Pregnancy affects a woman’s body physically and emotionally for the entire cycle. Even women who have had other pregnancies experience the changes to some degree. Each trimester presents unique challenges with which a woman must cope. Massage therapy is one way to manage some of the uncomfortable changes and create a more pleasant experience for the new mom.
First Trimester Symptoms
During the first three months, many changes happen and the first-time mother may struggle to deal with them. The baby is rapidly developing and will begin to move around eight weeks. You may have blood tests near the end of the first trimester to determine the genetic health of the baby. These and other symptoms can increase your anxiety level.
By the end of the first month, nausea (morning-sickness) can kick in. At six weeks, the body changes become more pronounced and at seven weeks, mood swings start to occur. The first trimester is full of unknowns and your anxiety level can be high.
First Trimester Massage Solutions
With anxiety, nausea and mood swings, a gentle, relaxing massage is recommended. Swedish massage is one style that focuses on relaxing your mind and body to remove the stress of hormonal changes. It is a safe massage to use during the first trimester when miscarriage is a risk. Make sure your therapist is trained in pregnancy massage and knows the limitations.
Second Trimester Symptoms
At six months the baby is growing quickly and you may suddenly feel much heavier. The nausea goes away and you may find yourself full of energy. You may begin retaining water and find that your ankles and feet are swollen. Leg cramps are common during the second trimester. Your appetite increases. Lower back pain may occur because of the extra weight you are carrying for the baby.
Second Trimester Massage Solutions
Massage of the soft tissues helps to move fluid out of the joints back into the circulatory system. This reduces swelling and helps remove waste products from the muscles and tissues. Massage of the leg and back muscles relieves the tension. As your body changes, treat yourself to a gentle spa treatment to improve the outlook of your own body.
Third Trimester Symptoms
The third semester is like the last stretch for a marathon runner. You’re tired and anxious for it to be over. You’re also anxious about being prepared for having this baby. Your body obviously looks pregnant, which can cause more stress. Your back pain may continue and you may feel more clumsy as fatigue sets in. This is also the time when mood swings become pronounced because of the hormonal changes before birth.
Third Trimester Massage Solutions
Massage therapy has been shown to reduce the stress hormones, such as norepinephrine and cortisol, in the body. It also increases the “happy” hormones, dopamine and serotonin. This change in hormones has been shown to reduce birth complications. The emotional swings also level off more with massage.
Sciatic nerve issues from the weight of the baby on the lower back are reduced by muscle massage. Lower back and leg pain can be reduced dramatically. Leg cramps are reduced by releasing tension on the nerves.
Massage as a Part of Pregnancy
Therapeutic massage is a way to cope with uncomfortable symptoms you will have during pregnancy. While your first thoughts are on the baby, you need to keep yourself healthy, both physically and mentally. Take the time to take care of yourself so you will have the best experience during this pregnancy.