Being pregnant is one of the most incredible experiences of a woman’s life. It’s a time of emotional highs and lows. You are creating a new life, and no matter how many books you read, every pregnancy is different. While we can all agree that self-care is especially vital during pregnancy, there is no one size fits all self-care routine that will work for every expectant mother.
Thankfully, there are some wonderful universal ways to combat stress and anxiety during pregnancy. The benefits of prenatal massage and prenatal yoga are numerous. They are two of the best ways to relieve the physical and emotional stressors that many pregnant women experience. In fact, they can even offer techniques and guidance that can help you during labor and delivery.
How Prenatal Yoga Can Help
Practicing prenatal yoga teaches you how to link your breathing with your movements. It brings greater awareness to your body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is critical for improving mental focus, lowering stress levels, inducing relaxation, and even reducing common pregnancy discomfort.
Prenatal yoga offers so many physical benefits, too. The asanas and techniques learned in class will be extremely helpful throughout labor and delivery. Practicing yoga regularly also builds strength, endurance, and increases energy levels, which is a real blessing for any expectant mother.
At the same time, yoga can help relieve the aches, pains, and digestive issues that usually accompany pregnancy. Learning the gentle stretches and routines will strengthen your pelvic floor and improve flexibility and mobility in your hips, which can be extremely beneficial during labor and delivery.
In addition, practicing prenatal yoga during your pregnancy can relieve the nervousness and anxiety that many women experience. These feelings are especially common in the later stages of pregnancy. You will learn techniques that will help you steady your emotions and achieve more profound relaxation.
The increased mindfulness, grounding, and centering that comes with yoga practice is beneficial during delivery, and it can help you adjust to motherhood as well. The added benefit of a supportive community of other pregnant women in your class is something you won’t get many other places.
The Amazing Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Science has proven that prenatal massage can significantly reduce stress and anxiety and even relieve symptoms of depression. It works by decreasing the release of stress-producing hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. At the same time, it increases the release of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin.
Prenatal massage can also bring relief for common pregnancy issues like muscle, joint, and nerve pain. Massage is especially beneficial for sciatic pain and Sacro-iliac joint dysfunction that are very common during pregnancy. It helps to reduce swelling and inflammation and also enables you to fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly. Your immune system will even be strengthened.
As you can imagine, carrying a rapidly growing baby places a strain on your body in unusual places. Massage can ease those overstretched ligaments and tendons to help your body adjust to all the changes. It can even bring relief to those suffering from shoulder or upper back strain.
Believe it or not, that’s not all that prenatal massage can do! Studies have proven that women who receive regular prenatal massage sessions throughout their pregnancy have less pain during labor and delivery and often even have shorter labors. Their babies are usually healthier, and there are fewer incidents of premature labor and birth. If that’s not enough to convince you, these women also have shorter recovery times and are able to establish a bond with their babies more quickly.
How These Two Techniques Can Work Together
Start by seeking out a prenatal massage therapist and yoga teacher that you feel comfortable working with. You may feel very vulnerable during your sessions, so be sure you can communicate with your therapist or instructor easily. Do your research to make sure they are properly educated and have experience working with women in all stages of pregnancy.
Look for practitioners who are specially certified to work with expectant mothers. That’s the best way to know they have the specialized training and precautions necessary to take the best care of you in this stage of life. For example, a yoga instructor who’s been trained in prenatal yoga will know how to adjust the poses so that you don’t put a strain on your joints and ligaments and cause a painful injury. At the same time, a certified prenatal massage therapist is essential because they will know how to provide the most benefit while avoiding dangerous pressure points during early and late stages of pregnancy that can lead to preterm labor.
When these two techniques are combined during pregnancy, both mom and baby are nurtured and cared for. Mom will feel more confident and empowered during the entire experience. With each session or class, your body will learn to relax more deeply, and any strain will be lessened or even taken away completely. You will find that there is a cumulative effect with every session and combining both therapies makes it even stronger.
Every mom-to-be wants a happier, healthier pregnancy, shorter labor with less pain, and a healthier baby! It’s never too late to start. Even if you are in the later stages of your pregnancy, you can still reap some of the benefits offered by prenatal yoga and massage.
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