Prenatal Massage Therapy

Prenatal Massage Therapy

The prenatal months are a sacred time in a mother and baby's lives, full of changes, questions, new experiences and heightened awareness. Pregnant mothers experience many normal, healthy changes within their bodies in a relatively short period of time, which can sometimes create discomfort. The shift in centre of gravity, increased breast weight, additional pressure on the pelvic floor, increased fluid volume, hormonal shifts, and loosening of joints can result in postural imbalance, muscle tightness and trigger points, tingling or numbness from neurological compression, restless legs, sleep disturbances and mood changes. All of these symptoms can be improved with massage therapy.

Massage therapy is a key component of stress management during pregnancy and all stages of life. During times of mental and emotional stress, and for some of us this is daily, our adrenal glands increase production of the hormone cortisol, sometimes called the "stress hormone", due to its involvement in our "fright, fight or flight" response; as well, prolonged high levels of cortisol interfere with our immune system function and perpetuate inflammation.

Massage therapy has been shown to immediately lower cortisol levels when measured in saliva tests before and after treatment, due to the increased release of the hormone oxytocin from the pituitary gland in the brain. Oxytocin has a well known role in childbirth (creating uterine contractions) and breastfeeding (milk letdown), and many other positive effects; in all phases of life, it has an anti­depressant effect, lowers blood pressure, decreases pain, and increases feelings of love, caring and social bonding. During pregnancy, the added benefits of a more relaxed state are regular healthy blood flow to the uterus, placenta and baby, regular blood pressure, pulse and breathing, and less anxiety. Oxytocin levels increase in response to massage therapy, as well as to hugging, yoga, exercise, and social support.

Prenatal massage therapy is an opportunity to learn breathing patterns that lengthen your breath, increasing the oxygen and nutrient delivery to your and your baby's cells, as well as removing cell wastes. Slow, relaxed breathing optimizes relaxation and is a useful tool to have available during labour and birth. Self care techniques including stretching, strengthening, postural and positioning awareness are discussed in ­depth and recommended on an individual basis, ensuring they are tailored to your specific needs.

Individualized "Massage with the Birth Partner" workshops are available, providing the opportunity for your birth partner to learn massage, positioning, and assisted stretching techniques that apply to varied birth stages and situations.

All RMTs in BC receive education in their basic training on how to safely treat pregnant women. This includes recognizing conditions that may make modifying or avoiding massage therapy, or referring you to your midwife or doctor, the safe choice. RMTs will routinely ask questions regarding the health of your pregnancy and monitor your blood pressure, swelling changes, and more. At Sage River Wellness, RMTs have completed post­graduate training specific to pre-­ and postnatal massage therapy, enabling us to recognize more pregnancy ­related symptoms and recommend additional self care. Our pregnancy body cushion comfortably accommodates women in the face­down position generally until seven months pregnant; after this, massage therapy can continue in side-lying or reclining positions as long as a woman wishes.

Please contact a Sage River Wellness RMT with any questions and to schedule an appointment.