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The 4 Ways Massage Helps You Beat Stress During Your Pregnancy

While a welcomed blessing for most, pregnancy brings world of change for all involved. Pregnancy is a time of turbulent emotions, from euphoria and joy to emotional upheaval and anxiety. Relationship, financial and socio-economic stressors can impact the mother’s experience of pregnancy.

 

Flight or Fight

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system – the body’s internal “flight-or-fight” response when we experience stress. This response stimulates the production of adrenaline, which can be helpful in responding to emergencies, such as stopping a child from running across a busy road, or slamming of the breaks to avoid a collision with another car. However, chronic and continual arousal of the sympathetic nervous system can have detrimental effects to health. In this state, blood supply in prioritised, and can impact the amount of oxygen and blood circulation to the baby.

Most child birth education programs focus on relaxation. There is an increased chance for positive birth experiences in addition to increased well-being for mother and baby when stress-reduction activities become a part of the mother’s routine.

 

Relax and Let Go

Relaxation elicits the parasympathetic nervous system, creating physiological balance and improved functioning. When functioning in a relaxed state, the mother will have steady blood pressure and blood and circulation to the uterus, foetus and placenta; improved immune system functioning; and the ability to respond better to stressful events and a reduced experience of anxiety.

In addition to creating bolstering feelings of well-being, improving functioning and increasing optimism, certain types of massage are relaxing, and cause the mother to shift her focus internally and “let go” of the outside world. This internal reflection is not only soothing, but it can prepare the mother for labour and birth.

Massage is conductive to eliciting relaxation responses as the setting is quiet with minimal disruptions and regular and deep breathing rates can be sustained.

 

Massage the Cornerstone of Relaxation

Pregnancy massage is a time to pause and acknowledge the physical, emotional and mental changes that occur during pregnancy. Not every pregnancy is the same, so treatment is tailored to suit the needs of mum-to-be. Pregnancy Massage uses techniques specific to the common musculoskeletal issues that are unique to pregnancy.

Some of the benefits of pregnancy massage include:

  • Reduced back and joint pain, making you feel more comfortable as your baby develops
  • Improved circulation and blood supply for your baby
  • Reduced oedema and swelling, creating a feeling of lightness
  • Reduced muscle tension and headaches
  • Reduced stress and anxiety, as massage soothes the nervous system and boosts mood
  • Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
  • Better sleep

 

Comfort Matters

Pregnancy massage is a soothing and nurturing treatment. The comfort of the mother-to-be is paramount and as such, treatment is performed side-lying, with pillows for support at the head and legs and a Denton’s pillow placed under the belly. From a side lying position, the massage therapist has access to the back, hips and glutes which are commonly sore and tense during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Massage assists in remedying many of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as:

  • muscular discomforts, lower-back pain, upper-back pain, neck pain
  • headaches
  • leg cramps
  • sciatica
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • fatigue
  • oedema of the lower extremities
  • sacroiliac and hip joint pain
  • constipation

Ensuring the comfort of mum and baby are the number one priorities when providing a pregnancy treatment. The treatment will only begin when mum and baby feel comfortable on the massage table.

Coordinating your massage treatment with your GP, OB/GYN or midwife appointments ensures that we can provide you with the best treatment relative to you and your baby’s development.

If you would like more information or advice to see if Pregnancy Massage is right for you, contact us or book your next appointment now!

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Mind the Bump – What Happens When There Are More Than Two People in The Treatment Room

Mind the Bump – What Happens When There Are More Than Two People in The Treatment Room

 

It’s no secret that I love what I do. And why wouldn’t I? Every day, I am privileged to support women through pregnancy and into motherhood with massage.

We all know that massage is amazing for the usual aches and pain of life – from spending too much time at your desk, hunched over a computer – to pushing it too hard at the gym on leg day. But massage during pregnancy is a whole other ball game.

Pregnancy is a unique stage of human life and while the muscular discomforts that are experienced are the same, every pregnancy journey is different and affects women is acutely different ways.

One of my mums asked me “What makes pregnancy massage feel so good?” My simple reply was, “Well, I am massaging two of you, so the effect is doubled.”

One of the things that makes pregnancy massage so different is that there are two people on the massage table. And in the case of multiple babies, there will be three or even four people on the table!

One of the greatest privileges I have is massaging a pregnant woman’s abdomen. A lot of women shy away from this. And I get it, the stomach in a sensitive area for most women, especially if there are issues around body image and we tend to store a lot of emotions in this region. But especially in pregnancy, doctors and midwives poke and prod and even complete strangers feel the urge to touch your belly without consent.

In pregnancy massage balance is vital. Back spasms are common in pregnancy and this can be the bodies attempt to balance the body as the center of gravity shifts forward to cope with the weight of baby and postural changes.

The benefits of massaging the abdomen are numerous. Massage supports the abdominal muscles, eases the load on the lumbar spine and can aid in alleviating the abdominal separation. In addition to the physical benefits, massage can enhance the mother-baby connection. During this time, the mother can draw her attention to her abdomen and connect with the movements of her baby.

Quite often during am abdomen massage, I can feel the baby kick, or press again my palm. And I must admit this is a special moment too. It’s moments like this the may me realise that mum is not the only one receiving the benefits of the massage.

The quote “good for mum, good for baby” rings true in the scope of pregnancy massage. Whatever mum is experiencing, baby will experience.  It is important that mum makes time to relax and look after herself.

If you want to learn more about how massage can help you during your pregnancy, please contact Laura on 0407 512 009 or book an appointment now.

 

For more information on the benefits of pregnancy massage, please visit the blog archive.

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Is Your Fanny My Business?

You Want Me To Massage My What….?

Yep, you read correctly… this post is a bit intimate and personal, but nevertheless extremely important for women, especially first-time mums.

There has been a great deal of research to demonstrate the benefits antenatal perineal massage.

A recent study by Ugwu et al. (2018) found that antenatal perineal massage reduced the need for episiotomy and ensured that the perineum remained intact after delivery as well as implications for reduced post-natal incontinence. Shahoei et al (2017) found that when the perineum was massaged during the second stage of labour the need for episiotomy was reduced in addition to injury and pain.

And while perineal massage is not something that a massage therapist will perform on a client, it is something that you can do, within the privacy of your own home, alone or with your partners help.

 

So, What is Perineal Massage?

Perineal massage helps to increase the stretchiness and flexibility of the perineum by stretching the skin of the birth outlet and helping you to prepare you for the sensations of tingling, burning or stinging as your baby’s head is born.  The massage can be performed by you or your partner to stretch the perineum by rubbing the area with fingers or thumbs. It may reduce your risk of having a tear or needing an episiotomy post-partum.

 

And Where is the Perineum?

The perineum is the area of skin between the vagina and the anus. During a vaginal childbirth, this area stretches to allow your baby to be born. Particularly with your first birth, this area gets stretched as the head is being born and may tear a little as the head comes out. Performing perineal massage on yourself towards the end of your pregnancy can help prevent this from happening.

Studies have shown that perineal massage can reduce tearing at birth for women having their first baby, ensure you are more comfortable and recover more quickly following the birth, help you enhance the bond with your baby better and are able to care for them more easily.

 

When should I not perform perineal massage?

Perineal massage should not be performed:

  • Before 34 weeks of pregnancy
  • If you have a low lying placenta (placenta praevia)
  • If you have genital herpes, thrush or other vaginal infection, which may spread to other areas
  • If you or your partner has an open wound or infection on the hands or fingers

 

When should I start?

It is recommended that perineal massage starts between 34-35 weeks of your pregnancy. It can be done once a day. Initially you may experience a strong stretching or burning sensation but over time you may start to notice a change in the flexibility and stretchiness of the skin and these feelings should decrease.

 

Getting Started

Before starting perineal massage, you should:

  • Empty your bladder
  • Wash your hands
  • Find a relaxing place to perform perineal massage, such as your bathroom, bedroom or anywhere else you feel comfortable.
  • Sit or lean back. It may help to prop your hips comfortably with a pillow
  • A warm bath or warm compress on the perineum for 10 minutes before may help with relaxation
  • Using a mirror for the first few times will help you to become familiar with the area you are massaging
  • You can do the massage yourself, but you may find it easier for your partner to do it
  • Use lubrication– this can be olive, wheat germ or almond oil or vitamin e cream

 

 

How to perform the perineal massage

  • Put the lubricant on your thumbs and around the perineum
  • Place your thumbs just inside the vagina, about 3-4 cm in depth
  • Press downward and to the sides at the same time, stretching your vagina open as wide as possible until you feel a tingling or burning sensation. Pause and take a deep breath
  • Keeping a steady pressure move your thumbs from side to side in a ‘u’ shaped motion. The area may become a little numb and you won’t feel the tingling as much
  • Hold the stretch for 45-60 seconds and then release
  • Massage with more oil and stretch again to maximum hold then release. Do this daily for about 5– 10 minutes

 

At first your perineum will feel tight but as you practice the tissues will relax and stretch. Focus on relaxed breathing, relaxing the pelvic floor muscles and allowing the tissues to stretch.

 

If your partner is helping you do perineal massage – ensure they use clean hands and either their thumbs or one to two index fingers inside the lower part of the vagina. It is important to tell your partner how much pressure to apply without causing too much discomfort or pain.

 

Resources:

Ugwu EO, Iferikigwe ES, Obi SN, Eleje G, Ozumba BC, 2018. Effectiveness of antenatal perineal massage in reducing perineal trauma and post-partum morbidities: A randomized controlled trial. The journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research.

Shahoei R, Zaheri F, Nasab LH, Ranaei F 2017. The effect of perineal massage during the second stage of birth on nulliparous women perineal: A randomization clinical trial. Electronic Physician.

 

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The 5 Reasons Why Massage Must Be Part of Your Postpartum Recovery

Early postpartum recovery is a time of healing and adjustment. The recovery period is the 6-week period post-birth however, but the body continues to have metabolic and hormonal changes that can last longer.

I often remind my clients that it has taken them 9 months, or in some cases 10, to allow their baby to develop. A woman’s body changes almost instantly post-birth, and it takes time to return balance to the body, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

And of course, we must acknowledge the biggest challenge that new mums face – how they can look after themselves when they are trying to keep a little human alive. Keep reading to find out why massage forms a vital part of post-partum recovery.

 

The Benefits Of Postnatal Massage

Massage is important for early postnatal recovery. Massage during the postpartum period can even enable a quicker recovery from pregnancy and childbirth and improve the health and wellbeing of mum. Massage forms a vital part of the journey into motherhood.

Some of the benefits of postpartum massage include:

  • Labour recovery, physical and mental exhaustion
  • Alleviating stress, anxiety and depression
  • Rebalancing postural changes and reducing pain
  • Aiding the repair of scar tissue from surgery due to cesarean birth
  • Providing relief from breastfeeding posture and mammary changes

 

Labour Recovery

Let’s face it, whether you have a quick 1-hour labour, or whether your labour went on for days, there is no denying that it has an impact on your body. From the first stages, to the active pushing and expulsion of the placenta, your body had worked hard to endure these phases. Massage in the postpartum period can help the new mother to alleviate feelings of physical and mental exhaustion. Massage is a wonderful way to reduce pregnancy discomforts hat often linger postnatally. Receiving massage is early postpartum can enhance recovery and reduce pelvic ligament and joint strain and pain.

 

Mental Health of Mum and Dad

Massage at any stage of life can reduce stress hormones and increase feelings of relaxation. Postpartum massage shares these benefits. More than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression. Postnatal anxiety is just as common, and many parents experience both anxiety and depression at the same time.

For mums, hormonal changes can be a contributing factor for changes in mental health. While adjusting to new responsibilities and feelings of frustration, stress and overwhelm can impact both parents. Massage can help the new mum and dad alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health postnatally, please contact PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306 or  Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Pregnancy Birth Baby Helpline on 1800 882 436.

 

Postural Rebalance and Reducing Pain

Post-birth, a woman’s posture changes dramatically. Their center of gravity is no longer being thrust forward with the weight of baby. But this does not mean that the body automatically rebalances itself. Massage can assist in realigning and rebalancing postural changes in the glutes, hips and shoulders. Thus, providing relieve form muscular strain and reducing tension headaches, and generalized lower back pain.  Postnatal massage is relaxing and eases muscular strain not only form labour and birth, but also assists in rebalancing the body as it adjusts to new physical demands, such as breastfeeding.

 

Scar Tissue Repair

One of the main focuses of postpartum massage is scar tissue repair and rebalancing the abdominal muscles. After a caesarian birth, some mothers report a loss of feeling and sensation in their abdomen. Postnatal massage focuses on bringing awareness to the abdomen and allowing mum to connect into her body.

Postpartum treatment also works on reducing adhesions surrounding the scar tissue, which can help mum feel freer and reduce abdomen pain. Massage on the caesarian scar tissue can help to heal the deeper layers of the wound and can prevent tissues from sticking together.

If you have had a caesarian, it is recommended to obtain consent and approval from your primary health care professional prior to attending treatment. This ensure that massage is safe, and the journey to healing and rebalancing can begin.

 

Breastfeeding posture

Motherhood brings with it new physical demands. Lifting, carrying and holding a new baby puts strain on the back, while breastfeeding strains the neck, upper back. It can feel like your whole body is a ball of pain and tension.

I often remind my new mums that breastfeeding is a skill that you need to learn, much like how your baby is learning the ways of the world too. Take it easy, take it slow and most of all be kind to yourself. It may take a while to hone this skill. At the end of the day, there is no right way to breast feed. If you choose to do it, or not do it, it doesn’t matter. But your posture is vital whether you are using breast or bottle.

I love this video from What To Expect. It goes through three breastfeeding postures for optimal comfort of mum and baby. What I love most about this video is that mum has supported her feet on a stool and throughout her shoulders are relaxed and she isn’t slouched or hunched over.

Watch It Here

 

Postnatal Massage Recommendations

As with pregnancy massage, postnatal treatment considers the comfort of mum, first and foremost. Prior to treatment, I recommend that mum’s feed or express to increase comfort.

Treatment can be performed side lying, if lying on the stomach causes pain in the abdomen or breasts.

Mum can also bring baby into the treatment if child care is not available. Baby can either be in the pram or on the table with mum if it is suitable.

Appointments can be arranged around feeding and sleep times to make this easier for baby to settle and for mum to relax.

Need an appointment? Book Now!

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The 3 Reasons Why Pregnancy Is A Pain In The BUTT

… And What You Can Do About It NOW!

 

It’s no secret that pregnancy can be painful. In fact, I’ve written about it before (in this blog on the 3 Ways to Beat Pregnancy Pain).

A lot of my clients tell me that their doctors aren’t too helpful in helping them understand their pain, which why I have compiled this list of the 3 main causes of hip/back and glute pain in pregnancy and most importantly how massage during pregnancy can help you reduce pain, feel freer and more engergised!

 

Pelvic Girdle Pain (AKA: Pelvic Girdle instability)

 

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a condition can affect 20% of women during pregnancy. PGP can occur due to changes in ligaments because of the hormone relaxin, which increases joint laxity.

Every day activities such as walking or standing can aggravate and cause strain within the joint. Pain may not be felt until several hours later. In some cases, pain can be constant.

PGP can be managed by avoid aggravating activities, such as lifting and weight bearing activities.  Strengthening exercise that support the abdominals, pelvic floor and lower back can also be beneficial.

Massage can also help alleviate the symptoms of PGP through releasing tight muscles and ligaments in the glutes, hips and lower back.

 

Round Ligament Pain

Several ligaments support the uterus as the foetus grows. One of these ligaments is called the round ligament. The role of the round ligament is to keep the uterus in a forward titled position.

As the round ligament stretches due to foetal growth pain can be felts from the top of the uterus to the groin and can even extend to the vulvar and upper thigh.

Depending on foetal positioning pain can be felt on one side, or both sides.

Massaging the abdomen can help to alleviate round ligament pain by assisting in maintaining uterine positioning and stabilising the lower back.

 

Sciatic Pain

Sciatica is the name given to a series of symptoms, not a specific problem. The sciatic nerve runs down the lower back, through the glutes and innervates the lower leg and feet.

A slipped or injured disc can be the primary cause of sciatica, but sometimes, the functioning of the nerve can be affected, causing pins and needles or pain down the back of your leg.

In some cases, tight gluteal muscles can mimic the pain symptoms of sciatica. Massage can assist in releasing tight glute muscles and provide support to balance the lower back.

 

The next step…

Just because pain during pregnancy is common does not mean that you must put up with it. Understanding the cause of pain can help in alleviating the symptoms so that you can have a happy and healthy pregnancy.

 

Struggling with Pregnancy Aches? Book a Massage now!