Many people may think of massage as something that occurs at a spa, after some form of sports injury, or to periodically reduce tension in muscles but two other kinds of massage can be incredibly helpful: pregnancy and infant massage.
Prenatal massage can 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 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. 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 less risk of low birth weight and other problems. Pregnancy massage can 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.1
While a professional masseuse can be sought for infant massage, it is also something parents can incorporate in their own child care regimen. Daily massage for an infant is good for bonding, can help the baby sleep and relieve colic, and may also “enhance an infant’s immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development”. Gentle stroking motions and working section-by-section are key elements. Simple techniques can be taught by video, and they can give a new parent the confidence they need in massaging their baby at home. The abdomen can be stroked in a clockwise motion, the baby can be rocked gently side-to-side, the head and face can also be massaged, and the parents can finish off with the chest, arms, back, and legs. Building massage into the daily schedule, just a few minutes at a time, can be beneficial.2 If parents prefer to seek a professional to massage their infant, there are organizations that specialize in this.3,4,5
Massage and Chiropractic
Massage can be a complementary procedure to go with chiropractic care. Chiropractors also treat pregnant women and infants. DCs can use special techniques to help women pregnant with a breech-positioned baby, for example. Other types of chiropractic procedures include special positions used for pregnant women. The moments after birth can also be treated with chiropractic care, both for the mother and child. Massage is a wonderful companion therapy that can be used in these special times of life.
Learn about pregnancy and chiropractic.