You’re pregnant and, chances are, you’re uncomfortable. Thanks to your new-found “posture,” you have stress on your back, neck and shoulders—not to mention the nightly search for a comfortable sleeping position. Perhaps it’s time to indulge. A prenatal massage is just what the doula ordered.
Though there are only a handful of studies on prenatal massage, the suggested benefits are staggering. From lowering anxiety to easing discomfort, prenatal massage is earning its stripes among the medical community. In fact, a recent study from the University of Miami suggests that prenatal massage can:
- Lessen anxiety
- Ease leg and back pain
- Enhance sleep
- Lower the level of stress hormones
Meanwhile, additional studies have found prenatal massage can increases the body’s levels of serotonin and dopamine—”feel-good” hormones. When taken together, these benefits are impressive, to say the least!
As you’ve undoubtedly realized, pregnancy changes everything. This is one of the main reasons Stacy Wooster, a licensed prenatal massage therapist and doula, champions prenatal massage. Stacy says that it helps ease women through this transition, while offering a quiet space and the opportunity “to go within.” And, more importantly, “It restores balance to the body,” she says. And, in this world, balance is priceless.
Though prenatal massage can reduce stress and promote wellness, a number of contraindications should be considered before you make your first appointment. Here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to contraindicated massage modalities:
Deep-tissue, shiatsu, cross-fiber, and percussive tapping: Pregnancy disrupts normal blood circulation and places you at a higher risk of developing blood clots. Unfortunately, some techniques can dislodge these clots. For this reason, only gentle pressure is indicated during a pregnancy.
Acupuncture and reflexology: Acupuncture or reflexology of pressure points associated with the ovaries, uterus, cervix, abdomen, intestine, spleen and bladder are discouraged.
Range of motion: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) suggest that moms-to-be avoid range of motion exercises and certain yoga poses.
Aromatherapy and essential oils: Aromatherapy and essential oils are contraindicated thanks, in part, to your new-found sense of smell. Why? It leaves you prone to nausea.