To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Maternity Massage Therapy for Pregnant, Laboring and Postpartum Women,” by Carole Osborne, in the October 2010 issue. Article summary: Maternity-massage therapy is one of the most personally rewarding and professionally satisfying massage-therapy specializations. Maternity massage addresses the many needs of women throughout an entire childbearing cycle, rather than just during pregnancy. If you are considering entering the world of bellies roiling with life, labor’s powerful groans and the sweetness of a mom embracing her newborn, you will need a sense of what this really entails.
by George Luntz
Pregnancy should be a time of relaxation, comfort and excitement as a mother prepares for the arrival of her new baby. Massages are a wonderful treat that can help a woman throughout pregnancy and labor. While pregnancy is a beautiful process, it tends to take a toll on the expectant mother’s body.
Many women worry about the effects of pregnancy on their body, and with more than 75 percent of women reporting they develop stretch marks during pregnancy, it is no wonder this is a common concern.
During pregnancy, your skin needs to stretch to many times its normal size. The stretching occurs over the abdomen to accommodate the growth of your baby, but also over the buttocks, thighs and breasts.
There are many things that can be done to help skin to stretch without scarring, and applying nourishing oils accompanied by a massage can help. Massage oils can help promote elasticity, support flexibility of connective tissue, and maintain water balance and healthy circulation. These oils should be applied slowly and gently onto the abdomen after a bath or shower.
In addition to stretch marks, another common occurrence amongst pregnant women is tired, swollen feet. Due to the weight gained during pregnancy, one’s center of gravity is altered, increasing the pressure on the knees, ankles and feet. An expectant mom may also suffer from water retention, and find that her ankles and feet swell.
A proper massage can alleviate a myriad of problems by massaging certain pressure points in the foot. In addition to soothing tired and achy feet, massage oils help support circulation to the feet and ankles.
Pure essential oils, such as Litsea cubeba and grapefruit, have excellent anti-inflammatory and calming properties and also treat swelling, water retention, fatigue and insomnia. While a pregnant woman can do the massage herself, it is even better if her partner massages her feet for her, allowing her to relax, close her eyes and fully benefit from the therapeutic effects of the oils combined with a soothing foot massage. After all—she is the one carrying the baby.
Massage oils can even be used while the expectant mother is in labor. In fact, the calming and soothing powers of touch for women during labor are well-known. Clary sage, lavender and jasmine are all therapeutic oils that act as natural pain relievers, stimulate stronger, more regular contractions and increase overall well-being.
Gentle massage at the time of labor will help to relax the mother and aid in the production of endorphins to gently soothe the mother during labor and support healthy contractions.
The areas of the body that are likely to be massaged during labor include the back, buttocks, inner thighs, legs, stomach and hands. Women who are massaged by their partners, midwives, doulas or other support figures during labor experience pain relief and have even been shown to have shorter labors overall. It can also help a woman relax, and the more tranquil she is, the more efficient labor will be.
George Luntz, is co-founder and president of Native Remedies, founded in 2002. With more than 250 herbal and homeopathic products, Native Remedies offers specially formulated, compound natural remedies, including top-selling pregnancy and labor massage oils HeavenlyLabor Aromatic Massage Oil™, StretchEasy Massage Oil™, and Faithful Feet Massage Oil™. For more information, visit www.nativeremedies.com.