Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

The Benefits of Massage During Pregnancy
From an RMT who practices in pre- and postnatal massage
And has been through both herself.
Maryann Cooney RMT 
Anna Belanger & Associates

From the moment you become pregnant your body begins to change. These changes continue until you deliver your baby and even 6-12 months after.

Your breast get bigger, then smaller. Your internal organs in your abdomen are moved around. Your abdominal muscles and ligaments in your stomach and buttocks begin to loosen. You instinctively protect your baby by collapsing in around your belly. Your hipbones start to separate. Often hands, ankles, and lower legs can swell and you can experience calf cramps. Changes in your appetite, sleep patterns as well as blood pressure occur and so much more.  All of these changes for better or worse lead to exhaustion, stress, muscle tension, and just over all aches and pains.

Massage Therapy can help!


Lets start with your breasts. The muscle supporting your breasts get tired as the “load” gets bigger.  These muscles are now being asked to carry a heavier load and continue their every day jobs. This is normally represented as mid to upper back pain around your shoulder blades. Your massage therapist can massage the muscles that are weak and tired, decreasing the tension in you’re mid to upper back as well as provide a breast massage. Breast massage helps decrease breast tenderness and increases circulation to the breast tissue, which in turn helps the surrounding structures.

Low Back Pain:
Low back pain is a common complaint for mid 2 nd to 3 rd trimester. As your center of gravity changes your posture adjusts causing low back and hip discomfort. Your abdominal walls ever changing size and the increase of fat tissue in the area to protect baby weaken core strength. Often we experience low back pain as a result of having tight glutes (Buttocks). When we are pregnant this can increase. As the hormone relaxin sets into your body the ligaments around your hips and buttocks loosen and your gluteus maximus, minimus and medius spend most of your pregnancy trying to hold everything in place till its time to give birth. The gluteal muscles refer pain not only to the buttocks and upper thigh but also to your low back. Your massage therapist can safely massage these areas (low back and gluteal muscles) with the proper amount of pressure given depending on how far along you are. Your therapist can provide proper posture techniques for day-to-day activities as well as sleeping positions and proper pillowing to support your posture.
Headaches are also a common issue with pregnancy. Increased tension in the upper back, increased hormones traveling through your body, plus your baby taking all your nutrients and fluid are all causes of headaches in pregnancy. The lack of painkillers available to pregnant women can make headaches unbearable. Massage not only helps with muscle tension but can also help with your circulation.
Edema is defined as a condition characterized by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body. In pregnancy it is presented as swelling of the hands and feet as well as the lower legs, and can be worse in late pregnancy and in hotter temperatures. Your Doctor/OB/Midwife may tell you to increase water intake and elevate your limbs as much as possible. Increasing your water intake will not remove the edema but will insure rotation of fluid in your body. Your massage therapist can decrease the edema for a short period of time with a technique called Lymphatic drainage. Manual Lymphatic drainage helps with rotation of fluid in your body. The edema will completely disappear shortly after birth the length depending on the type of labour/delivery.
Calf cramps:
Calf cramps is one of the most common and the most painful ailments of pregnancy. Waking up in the middle of the night from a dead sleep feeling the sharpest ache in you calf/foot can be unbearable. Massage can help to relax the muscle and calm the nerves in your calves as well as increase circulation to the lower legs bring required nutrients. Your massage therapist can also suggest stretches and other techniques to help prevent calf cramps.
Stress during pregnancy is unavoidable. Either it’s your in-laws and parents; the unwanted advice of strangers, friends, co-workers; planning the baby’s room; house renovations/moving; work; or just the stress of growing a new life form. Stress is a constant during pregnancy. However to much stress can be bad for mom and baby, releasing cortisol into the body and sending the body onto fight or flight for long periods can effect mom and baby negatively in forms of lack of sleep, digestion issues, and raised blood pressure. Massage can relax the body and mind, decrease cortisol levels, lower blood pressure and increase sleep, in turn increasing mommy and baby’s health.

Being pregnant you are creating a new life and in the first trimester a new life and life support (placenta), this is exhausting on your body. Massage gives you that time to rest and helps relax the body as a whole reducing overall exhaustion in mom. You time! Massage also helps calm the nerves inducing rest and digest mood which can help deepen sleep for over exhausted moms and can induce sleep for moms with insomnia.