Pregnancy is a time of major physiological, psychological, spiritual and social changes. The process of gestation and giving birth is one of, if not the, most transformative event in a woman’s life. Structurally and physiologically a pregnant woman’s body is challenged, changed, and stressed in many ways. Structurally the pregnant body must adjust to the additional anterior weight of the baby which produces tension in the muscles of the back and the legs, stretching of the abdominal muscles, and stress on the weight-bearing joints. The circulatory system and every other body system adapt to and support the pregnancy. As her body changes, a woman must balance her need for greater dependence on others with her need to also develop inner resources of strength in order to be the one on whom the baby can depend.
While massage therapy during pregnancy is not intended to replace appropriate medical and prenatal care, there are numbers of indications for massage in pregnancy which address a women’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Benefits of pregnancy massage:
· Reduction of stress and promotion of sympathetic system sedation.
· Relief from muscle spasms. Cramps, fibrosis, myofascial pain, especially in the back and neck.
· Increases blood and lymph circulation and supports the physiological process of gestation, by supporting the work of the heart, increasing cellular respiration, reducing edema, and contributing to sympathetic nervous system sedation.
· Alleviates stress on weight-bearing joints and musculofascial structures (especially sacroiliac joint, thoracolumbar spine, hips, erector spinal musculature).
· Provides emotional support and physical nurturance (particularly for those who are alone in the process, either literally or through the emotional absence of the partner)
· Develops the sensory awareness necessary to embody kinesthetically the birth process (In order to birth, the musculature of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor must remain relaxed to allow the uterus to labor with no resistance).
· Facilitates postpartum structural realignment of spine and pelvis and rehabilitation of abdominal and psoas musculature.