who go through massage therapy are less likely to require medicinal intervention in the course of labour because massage triggers the natural body processes required for a smooth childbirth experience.
When conducted by an experienced therapist, this type of massage stimulates contractions. That reduces the need an epidural or any other drug associated with labour induction. Induced labour tends to be a lot more painful as compared to the natural process. That is because it initiates contractions before the body prepares itself.
Natural labour takes a few days to develop, and by the time it hits high gear, the cervix is often soft and open. Additionally, contractions in natural labour come at varied intervals and allow the woman time to rest from one to the next. Massage will, therefore, offer welcome relief by letting the body ease into the process and keeping it regulated meaning less pain for the mother.
Back in “the olden days”, midwives of this age were trained to manipulate the body to ensure that the expecting woman’s body was as calm as possible. A calm, relaxed body was far more likely to result in an uncomplicated labour, which considering the mortality rate of mothers and children was higher prior to modern medicine, was very important.
5. Aids Breathing
During labour, the shoulders and neck carry the most tension, which leads to inhibited breathing. This places a strain on the amount of oxygen in circulation for the mother and her baby. Pregnancy massage will ease this tension and help the mother breathe much better.
Controlled breathing is known to be one of the most effective pain relievers, especially during active labour. The increased oxygen levels make you feel better and make a smoother process. At the same time, it helps to reduce tension and anxiety. Focusing on breathing provides a welcome distraction from the sensation of a contraction.
It is easy to practice a controlled breathing pattern during prenatal massage. A relaxed mother has a more positive outlook and reacts better to pain. The result is a calming effect and additional strength. This helps to make better use of contractions to push the baby out.
6. Over-rides Pain Signals
Gate control theory of pain stipulates that the transmission of painful sensations through the nervous system to the brain can be altered or inhibited using other nerve fibres. In simple terms, this means that the right kind of stimulation can interfere with painful signals. Pregnancy massage takes advantage of this theory to relieve labour pain.
Studies show that the body uses a gateway system that allows it to override the pain signals with pleasure from the massage experience. A combination of enhanced sense, an experienced, comforting touch, and a deep-seated craving for relief transmits massage signals faster to the brain than pain does. This is because we naturally attach ourselves to pain relief the moment it is felt. It is instinctual to flee pain.
When this happens, a woman perceives the childbirth experience as less harrowing and more positive. This does not only reduce pain perception but also speeds up the process as the body is more open to the experience.
The childbirth process does not have to be a scary experience. Proper preparation and relaxation techniques make it more positive and less dreadful. The above are just a few of the numerous benefits of pregnancy massage with regard to labour pain. Mothers who experience pregnancy massage register fewer complaints and give birth to healthier babies. Their labour processes are less likely to result in complications.