Pregnancy Massage - What Do You Mean 18 Months?

massage, therapy, pregnant, pregnancy, vancouver

Pregnancy and Post Pregnancy Massage 9 months up, 9 months down. Never mind what your mother-in-law says about how quickly she returned to her girlish figure ­ as if! I've read the Girlfriends¹ handbook and so have you; we know how much is involved before and after the actual birth. So...what can we do to make the 18 months of pregnancy easier, less stressful, and healthier ...without the ubiquitous get a pedicure and eat a bran muffin kind of advice?

People tell you that things will get easier after the baby is born I don't think so. The things that bothered us during pregnancy continue to rear their ugly heads after. The tummy that we carried during pregnancy becomes babe in arms after; in or out of utero 8 lbs. is still heavy and can cause pain and discomfort in our back, neck and shoulders. Hormones that course through our bloodstream during pregnancy wreaking wreak havoc with our digestion, circulation and emotions continue to plague us after birth. The stress of having to have a perfect pregnancy while trying to work full-time, meet countless appointments with your GP or mid-wife or whatever and be completely ready for an experience you've never encountered can become overwhelming ­ nevermind the inevitable fatigue.


~Using massage therapy on a regular basis can help you enjoy your body during and after pregnancy, keep your blood pressure lower and emotionally nurture yourself and the child within.~


Pregnancy is often a time when women create the opportunity to treat themselves physically and emotionally better. We eat better, get more rest (Ha!) and try to continue with some exercise. It¹s also the time to work on postural corrections, as the strain of pregnancy often exaggerates our small shortcomings. Pregnant women I treat often complain of sore backs; the weight of the tummy tilts the pelvis forward causing the upper back to compensate in return. All this curving and tilting can cause discomfort and or pain. A registered massage therapist can help loosen tight muscles and give suggestions for strengthening others to help alleviate some of the strain. I find the Angry Cat (on all fours, arch your lower back up, hold and release - remember to breath and repeat) to be quite helpful for lower back pain, especially if the baby is sitting against the mother¹s spine.


~Regular massage therapy can help the new mother re-connect with her new body as it returns to its pre-pregnancy state.~


By using massage, you can invigorate muscles that have long gone under-used (read tummy) and lengthen over-used muscles (read low back), correcting postural changes before they become ingrained - as much as we love them, how many of us want to become our mothers? Often new mums find themselves curved over with breast feeding, endless diaper changing, welcome cooing and tickling; this slump in posture leads to sore shoulders, neck and sometimes headaches. The "walnut crunch" - squeezing your shoulder blades together as if trying to crack a walnut between them - will often give relief.


The placenta produces more estrogen and progesterone than usual. Progesterone slows down smooth muscle functioning, which is responsible for lymphatic circulation and the digestion. This means that we have more swelling in our hands and feet, which can cause things like carpal tunnel syndrome and constipation. Regular massage can help to normalize circulation, thereby decreasing or helping to control swelling; and by enhancing lymph absorption, it can decrease hormone fluctuation. Although in post-pregnancy our circulatory system seems to function better, our hormones can remain unbalanced for months.


~Massage can help stabilize hormonal fluctuations by stimulating glandular secretions; this may help alleviate some of the associated mood swings.~


A recent University of Kentucky study correlated an increase in fetal heart rate in response to a stressed, pregnant mother; the fetal heart rate rose and remained higher, longer. This fetal response to stress has been linked to higher risks of heart disease and diabetes later in life as well as to retarded fetal development. Massage therapy can be used as a relaxation tool. There are many soothing, healing techniques and strokes that can be employed by a therapist, including coaching in deep breathing, bringing more oxygen to baby and mother and dropping their heart rates.


~Healthy, happy, calm Mama = healthy, happy, calm baby.~


Motherhood is one of our most fulfilling challenges. The joy of getting acquainted with your newborn sends you on the most wonderful learning curve you can travel. However our levels of stress as we are thrown into that learning curve peak in the first few months following the marathon birth of our child. In the simplest terms, while you are on the massage table, you have no choice but to rest, thereby easing your stress, nurturing your skin and stimulating your immune system. As with your pregnant state, your post-partum stress levels will directly affect your child's.


~The less stress you have, the calmer and happier your baby will be.~


Although massage is not the only answer to the changes and stresses of our pregnancy year and a bit, regular massage can help to alleviate many of the symptoms, leading to a lasting sense of well being, allowing you to bond more easily with your baby and with your new life. As mothers, we are usually the primary nurturers and caregivers for our children and family; it is essential that our bodies, minds and spirits also be enriched.


written by Gaelen Gibson


Gaelen Gibson is a registered massage therapist and mother of two lovely children in Vancouver, BC.  Don't worry, pregnancy pillows are available ­ you can lie face down.