by Donna Mauer

 

Being pregnant is one of the most amazing, beautiful experiences of a woman’s life. But, it’s also a time of aches, pains, anxiety, and emotional highs and lows for many women. There’s a new life growing inside of you, and no matter how many books you’ve read or friends you’ve talked to, every pregnancy is different. While we can all agree that taking good care of yourself is crucial during pregnancy, that can mean something a little different for each mom-to-be.

 

Thankfully, there are some safe and effective ways to combat anxiety and physical discomforts that almost any woman can utilize during pregnancy. Prenatal massage and yoga are two of the best ways to achieve a more comfortable, healthy pregnancy. In fact, these two practices can even offer guidance and techniques that will be helpful during labor and delivery.

Why Prenatal Yoga?

 

All types of yoga, including prenatal yoga, teach you how to connect your breathing with your movements. Yoga strengthens the link between your mind and body. Not only does it combat fatigue and improve mental focus, but it also encourages relaxation, reduces stress, and minimizes common pregnancy discomforts.

 

Practicing prenatal yoga regularly throughout your pregnancy offers a host of physical benefits. The poses and techniques that you learn in class can be helpful during labor and childbirth. Regular yoga practice also builds strength and endurance, while boosting energy levels, which is something any expectant mother will appreciate.

 

At the same time, stretching is useful for relieving general aches and pains, as well as digestive issues that are common during various stages of pregnancy. The gentle routines and stretches of prenatal yoga improve flexibility and mobility in the hips while strengthening the pelvic floor, which can be extremely helpful during childbirth.

 

Many expectant moms experience a bit of nervousness and anxiety during pregnancy, especially as labor and delivery draw near. In your prenatal yoga class, you will learn techniques to help you relax and steady your emotions.

 

The increased mindfulness, grounding and centering that comes with practicing yoga can help you adjust to impending motherhood, too. And, you’ll have the benefit of connecting with a group of other supportive women in your prenatal yoga class, which is a wonderful added bonus many women don’t consider.

Massage, it’s good for you & baby!

 

Science has proven that massage at any stage of life can relieve the symptoms of depression and reduce anxiety and stress. Massage actually decreases the release of cortisol and norepinephrine, two hormones related to stress. At the same time, massage encourages the release of dopamine and serotonin, two feel-good hormones.

 

Much like regular massage, prenatal massage relieves aches and pains in the muscles, joints, and nerves. Prenatal massage is especially beneficial for the Sacro-iliac joint pain and sciatic pain that are both quite common during pregnancy. Massage is also useful for relieving inflammation and swelling, as well as reducing the fluid retention that often accompanies the third trimester.

 

Many women find that receiving prenatal massage throughout their pregnancy helps them fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly. Massage even strengthens the immune system, which is something anyone can appreciate. And, of course, the added weight of a growing baby puts an unaccustomed strain on your body. Massage soothes those overstretched tendons and ligaments to help your body adjust. It’s especially useful for upper back and shoulder pain. 

 

Studies also show that women who receive regular prenatal massage during pregnancy have “25% shorter labors, a 50% lower risk of C-section, and a 30% reduced need for pain medication during labor and delivery.” They have a lower risk of premature delivery and their babies are usually healthier, too. 

 

And the benefits of massage don’t end when your baby is born! Postnatal massage can shorten your recovery time and help return your pelvic floor and digestive system back to normal. It can also help ease the emotional issues many women experience due to the rapidly fluctuating hormones of post-pregnancy.

How to Use Both Practices for a More Comfortable, Healthy Pregnancy

 

First, you’ll want to seek out a yoga instructor and a certified prenatal massage therapist that you feel comfortable working with. Many women feel especially vulnerable during pregnancy, so it’s best to be sure that you can easily communicate with your instructor or therapist.

 

And, of course, you’ll want to ensure that they are both trained and experienced working with women in all stages of pregnancy. Look for a practitioner with special certifications and experience working with expectant mothers, which ensures that they know how to adjust the sessions for safety and comfort. 

 

For example, a yoga teacher who’s been trained in prenatal yoga will know how to adjust each pose so that you don’t strain your already stressed joints and ligaments. At the same time, a prenatal massage practitioner knows how to avoid any potentially dangerous pressure points during the early and late stages of pregnancy that can lead to preterm labor. They’ll also know about positions and pillows to keep you comfortable during your session.

 

Combining both practices during pregnancy nurtures both mom and baby. Mom will feel more in control of her body, confident, and empowered during the entire process. With each class or treatment, your body will learn to relax more deeply, and any aches and pains will be reduced or even taken away completely. Most women experience a cumulative effect with every session and combining both practices makes it even more profound.

Final Thoughts

 

Every expectant mother wants her pregnancy to be happy, healthy, and as comfortable as possible! No matter what stage of pregnancy you’re in, it’s never too late to begin incorporating these two practices into your routine. Even at the latest stages of pregnancy, yoga and prenatal massage can bring some amazing benefits for relieving pain and stress.

 

Have questions about how Luma can support you during your pregnancy (and through the various stages of postpartum)? Contact us with any/all of your questions. We’re here for you.

 

Donna Mauer is a writer currently living in New York City. Find more articles by her here.