During pregnancy the woman’s body undergoes a series of changes to receive the fetus. More hormone relaxin is produced, which in turn makes the joints more unstable. With the progressive increase of the belly the center of gravity of the body moves forward and, in order to balance and adapt to this new postural pattern, other regions of the body can undergo modifications. One is the lumbar, which accentuates its curvature (lordosis) with frontal uterine growth. These factors, in addition to the progressive increase in weight, the compression of the vertebrae and the progressive decrease in the strength of the abdominal wall and pelvic floor cause a very common complaint in pregnant women, back pain. About 50% of pregnant women report back pain, and if the woman already has a previous spine problem, this incidence is even greater
Pregnancy and Baby Massage

Prenatal Massage:

One of the most important benefits of a prenatal massage is hormone regulation. According to the American Pregnancy Association, research over the past 10 years have shown that when massage therapy is made part of prenatal care, levels of hormones associated with stress and relaxation are significantly altered, such that they lead to better regulation of mood and improved cardiovascular health. Most importantly, better regulation of hormones can lead to reduced chances of complications during birth and fewer complications in the baby.

Women who received biweekly prenatal massages for five weeks were found to have decreased levels of stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. This is important, as this could lead to a strengthened immune system and decreased inflammation (read: less pain) throughout the body. Not only did levels of stress hormones decrease, but the levels of “relaxation” hormones dopamine and serotonin were increased also. Low levels of either of these hormones are associated with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

Prenatal massage improves cardiovascular health not just from better hormone regulation but also from the physical action of stroking the muscles and tissues of the body. Massaging stimulates the blood and lymph to flow more freely throughout the body. Better circulation means better oxygen and nutrient delivery throughout your body, increasing the amount of goodies being delivered to your baby. Your body will be better able to flush out toxins and cellular waste through the lymphatic system. Finally, improved circulation will help to reduce swelling in your joints.

Prenatal massage is best known for alleviating common musculoskeletal pains associated with pregnancy, such as low back pain, foot pain, and nerve pain (typically due to sciatic nerve being irritated and/or compressed). Pain is reduced by several ways: first, massage stimulates the release of endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain killers. Next, the increase in circulation allows for better delivery of anti-inflammatory substances, which can help reduce the sensation of pain. Finally, muscles will become less tense and more relaxed, releasing any pressure on sensitive structures like the sciatic nerve, which may cause pain in the back of the leg, or the femoral nerve, which can cause pain in the side or front of the thighs. You may also consult with a chiropractor, who is especially trained in assessing the body for areas of nerve dysfunction that are causing the discomfort in your neck, low back, pelvis, even the legs and feet.