Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Prenatal massage helps pregnant women de-stress

By Rebecca B. Singson, MD, FPOGS
The Philippine STAR
December 20, 2005
p. D-2

Pregnancy can carry with it many discomforts which you may never experience without it. The growing abdomen causes you to shift your center of gravity such that your spine has to assume a more lordotic (bending backwards) position. That's why pregnant patients constantly complain of backaches.

Pain originating in the low back and buttock area can be coming from a number of different things. Most often, pain results from tight muscles pulling abnormally on the spine. However, it could come from the spine or pelvis rotating abnormally, causing pressure on the nerves. The most common muscular problems that arise during pregnancy result from overstretching of weak abdominal muscles, and tightening of hamstrings (back of the thigh), hip flexors (front of the hip), quadriceps (front thigh), as well as the low back muscles from increased arch in the back. The problem may also be related to the increased joint laxity as a result of the release of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy. This is what accounts for the duck waddling gait of the pregnant woman since all her joints in the hips start to move. Relaxin also causes the relaxation between the two pelvic bones so this loosens and causes pain in the lower part of the abdomen.

Another source of back pain in pregnancy is sciatica, which results from inflammation or pressure of the sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve which comes from your lower back and travels down the back of your legs, and then branches out to your feet, allowing you to feel touch and movement. Sciatica can occur with or without backache and can send pain down the back of the leg, making walking unbearable.

How It's Done

Massage during pregnancy is done either with the patient lying down on her side on a massage table, with pillows between her legs or if the table has a hole to accommodate her tummy, she can lie face down. Essentially, the strokes used are mostly effleurage (smooth gliding strokes along the skin with the palms) with no hacking or chopping movements. Essentially, it is done like a relaxation massage except that the therapist is careful to avoid the points that may trigger premature labor. This is the reason why it is important to find someone who is trained to do massage in pregnancy since a therapist inexperienced with pregnant women may induce complications during the pregnancy.

The Benefits Of Prenatal Massage

� It can alleviate neck, back and joint pains.
� It can relieve cramps and muscle spasms.
� It can help maintain skin elasticity and possibly help ease stretch marks.
� Because of its ability to lower catecholamines (stress hormones), it helps reduce stress and promote relaxation, thus alleviating headaches and sleep problems, and even possibly lower blood pressure.
� Due to the nurturing touch, it provides pampering, emotional support, and physical nurturing, particularly for moms who feel so alone due to the physical or emotional absence of the father.
� Enhances the self-esteem of the pregnant woman.
� Helps the pregnant woman become aware and feel more at home with the changes her body is going through
� Develops the sensory awareness and relaxation necessary to be an active and responsive participant in the birth experience.

When You Should Avoid Being Massaged

A prenatal massage should be done only if you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy. It should be avoided in the following circumstances:

� If you have a history of premature labor in a previous delivery.
� If you have signs of premature labor in the present pregnancy or threatened abortion.
� If you have any evidence of a low implantation of the placenta by ultrasound.
� If you have an incompetent cervix or any other cervical dysfunction.
� Gestational edema, proteinuria, hypertension in pregnancy
� Eclampsia
� Diabetes in pregnancy
� Multiple birth
� Heart disease, liver or renal disease
� Hypertension
� Rh factor incompatibility or genetic problems Do not proceed with a massage in pregnancy if you have any of these signs and symptoms which may signify you are suffering from the above complications:

� Bloody discharge
� Hardening of the abdomen at intervals closer than every 30 mins.
� Continuous abdominal pains
� Leakage or gush of amniotic fluid
� Weight gain of over two lbs. in one week
� Protein or sugar in the urine
� Severe back pain associated with hardening of the abdomen
� Severe headaches, especially if with visual disturbances
� Excessive hunger and thirst
� Frequent, increased urination in the third trimester
� Diarrhea
� Presence of painful varicose veins

Who To Contact For Prenatal Massage

ReBirthSpa has therapists specialized to provide pampering services as well as prenatal, postpartum, and lactation massage for pregnant women. They are trained to perform prenatal massage, are aware of the contraindications, and know how to avoid the possible complications that may arise in the hands of an untrained therapist. The service is done in a spa clinic setup or right in your very home. Call ReBirthSpa at 771-9206 or text 09178063339.

Michelle is primigravid and experienced sciatica from 26 weeks of pregnancy that gave her a lot of discomfort while walking. After one session of prenatal massage, her sciatica was markedly reduced and she plans to go for further massage till she delivers. Ellen could not sleep on her last trimester of pregnancy so she decided to try one session of prenatal massage. That night, she slept soundly throughout the night not only for one week but for the rest of the month.

There are many pregnant women who can be helped by prenatal massage. It is one of the adjunctive services that can improve the well-being of a pregnant woman. Remember that a happy, healthy mother will also likely yield a happy, healthy baby.