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Massage Therapy for an Easy(er) Pregnancy
a guest blog by Stacy Lazar at Zeel.com, October 2, 2012
While pregnancy can be one of the most beautiful and special times in a woman's life, accompanying factors like nausea, achy feet and fatigue can also make those nine months some of the most difficult to bear. We recently sat down with Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist Lisanne Franco of New York City to discuss how massage—specifically bodywork geared to the pregnant female body—can help to ease the process. Here's what you need to know.
1. What is the value of massage during pregnancy?
As my teacher at the Institute of Somatic Therapy put it, massage is "a safe and drug-free way to relieve the aches and pains" that come with pregnancy—and in a number of ways at that. Massage enhances the circulatory and lymphatic systems, which can reduce pregnancy-related swelling, as well as the nervous system. As a pregnant woman begins to gain weight, massage is also able to alleviate stress on the joints (primarily in the lower body), sore muscles and sciatic nerve pain.
A gentle touch can greatly relieve the emotional stress that a mom-to-be can feel as well, which ultimately helps the body prepare itself for an easy (well, easier) delivery. And of course, we can't forget the positive and healthy impact that massage has on the fetus. When Mom feels good, baby feels good too.
2. Why are pregnant women discouraged from massage during the first trimester?
Actually, not all therapists advise against this. The reason behind their trepidation is that the risk of miscarriage is the greatest around the eighth and ninth week of a woman's pregnancy. Because of this, some therapists request that their client be in their second or third trimester. An experienced massage practitioner with specialized training in prenatal bodywork, however, will know to avoid abdominal work while using gentle pressure at and around the lumbar and sacral areas.
3. What are the most important qualities a pregnant woman should look for in a prenatal massage therapist?
I think that the most important quality to look for in a prenatal massage therapist is how many years they've been licensed for. Certifications to perform prenatal massage are not required in every state, but you should nevertheless be sure to seek out a gifted prenatal massage therapist who is also licensed in the state in which they practice. For the particularly exhausted woman, in-home massage therapy can be an option too.
When searching for a good massage therapist, always go with your gut instinct. If you feel at ease speaking with the therapist, you will most likely find that same connection when you see them in person for your massage. When I'm looking for a massage therapist, I always look for someone who works from not only a technical aspect, but from an intuitive manner as well.
4. Is there anything that can enhance the benefits of a pregnancy massage?
Getting as much rest as possible, eating well, staying hydrated and adding a touch of exercise can enhance a prenatal massage. In fact, to me, those are the most basic habits that everyone should maintain for optimal systemic health, whether pregnant or not.
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