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Cascade Quarterly News Archives
Spring 2010 - Volume 4, Issue 1

Feature Article: Pregnancy

Printable PDF Version

In this issue:

1) Feature Article: Pregnancy massage
2) How can massage help?
3) During and after labour
4) Massage can help
5) About Cascade Massage Therapy


1) Feature Article: Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy can be a joyous time for a mother-to-be. However, the changes in a woman’s body and natural fears and anxiety can also be very stressful, both physically and emotionally.

Massage has a profound ability to decrease stress as well as prevent or minimize many of the common symptoms and discomforts of pregnancy. Regular massage therapy sessions can mean the difference between a comfortable, relaxed pregnancy and one defined by miserable aches and pains.

Massage is especially useful because pregnant women are often unable to take many medications that are normally used to manage common problems. Massage can help manage these aches and pains and is completely safe for both the mother and fetus.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, the benefits extend beyond just making mom feel good. Researchers found that for women who received regular massage, there were fewer complications both during pregnancy and afterwards, including fewer premature births.

“With regular massage, there were fewer complications both during pregnancy and afterwards, including fewer premature births.”

Some women avoid massage during pregnancy because they don’t think it’s possible to lie properly on the table. Lying prone (face down) will likely be comfortable until the fourth or fifth month. After that the therapist will work on your back as you lie in a semi-prone or sidelying position.

2) How Can Massage Help?

Massage can have a beneficial impact on a whole range of problems associated with pregnancy, not just muscle aches.

Morning sickness is the nausea and vomiting that many women experience early in the pregnancy. Although it is called morning sickness, it can occur any time during the day or night. As with many other problems, hormones are largely to blame. However, stress also appears to play a very significant role. By using regular massage to relax, the incidence of nausea and vomiting can actually be reduced.

Hormones can also cause constipation as they cause the muscles of the digestive tract to relax. Gentle massage to the abdomen can help relieve constipation by activating a reflex that stimulates movement in the intestines. Massage therapists can also use rocking and passive range of motion techniques to get things moving. Deeper abdominal massage that is often used to relieve constipation in non-pregnant clients is never used, so there is no risk to the fetus.

Headaches are another common problem in pregnancy. A non-drug approach is by far the best way to treat them. Massage has been proven to be extremely useful in dealing with headaches and should be considered the preferred treatment choice. Research shows that headaches become shorter and less frequent with regular massage.

In the second trimester more pronounced physical changes take place. As the abdomen and breasts grow larger, a woman’s posture starts to change. Typically most women develop an increased curve in their low back or sway back to compensate for the extra weight at the front of their bodies. It’s no surprise that about half of all pregnant women develop back pain.

Massage can help through this period by minimizing muscle imbalances, relaxing tense muscles and improving their blood flow. A massage therapist can help minimize episodes of back pain by developing a simple home exercise program to stretch and strengthen various muscles.

Another distressing problem that massage can assist is swelling in the ankles and hands. It’s common. About 75% of all pregnant women will experience ankle swelling during pregnancy. The increased fluid in the hands can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful wrist condition. Massage has proven to be extremely effective in relieving this type of swelling as the broad sweeping massage movements help push the fluid out of the limbs.

Massage therapists are flexible in their approach and can do massage to the back, legs and gluteals even when it is no longer possible to lie face down. By about month four or five in the pregnancy, your therapist will likely have you lie on your side for the massage (as shown in the above illustration).

Lying on the back is usually fine until late in the third trimester. Throughout your pregnancy your massage therapist will always ensure that you are safe and comfortable.

“Massage is particularly important considering that pregnant women often can’t take medications that would normally be used to manage symptoms.”

3) During and After Labour

Massage is invaluable through a woman’s pregnancy. It can be equally beneficial both through childbirth and afterwards.

Labor is tough on a woman’s body. It’s painful, exhausting and stressful. Massage can be a wonderful way of helping the mother through the process.

Massage helps the muscles relax between contractions, reduces pain and anxiety, increases self-assurance and also demonstrates loving encouragement and support. Your massage therapist may be willing to be present for support throughout labor. At the very least, they can teach the woman’s partner or support team a variety of simple, effective techniques that can be used to give the mother some relief and support.

After the birth, the focus falls on the newborn. Unfortunately, in all the excitement, the new mother’s needs are often forgotten. However, this is a time when she could probably use massage the most. The massage can help greatly with her recovery process. For a number of weeks immediately after a vaginal birth, regular abdominal massage will help the uterus contract and shrink back to a normal size. It will relieve muscle aches and pains as well as help the woman deal with her fatigue.

Mild depression is common after birth. About 60% of new mothers experience what is referred to as “postpartum blues”. Massage can have a positive impact on a woman’s emotional state and is a great way to lift her spirits.

So if you are expecting a child or have recently become a new mom, make sure to get some regular massage. Your body will thank you. If you know someone who is pregnant, think of giving her a gift certificate for massage. It will be needed and appreciated.

Although everyone’s attention is on the mother and baby, it’s important to remember that the new father could use massage too. New roles and responsibilities can produce a fair amount of stress and anxiety. Without a doubt the father will appreciate the opportunity to unwind and relax.

A simple compression to the sacrum (a large bone at the back of the pelvis) during contractions can reduce back pain considerably.

4) Massage Can Help

Massage can help you tremendously through labor.

Ask your massage therapist if they do labor support. Alternatively, book an appointment where your massage therapist can teach your partner and support team some simple techniques to help you through the process.

If you have specific health concerns consult your medical doctor.

The information in this newsletter is educational only and is not intended to replace the advice of your personal health care providers.

5) About Cascade Massage Therapy

My Approach

I bring over 18 years of bodywork experience and education to the massage table!

I offer you diverse and comprehensive massage therapy sessions. Your treatment goals are foremost and your needs will be heard and addressed. I utilize both traditional and alternative treatment techniques, and recommend self care tips and exercise options that evolve with your individual healing process. My intention is to be a facilitator in the cascade of your healing process and health maintenance. I believe that within the human body is the desire and ability to be well, and through bodywork, I serve to act as a catalyst for this process.

This is your time - I encourage you to enjoy the stillness of your session, and sense the changes occurring in your body while we work - you don’t need to be entertaining or start a conversation; that being said, please recognize that I do not read minds. I expect my clients to participate in his or her experience and give feedback when there is any discomfort during the treatment.

Cascade Massage Therapy is focused on education and prevention. It is important that you know what you can do to help prevent stress, tension, and pain when you are not with me. I allow for time at the end of our session to converse, suggest self care tips and exercises that would be beneficial for you, and answer any questions that you may have.

I believe that prolonged stress, whether environmental, physical or emotional is a primary factor in dis-ease and a true obstacle to healing.

Therefore, I welcome you to a peace-filled and relaxing environment for you to experience relief from chronic pain.

Sonja Rawlings, RMT
1601 – 30th Avenue
Vernon, BC V1T 2A3

Phone:
250-550-4727

E-mail: sonja@cascademassagetherapy.com

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Office located in Vernon, BC, Canada. Serving Vernon, Coldstream,
Lavington, Armstrong, Lumby, Enderby, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Chase,
Falkland, Kelowna and the rest of the Okanagan.