Source: Pregnancy and Massage, Susan Salvo, amtamassage.org/mtj, Spring 2019
Susan Santi is a certified massage therapist and owner of Ahhh Massage in Virginia, MN. Feel free to contact her with questions at 218-410-2144.
I had a young mother, who wants to get pregnant again, ask me if she should avoid massage while pregnant. I told her definitely not. Massage is actually very helpful for mother and baby. According to Susan Salvo’s Pregnancy and Massage article in the Massage Therapy Journal, “The overall effect of massage should be nurturing and relaxing.”
I agree 100 percent. Massage has been proven to help not only the mother, but the unborn baby as well. As mom is getting her massage, she relaxes and this relaxation is passed from mom to her baby. It’s all good, especially when the breath that mom may have been holding is released. Mom relaxes and so does baby, allowing them both to enjoy their time on the table.
Prenatal massage, in general, is excellent for the pregnant mother. It helps to decrease back pain, anxiety and, yes, even depression. It can also help with quality of sleep. Massage also works well to help treat prenatal and postpartum depression.
Prenatal depression is not discussed nearly as much as postpartum depression. However, it can still very much be there. And massage can help. Salvo’s quote in the first paragraph of her article tells us that massage should be nurturing and relaxing. Susan Salvo writes, “Massage decreased prenatal depression with reduced stress and anxiety, lowered norepinephrine levels, increased dopamine and serotonin levels, and lessened leg and back pain.”
Massage is also nonchemical in origin. Therefore, no drugs are used to help with depression, just a pair of hands. It’s important to note that prenatal depression, left untreated, can be a precursor to postpartum depression.
The following are signs and symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression that, if detected, massage combined with psychotherapy may help. They are 1. A prolonged period of profound sadness. 2. Deep hopelessness. 3. A loss of self-esteem. 4. A decreased interest or pleasure in most activities. 5. A loss of interest in interpersonal relationships.
The postpartum period starts right after childbirth and can last up to six weeks. The above mentioned article also states, “The American Pregnancy Association promotes postnatal massage for decreasing depression. And the benefits are increased relaxation, decreased anxiety, depression and pain; reduced swelling and improved sleep.”
One of the areas that can be specifically targeted are the abdominals. When you think about it, this area has been stretched to help with carrying the growing baby for nine months, so massage here can be a great help with getting rid of knots, tension and soreness.
All of this works toward reconditioning the mother’s core back to before the baby. It is also suggested that foot reflexology massage can help reduce fatigue, stress and depression in postpartum women.
So, if you or someone you know is expecting or just had a baby, massage might be the ticket to feeling better overall. It’s a great way to relax while the massage therapist works on your tense muscles. It helps to release the sore, tired and achiness your muscles have been hanging onto. Think of it as a tuneup for your body.