Please welcome Lize Williams as a guest blogger for Seed of Life! Lize is a massage therapist specializing in pre and postnatal massage- in the home. She is passionate about helping parents navigate the perinatal period through massage. We are excited to have her blogging with us!
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Pretty much anyone who has been pregnant has had someone tell them “Ooh, you should get a pregnancy massage!” And sure, massage sounds great, but what does that have to do with pregnancy?
As it turns out, quite a lot. There are a number of reasons to get massage while you are pregnant, some of which are the same as the reasons for getting a massage in general, and some of which are specific to pregnancy. Here are some benefits specific to pregnancy massage:
- Massage reduces strain on muscles. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of pregnancy massage is that it makes your sore muscles feel better. Pregnancy increases muscle soreness in several ways: you are carrying more weight, your joints aren’t carrying their full load due to loosened ligaments so the muscles have to pick up the slack, and your posture changes as your center of gravity shifts. All of this leads to increased strain on your muscles, which get fatigued faster, and can be more prone to injury.
- Massage can lower anxiety and stress hormones, resulting in a decrease in premature delivery and birth complications. This may seem like a wild claim, but Dr. Tiffany Field did a study at the Touch Research Institute on the effects of massage on pregnant women, and women who received regular massage during their pregnancy had improved deliveries!
- Massage can improve emotional well-being. Along with the reduction of stress hormones, massage can decrease depression and anxiety, and increase production of feel-good hormone serotonin. Pregnancy can be an exciting time, but it is also a time of change, and change is stressful. Even in the best of circumstances pregnancy can bring some challenging emotions, and massage can help balance those through hormonal effects and calming the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system.
- Massage can improve blood and lymph flow. Improving lymphatic flow can decrease swelling, which is a common pregnancy complaint especially in the feet, ankles, and legs. Improvements in blood circulation can benefit blood pressure and relieve headaches.
- Massage improves posture. By relieving tension in various muscles, it can be easier to realign into good posture. Massage therapists can also help your posture by teaching you what good posture looks and feels like for your changing body. Proper alignment can help reduce frequent pregnancy-related complaints, such as low back pain, shoulder pain, sciatica and headaches.
- Massage can improve sleep. By decreasing stress and physical discomfort, massage can help mothers-to-be sleep better. Massage therapists can also give advice on how to properly position pillows to be adequately supportive and relieve stress on your body when you lie down.
- Massage can help mothers prepare for labor. By learning how to relax, and practicing relaxing as a response to touch, pregnant women can have easier labor thanks to their experiences with massage during pregnancy. Associating touch and relaxation ahead of time can help a birth partner’s touch be more effective during labor.
- Massage during pregnancy may increase how much loving touch mothers provide their infants. Touch is hugely important for human development. Even with all our other physical needs met, without touch, babies fail to thrive. Women who receive compassionate touch (such as through massage) during their pregnancy and labor go on to touch their infants more, in a more nurturing way. This creates more security and attachment for the baby, versus babies who are touched less and can be more aggressive and withdrawn.
- Massage can support lactation. Positive touch stimulates production of the hormone prolactin, which has multiple effects on the body, including increasing milk supply and nesting and nurturing instincts.
- Massage can help you enjoy your changing body. In a culture obsessed with women’s bodies, the weight gain and changes in shape associated with pregnancy can be hard on our self-esteem. We may avoid being touched or looked at by even our intimate partners. In addition to reducing pregnancy pains, massage can also help you reconnect to your body in a positive, non-threatening way, experiencing touch without the worry of attractiveness. Your body is doing a wonderful thing, but more than that, it IS a wonderful thing, and sometimes we just need a little extra reminder of that through an enjoyable physical experience.
 Nurturing Massage for Pregnancy by Leslie Stager
Lize Williams is a Licensed Massage Therapist whose work focuses on the strains of bearing and raising children. After having her own daughter she realized just how hard engaging in self-care can be for new mothers, so she founded Motherhood Massage, a house-call based massage practice designed to reduce the barriers to self-care for mothers, mothers-to-be, and other caregivers. She recognizes that amongst all the joy, motherhood can also be challenging and isolating, and works to help her clients feel more connected to themselves, their families, and their world through the healing power of touch. Her work combines treatment and relaxation, to help soothe and strengthen her clients’ bodies and minds. The perinatal period is rife with changes and challenges, and Lize views her work as a wholistic support for her clients, helping them with face whatever the journey into parenthood is throwing their way. She is a certified MotherTouch Bodywork Professional and has studied under Leslie Stager.