Therapy Focus

The benefits of Pregnancy Massage

In this week’s feature Lucy Sage talks to us about the benefits of massage and aromatherapy both prenatal and post natal. She also includes some handy self massage tips and highlights a few healing essential oils.

I have enjoyed working as a massage therapist for over ten years, I have developed my practise and have specialised in pregnancy, labour massage, couples classes,post natal massage, baby massage and aromatherapy for over six years wonderful years now. There are numerous reasons for having pregnancy massage and many amazing benefits for you and your baby. You can also get your partner and friends trained up and ready to massage you before the birth and during labour, I offer training sessions for couples, families and some great tips on helping to bring labour on when needed.

Massage therapy and aromatherapy can provide significant relief from all those aches and growing pains that the many physiological, structural, and psychological changes and that can accompany pregnancy at times. Other changes include increased weight, hormonal changes, and the increasing dropping of the pelvis which can be relieved by massage and aromatherapy. Massage helps to ease lower back pain associated with pregnancy through addressing the lumbosacral tilt that occurs.

Here are some more of the benefits of massage and aromatherapy both prenatal and post natal. Massage can help increase circulation, which helps to transport oxygen and nutrients to all of our cells, providing you and your baby with a healthy oxygen supply and wonderful nourishment. Increasing circulation can also reduce the varicose veins forming and reduce swelling in the feet, ankles and legs. When you are pregnant your blood volume increases as much as 40%, which can stress the lymphatic system, and increase fluid retention. Massage can reverse this. Massage also improves skin elasticity, increases flexibility and tone to the muscles, which can help ease muscle cramps and reduce stress on weight bearing joints. Aromatherapy Oils can be used to further improve the skins elasticity and prevent and reduce and heal skin scarring. Massage stimulates the endocrine system and the associated glands, which then helps to stabilise and reduce stress hormones to yourself and your baby.

Regular pregnancy massage helps to soften the muscles around the lungs and thoracic cage, which helps to expand breathing capability and provide more oxygen to your baby. Massage and aromatherapy works very effectively on the nervous system to induce a sense of calm, which then in turn helps you to sleep better and help your baby to grow healthier and happier.

Regular massage during pregnancy can help to relieve your tense shoulders, chest and back and also help prepare you for the breastfeeding stage and it is necessary to sit and feed, which can cause an aching upper back and shoulders. Massage also helps to maintain correct posture, which then alleviates shoulder, neck, upper and lower back pain.

Self Massage & Ayurvedic Abhayanga
For daily abhyanga massage, apply a thin layer of oil to your entire body. Then, massage your entire body from the head down. Start at the scalp using your fingertips, using gentle strokes on your face and ears, long strokes on your neck, long bones and circular strokes over joints. Shower or bathe after abhyanga with tepid water. You will come out of the shower feeling extra refreshed and with soft supple skin. If you can not reach to do this as the baby grows or you just don’t have the time, self massaging your breasts and baby bump in a clockwise motion with a good blend of carrier oil and low dosage safe essential oils is highly beneficial to yourself and your baby. Avoid mineral oils and creams, read labels and look for anything that might have mineral oil, parabens, paraffin petroleum and their derivatives in them.

Choosing a Massage Oil and Essential Oils in Pregnancy and whilst Breastfeeding
Pesticides and herbicides concentrate in the oil of conventionally farmed plants. So use organic oil to avoid absorbing these toxins and passing them on to your baby. Neutral-scented plant, soothing carrier oils are a good choice. Grapeseed, almond, apricot and peach oil are nourishing and softening. Calendula oil is good for damaged skin. Wheat germ oil is nourishing, high in vitamin E and acts as a preservative in combination with other oils.

Massage oils blended with essential oils give you the benefit of aromatherapy along with your massage. It is advised to wait until the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. If you are ready to relax and enjoy pregnancy, aromatherapy and essential oils can really calm and soothe. Be aware that many essential oils are contraindicated during pregnancy so read labels carefully and be sure that the oils included are not potentially harmful for pregnancy and even when using essential oils in pregnancy it is important to use a very low dosage of drops,1% dilution, which is one drop of essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil and never use essential oils undiluted in pregnancy. With caution and a good knowledge of your own allergies and list of contraindicated oils in pregnancy and breastfeeding and not forgetting the appropriate doses of essential oils to use during pregnancy you can prepare your own custom-made massage oil, add essential oils to cured sesame oil, or a neutral oil like apricot , calendula or grapeseed. Some beneficial essential oils for pregnancy include, grapefruit, mandarin, true lavender, yang ylang, jasmine, chamomile and neroli, rose otto, sandalwood to name a few. Contraindicated oils include rosemary, eucalyptus, basil, fennel,cinnamon, clove, clary sage and lavender spike and many more, please always check with an aromatherapist specialising in pre and post natal aromatherapy massage. It is a good idea to have a special blend made up for you by a trained aromatherapist which will always incorporate a very good consultation of all your health concerns, needs and allergies.

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