More than altering the gracious contours of a woman’s body, pregnancy brings many discomforts more agonizing than seeing months of dieting efforts totally destroyed.
The growing bulge in a pregnant woman’s abdomen causes a shift of the center of gravity in the body, causing the spine to assume a more backward position thus, the endless complains of backaches. The pains originating from the lower back area come from many things.
One source of back pain caused by the inflammation of or alleviated pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica. Sciatica may also be not painful but it can send pain down the back of the leg, making walking almost unbearable. This pain occurs in the legs because the sciatic nerves run from the low back to the back of the legs, branching out to the feet.
But the most often, the pains come from muscular problems brought about by the shift of the center of gravity. Either tight muscled pull abnormally on the spine or there is an abnormal rotation of the spine or pelvis causes more pressure on the nerves.
Usually, the overstretching of weak abdominal muscles, tightening of the hamstrings, quadriceps and flexors (front of the hips), and the increased arch in the back become the main sources of pains. But the problem may also be attributed to the increased laxity in the joints due to the release of the hormone relaxin. Relaxin causes the pubic bones to looses, contributing to the pain in the abdomen. This is also made evident in the duck-wade gait of pregnant women.
Prenatal massage was found to be an effective way of alleviating the pains. However, it is not to be advised for those who have complications in their pregnancy such as signs of premature labor or threatened abortion, low implantation of placenta, a cervical dysfunction, gestational edema, protein or sugar in urine, hypertension, diabetes, heart and liver disease, or those who had multiple births.
Also, it should be avoided by those having blood discharges, severe back pains associated with hardening in the abdomen, continuous abdominal pains, leakage of amniotic fluid, severe headaches with visual disturbances, excessive hunger and thirst, frequent urination in the third trimester, diarrhea, painful varicose veins, and more than two pounds gained in a week.
The massage is done either with the woman facedown (if there is a hole in the table to make room for the tummy) or lying down on one side with pillows placed between the legs. Smooth, gliding strokes along the skin with the palms, without any hacking or chopping movements are used. Trigger points of premature labor is carefully avoided.
The massage reduces stress caused by the hormone cathecolamine, thereby allowing relaxation to set in and alleviating headaches, sleep problem and sometimes, even lowering blood pressure. Moreover, it relieves the body from neck, back and joint pains while cramps and muscle spasms are reduced. Skin elasticity is also maintained and stretch marks are considerably eased.
Aside from the obvious effects, the woman’s self-esteem is also enhanced due to the pampering and physical nurturing. The massage helps the pregnant person become more at home with her changed body.