by Carl Johns, LMT, Mountain Medicine Integrative Wellness Center
Let’s start with the benefits of therapeutic relaxation.
Much has been made lately of the stress response, the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response. Running from the tiger, good. All day work-life stress, bad.
When we are under stress, our body naturally gears its resources toward the muscular system, ready for action and away from rest and digest. So when we are under constant stress, which most people today would say they are, we shift our resources to our largest metabolic energy user, the muscular system.
When this happens we shift our metabolic resources away from vital systems like our digestive and immune systems.
This is why when we receive the muscle relaxation and stress relief of therapeutic massage, it also enhances such vital functions of the body as circulation, respiration, digestion, elimination and immune function.
Pregnancy is absolutely beautiful, and pregnancy is absolutely stressful, and most women do not have the luxury of giving up the stresses that already exist in their lives while going through pregnancy.
Another important, absolute truth in pregnancy is that the benefits of stress relief and therapeutic relaxation benefit the mother, and benefit the baby.
Relaxation, the sense of well-being and the optimal function of all of those vital body systems are essential to a healthy pregnancy. Is it safe to receive massage during pregnancy? The short answer is yes.
For a normal, healthy pregnancy, massage is absolutely safe. If there are complications, or the pregnancy is at risk, then there will be a more complex consideration about safety for mom and baby.
Seek out a trained and experienced therapist who understands the basic safety modifications that should be observed during pregnancy — there are some acupressure points to avoid and considerations to be made about overstretching tendons and ligaments and blood clotting during late stage pregnancy as the body prepares for delivery.
These are commonly understood by therapists with experience in pregnancy massage.
On a personal note, I have seen a good handful of my regular female massage clients through their pregnancies over the years, and none of them would have wanted to go through that experience without that beautiful, nurturing wellness practice for themselves and their babies.