The Importance of Prenatal Massage

Written by Eve Bandusena | Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant

Image Source: Quality Confinement Home Centre

A pregnant woman’s body changes dramatically over nine months. Prenatal massage  helps with physical and emotional effects of pregnancy ranging from relieving muscles and joint pains to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Interested to learn more? Keep on reading.

What is a prenatal massage?

“Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health,” says Aisyah Aqilah Bt. Manie Abdullah, founder, and CEO of Quality Confinement Home Centre, Kota Kinabalu. She is also a certified postnatal caregiver and infant massage instructor (IAIM).

 Prenatal massage as part of prenatal care

Along with the guidance and advice of a prenatal care provider, massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as an emotional and physical health supplement shown to improve pregnancy outcomes and maternal health.

 “Massage is well known for relaxationstress reduction, pain relief, and other health benefits. Unique postpartum benefits include hormone regulation, reduced swelling, better sleep, and improved breastfeeding. More advanced therapy helps restore your body to its pre-pregnancy condition, speeds healing and assists with C-section recovery.”

 “Consult with your midwife or obstetrician before beginning any new therapeutic practice.” Aisyah advices.


Benefits of prenatal massage

“Massage therapy addresses different needs through varying techniques, one of which is called Swedish Massage,” Aisyah tell us.

 Indeed, Swedish Massage aims to relax muscle tension and improve lymphatic and blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscle groups of the body. It is also the recommended massage method during pregnancy because it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts.

 Consider the many benefits prenatal massage:

 ·        Relaxation and Stress Reduction

Massage relaxes muscles, increases circulation and lowers stress hormones, bringing relaxation and stress relief. All body systems appreciate treatment after nine months of change, culminating with the delivery of the greatest miracle in life.


Some women prefer lighter pampering massage while others enjoy deeper techniques to work out the knots. Adding myofascial release and craniosacral therapy reaches deeper into the body for more complete healing. Any of these massage styles will bring relaxation and stress reduction.


Anxiety and depression respond very well to skilled therapy. About two-thirds of new moms experience temporary postpartum blues related to hormonal changes, new responsibilities, and adjustment frustrations. Emotional support and the other benefits of massage can help during this transition.


Postpartum depression is a more serious, longer-lasting condition that affects 10-15% of mothers. Studies show massage to be beneficial for treating postpartum depression. Don’t hesitate to consult healthcare providers for assistance, including a postpartum bodyworker.


·        Pain Relief


Residual body aches from pregnancy are normal. Adding breastfeeding and childcare can intensify arm, shoulder and back pain. Massage is an effective holistic approach that relaxes muscles and relieves pain without medication. A skilled therapist may also resolve even associated numbness and tingling. Chronic or severe pain may require multiple sessions for resolution.


 ·        Hormone Regulation


Massage greatly improves postpartum hormone balance. Estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are very high during pregnancy and decrease after delivery. Prolactin and oxytocin hormone levels rise to facilitate breastfeeding. Studies indicate that massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Certain essential oils may also bring hormone and mood balance.


Massage also reduces naturally occurring biochemicals associated with depression (dopamine and serotonin) and cardiovascular problems (norepinephrine), supporting Mom with the challenges of motherhood.


 ·        Improved Breastfeeding


Breastfeeding is a beautiful gift to your newborn, but it can also be a challenge for some moms. Massage therapy relaxes the body, increases circulation and increases milk production. Studies show that massage increases prolactin levels, a lactation hormone.


Relaxation in the chest muscles opens the shoulders and improves lactation. New research indicates that breast massage helps relieve breast pain, decreases breast milk sodium and improves newborn suckling. Consult with your therapist about this service as work directly on the breasts may not be legal in some areas.


 ·        Better Sleep


Most new moms feel exhausted after labor and delivery, complicated with around-the-clock baby care. Massage will ease the fatigue, promote relaxation and assist with sleep. Studies have shown an increase in delta brain waves (those that accompany deep sleep) with massage therapy.


That is why it is very common to fall asleep during a massage. Getting enough sleep is key to postpartum recovery. Everything improves when you feel rested! Arrange some help and get regular massages for better rest and sleep. One study correlated better sleep with losing the baby fat on the tummy.


Image Source: Quality Confinement Home Centre
Precautions for prenatal massage?

“Women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider,” Aisyah reasserts, “the best way to address the risks of prenatal massage is to be informed and to work together with knowledgeable professionals.”
 Body position during prenatal massage
“Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying,” Aisyah concernedly adds, “tables that provide a hole in which the uterus can fit may not be reliable and can still apply pressure to the abdomen, or allow the abdomen to dangle, causing uncomfortable stretching of the uterine ligaments.”
“Do consult your massage therapist before your first appointment to verify what position they place their clients in during the massage.” She lastly adds.
Seek an appropriate massage therapist
It is important to seek care from a certified prenatal massage therapist.
“Certified therapists have received training beyond the national standards for massage therapists and know how to address specific pregnancy and massage needs,” Aisyah says.
“Here at QCHS, our physiotherapist has 10 years’ experience & 5 years experience.
They are aware of how to position you safely and prevent strain to the uterine ligaments. They are also able to watch for symptoms of blood clots and varicose veins.”
Image Source: Quality Confinement Home Centre
Is prenatal massage free throughout an entire pregnancy?
“Women can begin massage therapy at the second, or third trimester of their pregnancy,” Aisyah affirms.
“Many facilities will refuse to offer massage to a woman who is still in her first trimester because of the increased risk for miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.” She explains.
Any last messages for the readers of Parents Avenue?
“Confinement period is a very important post-natal period. A good confinement period guarantees the long-term health vitality of a mommy. Ignoring the confinement period will lead to a future long-term consequence. So, take care of your health first so that you can give your baby good health.” Aisyah asserts.

She presses on doing proper research when finding a good confinement center, preferably with trained personnel and good physiotherapists.

And, lastly… Find a confinement home where you feel at home.

“Why? Because we don’t want mommies to have post-partum depression which is very common to new mommies. A homely environment with good home-cooked meals plus friendly and smiling staff goes a long way in making your 30 days stay a pleasant and restful experience.”

To get in touch with Quality Confinement Home & Spa for more information or consultation, you may call them at 010-900-5878, email them at [email protected] or visit them in person at Hse No.34, Lorong Raja Udang 10, Phase 2, Taman Kingfisher, Kuala Inanam, Likas, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. At Parents Avenue, we strongly recommend all our readers to seek medical advise from your local hospital or clinic. Thank you. 

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