Many people may think of massage as something that only occurs at a spa, after some form of sports injury, or to periodically reduce tension in muscles. These are not the only uses for massage, a practice which also branches into medical uses. For some, two other kinds of massage can be incredibly helpful: pregnancy and infant massage. Prenatal massage might help to alleviate many of the physical discomforts that come with the pregnancy territory. Special training is needed to make sure that the mother and unborn child are kept safe during massage. Some massage therapists are actually certified in prenatal massage. The American Pregnancy Association sees many benefits of prenatal massage. Obviously, anxiety, depression, and stress are reduced at the same time as pains in the joints and muscles are alleviated. This kind of stress on the mind and body is obviously not uncommon during pregnancy, so many patients will continue to seek treatment throughout the entire duration of their pregnancy. According to the APA, Swedish massage, which improves circulation and reduces tension in the muscles, is the “recommended prenatal massage method…because it addresses…skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts”. Studies have actually shown that cortisol and norepinephrine (“stress hormones”) are reduced. This can benefit not only the mother-to-be, but there may also be fewer birth complications and a reduced risk of low birth weight and other problems. Pregnancy massage could help to treat edema (joint swelling) by stimulating soft tissues to release fluids. The lymphatic system will also remove waste more efficiently. Massage can be helpful in treating sciatica nerve pain, caused by the uterine pressure. There are even a few other side benefits from prenatal massage, including “improved oxygenation” and “better sleep”. Of course, high-risk pregnancies, hypertension, pre-term labor risk, and severe swelling would require consultation with a medical professional before seeking massage therapy. In the majority of cases, patients who seek the care of a massage therapist during their pregnancy will see a lot of positive results.1
While a professional massage therapist can, and likely should, be sought for infant massage, the use of this gentle therapy at home is also something that parents will be able to incorporate in their own child care regimen. Daily massage for an infant is good for parent-child bonding, its use might help the baby sleep and relieve colic, and it may also be able to “enhance an infant’s immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development”. Gentle stroking motions and working section-by-section are key elements of properly and safely performed massage at home. Simple techniques can be taught by video, and they could give a new parent the confidence they need in massaging their baby at home. The parent may wish to speak softly to their child to provide additional comfort and familiarity for the baby. The newborn’s abdomen can be stroked in a clockwise motion, the baby may be rocked gently side-to-side, the head and face might also be massaged, and the parents could then finish off with the chest, arms, back, and legs. Building massage into the daily schedule, just a few minutes at a time, can be very beneficial for both the baby’s mental and physical states. The duration of these massage sessions could be lengthened over time, and massage may be performed multiple times per day. Massage can bring a family closer together, strengthening their bonding through soothing touch and a calming voice; a break for both baby and parent or parents.2 If parents prefer to seek a professional to massage their infant or teach at-home techniques, there are organizations that specialize in this. Some parents might choose to mix sessions of at-home massage with time spent under a professional’s care.3, 4, 5
Massage and Chiropractic
Massage can be a complementary procedure to go with chiropractic care. In fact, it is very common for massage therapists and chiropractors to work together, through both referral and, in some cases, by working in the same office. When it comes to treating a wide variety of ailments, massage might act as a complementary aspect of treatment to chiropractic care. Chiropractors also have the ability to safely treat pregnant women and infants for a number of conditions. DCs have been well trained in the use of special techniques that are specifically meant to help women who are pregnant with a breech-positioned baby, as an example. Other types of chiropractic procedures include the employment of special positions and tools during adjustments for pregnant women. When the time comes, the moments after birth, which for both the mother and child is physically and mentally a stressful time, may require a chance to relax and realign. This can be achieved with chiropractic care, both for the mother and child. Massage is a wonderful companion therapy that can be used in these special and delicate times of life.
Learn about pregnancy and chiropractic.