Pregnancy massage for prenatal aches and pains
So why is a pregnancy massage great for treating prenatal aches and pains? Anyone who has had a great massage on the Lower North Shore can attest to the sense of relaxation, reduced muscle tension, increased circulation, improved recovery from injuries and an overall increase in mobility and flexibility felt afterwards. All of these benefits and more are true of a great pregnancy massage too. A prenatal or pregnancy massage can be a great way for expectant mums to minimise a number of discomforts during pregnancy and also help to improve benefits during labour as well. At Lane Cove Physio we have a number of staff expertly trained in the most effective and scientifically proven pregnancy massage methods that are safe during any trimester[i] .
WHAT IS A PREGNANCY MASSAGE?
Pregnancy or prenatal massage is a type of massage therapy designed to decrase stress/anxiety, reduce swelling in the legs and arms, improve circulation and reduce musculoskeletal aches and pains. Pregnancy massage in Sydney has become more popular as more and more women see the benefits for themselves. It is performed at Lane Cove physio by an expert in women’s health and is usually on the gentler side using a number of different techniques. Pregnancy causes increased strain on your shoulder, back, neck, pelvis and abdominal muscles, but can also cause other musculoskeletal discomfort. Your physiotherapist will take you through an in depth assessment of your health, lifestyle and any limitations before getting started.
Our women’s health physiotherapists, Monique, have specialised skills in the assessment and treatment of pelvic floor muscle function and dysfunction, as well as other musculoskeletal issues associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding. They will help you get relaxed and comfortable before getting started with the massage, it may take place on your side depending on what is most safe and comfortable for your circumstances.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PRENATAL MASSAGE THERAPY?
Massage therapy has been shown in a number of studies to have significant health and wellness benefits during pregnancy. Women who undergo massage therapy during pregnancy consistently report decreased anxiety, stress, leg pain, lower back pain and improved sleep. Pregnancy massage has even proved to be effective during labour in managing pain and improving the emotional experience of labour.
- Stress and anxiety reduction
Massage therapy is known to stimulate the body’s production of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Low levels of dopamine and serotonin are linked to depression. Pregnancy massage also reduces the amount of norepinephrine and cortisol in the body, both hormones associated with stress. Decreased cortisol levels have also been linked with decreased fetal activity and prematurity.
- Reduction of swelling
Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by a combination of reduced circulation, additional fluid and increased pressure on the major blood vessels caused by the heavy uterus. Referred to by medical professionals as edema, the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet are most commonly affected and can be uncomfortable with anything from sitting down to wearing shoes. A pregnancy massage stimulates the soft tissues to reduce the collection of fluids in swollen joints, speeding up the removal of tissue waste carried by the body’s lymph system.
- Easing of nerve pain
During pregnancy, a number of nerves are put under more pressure and can cause pain and discomfort. Pregnancy massages focus on addressing the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. For example, during pregnancy many women report increased pain in the sciatic nerve. Most commonly experienced late in the pregnancy due to the uterus resting on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The extra pressure created by the uterus causes tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, leading to swelling and put pressure on localised nerves.
- Reduced labor pain and time of labor
The act of giving birth is listed as one of the most painful experiences possible and I’m certainly not going to argue with that. In a study that looked at labor pain, when pregnant women’s partners massaged their back and legs for 15 minutes out of every hour, the women experienced significantly less pain, with less need for medication and experienced labours that were on average 3 hours shorter than those that didn’t.
ALWAYS DISCUSS ANY NEW TREATMENTS WITH YOUR GP OR OBSTETRICIAN
Even though prenatal massage has been shown to be safe under most circumstances for each trimester, it is important to discuss any new treatments or changes to your current plan. It is especially important to discuss with your GP if you:
- are in the first trimester
- are suffering pronounced nausea, vomiting, or morning sickness
- have been deemed a high risk of miscarriage
- have high blood pressure or another condition that defines a high-risk pregnancy
- have Deep vein thrombosis or another blood clotting issue
- have severe abdominal pain or bleeding
A referral is not required for women’s health physiotherapy consults, but it may be beneficial for your Lane Cove physio to liaise with your GP and/or gynaecologist after your first consult. As Prenatal massages in Sydney become more popular it is even more important to ensure your practitioner is an expert on women’s health issues, musculoskeletal conditions and pregnancy massage in particular. Feel free to contact us on (02) 9428 5772 and we will do our best to answer all your questions and provide you with an appointment time which b
 Wang SM, Dezinno P, Fermo L, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine for low-back pain in pregnancy: a cross-sectional survey. J. Altern. Complement. Med. 2005;11:459–464.
 T. Field, M. Hemandez-Reif, S. Hart, H. Theakston, S. Schanberg & C. Kuhn (1999) Pregnant women benefit from massage therapy, Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 20:1, 31-38, DOI:
 Field T. Pregnancy and labor massage. Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010;5(2):177–181. doi:10.1586/eog.10.12
 Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Taylor S, Quintino O, Burman I. Labor pain is reduced by massage therapy. J. Psychosom. Obstet. Gynaecol. 1997;18:286–291.
[i] Always seek the advice of your GP or obstetrician before beginning any new programs during the first trimester.