Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Why pregnancy massage is good for you and your baby

Massage stimulates the acupressure points situated along the meridian lines of the body, say UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, who specialises in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy.

Massage also has the following benefits:

v It relaxes: The parasympathetic nervous system is activated and the endorphin ‘love’ hormones are released. This brings the body back into balance by reducing the metabolic rate, blood pressure, anxiety and improving circulation and sleep.
v It promotes growth and development: Stimulation of the tactile nerve endings in the skin provides information about the outside world and helps the brain organise its circuitry. During massage muscular co-ordination is encouraged and growth hormones flowing from the pituitary gland increase
v It stimulates the skin and boosts the immune system: Massage helps to keep the pores open for the skin to eliminate toxins and the therapeutic effects of oils are absorbed through the skin. It also assists the flow of the lymphatic system that transports immune cells through the body and removes waste products.
v It promotes optimum muscular and joint activity: As muscle contracts, metabolic waste is ‘milked’ into the venous and lymphatic systems ready for excretion. Together with gentle joint movements it can also help maintain joint mobility.
v It reduces pain perception: Massage stimulates the brain’s release of endorphin ‘feel-good’ hormones that also act as pain suppressors, and occupies sensory pathways to the brain, ‘gating’ out some of the pain signals. It also lowers levels of stress hormones. This is why having a massage when you have gone into labour (if practical!) can really help.
v It aids digestion: Relaxation through massage can help digestion (stress is known to disrupt it). Abdominal massage can aid the elimination process in the large and small intestines. It also influences intestinal functions by stimulating the vagus nerve to facilitate food absorption. Abdominal pain, constipation and indigestion can be reduced by regular massage of the abdomen and the back.

If you are pregnant and are thinking about having a massage, make sure the massage therapist is qualified or experienced in pregnancy massage, say UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown. To find out more, contact UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown Dip.ION (mBANT), specialist in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy care in the city of London, EC2.