Bump & Baby Magazine Article
The magic touch
Massage therapist Jules Hayden from Mamas Retreat (mamasretreat.co.nz) shares how massage therapy can ensure you get the best out of your journey into pregnancy, motherhood and beyond.
Touch is the first sense to develop at six to nine weeks gestation in utero and it is the last sense to leave us before we pass away. It is what makes us feel safe and helps us to begin to make sense of the world. Pregnancy can be an exciting and challenging time due to the many physical, mental, and emotional changes happening in the body and massage can help keep baby and mama at optimum health at this time. A woman’s body undergoes many changes during pregnancy and postpartum and some of these can be very stressful and uncomfortable. Receiving pregnancy massage gives time and space to deeply relax. A relaxed mama can have a happier, healthier pregnancy and this can lead to a better childbirth experience.
Pregnancy massage can be performed from the first trimester onwards, as this is the trimester when mamas often feel the worst physically and mentally. Many women will not seek massage until the third trimester when they feel physically and mentally overwhelmed as they try to wind down on their maternity leave (which is usually one to two weeks before giving birth). It’s important to note that some spas and therapists may not provide pregnancy massage until the second trimester as they may not be trained in first trimester massage.
Each stage of pregnancy is dynamic and massage techniques should be adapted to each stage of this change. Touch provides a way for a mama to tune into changes occurring in her body and pregnancy massage is incredibly beneficial in relieving ailments such as fatigue, sore and swollen legs, sciatica, headaches, neck, and shoulder pain. Pregnancy-safe essential oils can be used during each trimester but in much lower doses, as the oils can cross the placenta.
- has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and manage hormones;
- can assist in general mood improvement as massage calms the parasympathetic nervous system;
- rejuvenates energy in the body because it gives time to rest and completely relax;
- can relieve nausea and heartburn in some women;
- relieves aching neck, sore back, and heaviness in the pelvic bones, leg cramps, swelling of the ankles and feet and oedema (fluid retention);
- builds a feeling of connectedness with your baby;
- improves sleep due to less muscle tension and generally feeling less uncomfortable.
Labour preparation massage
Labour is the final stage of birth and just like any big event, you need to prepare for it. Labour preparation massage is typically undertaken from 37 weeks, or if you have gone beyond your due date. The massage includes a combination of relaxation techniques, acupressure, yoga, exercises, optimal maternal positioning, essential oils and strong massage techniques. This massage will not force the body to go into labour, but instead work to get your body and mind, as well as your baby, ready for birth. The massage will help the cervix to soften but labour will not begin until mama and baby are truly ready. Goals of this massage include…
- relaxing the mother-to-be;
- releasing stored emotional blocks to help with readiness for labour;
- preparing the birthing muscles;
- assisting the body in activating contractions and labour;
- helping with cervical dilation through the use of acupressure points;
- stimulating specific acupressure points thought to help move the baby down the birth canal;
- helping with oxytocin production to facilitate labour;
- providing a nurturing and safe space for the mother to be and process any fears or anxiety about labour.
Postnatal massage is essential for a new mum as they can often feel depleted and out-of-balance following pregnancy and birth. The golden month – or 40 days postpartum – is a huge transition period, and massage can help you navigate the physical and emotional strains during this time. Postnatal massage promotes relaxation, circulation and relieves anxiety, exhaustion, tension and postpartum blues. It can also help with hormone regulation, swelling, sleep issues and milk production and can speed up the healing process and assist with c-section recovery. Baby massage Baby massage is a wonderful way for mum and baby to bond. For some, bonding can happen immediately, but for others it may take some time due to a variety of reasons, such as a difficult pregnancy or birth experience, lack of sleep, colicky baby etc. Healthy touch is an early language that is easily understood and infant massage can improve the relationship between parents and baby and relieve stress in infants and caregivers.
Massage after miscarriage
Miscarriage can be a very difficult experience to navigate. Around one third of pregnancies end in miscarriage and often women feel very alone in navigating this territory. If a woman is in the first trimester, she may not have told anyone and can feel especially alone. This massage helps bring a state of peace and prepares the body and mind for future conception. During this massage, muscles receive oxygen and blood to restore the tissues and assist recovery. It also increases the flow of lymph, which improves the health of the immune system and helps to reduce unwanted fatigue and symptoms related to depression and anxiety.