A prenatal licensed massage therapist needs additional training to learn more, and to become mindful of the needs of a pregnant woman. Often Swedish and other lighter forms of massage are utilized and should proceed with caution and awareness of the growing fetus. Massage can be indulged in at any time during pregnancy but is mostly recommended after the onset of the second trimester, past all the risk factors for developing fetus.
The most common reason a woman may seek out a prenatal massage is to alleviate low back pain and leg pain caused by the changing demands placed on the body. Other considerations are to relieve muscle aches, ease sore areas and to improve circulation of fluids within the joint structures.
Many women also turn to massage to reduce anxiety, help with depression, and find relaxation. Massage therapy while pregnant also improves sleep, eases constipation, and has an overall calming effect.
Prenatal massage has a soothing effect on the nervous system as it improves Vagal tone and decreases levels of cortisol in the body. Several studies have shown (study 1, study 2) that the vagus nerve is involved in many vital processes during pregnancy. Such as regulation of inflammation, normal function of vital organs and adequate production of hormones.
Vagus nerve plays an important role in regulation of blood flow and contraction of the uterine muscles. Mothers receiving massage on a regular basis experience fewer complications during delivery and can shorten labor time by an average of three hours. Massage during pregnancy is also linked to a lower incidence of premature birth and less incidence of low birthweight rate.
It is of great benefit to the mother to be, to engage in regular massage therapy with a licensed experienced prenatal practitioner. In addition, craniosacral therapy also adds great value to the state of health to both mother and growing baby.