Yoga and Prenatal Massage for Pregnancy
Creating a new life is one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of a woman’s life. Unfortunately, pregnancy also comes with a host of uncomfortable symptoms, such as aches and pains, digestive issues, and emotional anxiety. There’s a new life growing inside of you, and even if this isn’t your first child, every pregnancy is different. Practicing self-care during pregnancy is crucial for both your mental and physical health, as well as the development of your growing baby.
While we can all agree that avoiding harmful medications and stress is key during pregnancy, there are some natural and effective ways to get relief from physical discomforts and stress without putting your baby at risk. Yoga and prenatal massage are amazing tools for achieving a more comfortable and healthy pregnancy! In fact, these two practices can even offer strategies and tips that could make labor and delivery a little easier, and what mom-to-be wouldn’t want that?
The Benefits of Yoga During Pregnancy
Yoga is all about forming a connection between your body and your mind. It teaches you about linking your breathing and your movements. At any stage of life, yoga is useful for combating stress, reducing fatigue, and improving focus. During pregnancy, prenatal yoga can minimize common pregnancy discomforts, such as lower back and pelvic pain.
When yoga is practiced regularly during pregnancy, it offers a host of physical benefits. Prenatal yoga teaches breathing and mindfulness techniques that can be helpful during labor and delivery, too. Over time, yoga will help you build endurance and strength while giving you more energy, which is something any pregnant woman can appreciate.
Not only that, but performing yoga poses and stretches relieves many of the aches, pains, and digestive issues that come with a rapidly expanding tummy. Prenatal yoga’s gentle stretches and routines will improve the flexibility in your pelvis and hips while strengthening the muscles in your pelvic floor, which will be crucial during delivery.
It’s normal for an expectant mother to experience emotional highs and lows during pregnancy, especially as childbirth approaches. In prenatal yoga class, the instructor will teach you techniques to help you steady your emotions and create a sense of calmness that’s vital for your growing baby’s development.
Learning how to be more mindful, grounded, and centered can also help you deal with the natural anxieties of impending motherhood, too. Not only that, but you’ll also have the benefit of connecting with other expecting moms in your prenatal yoga class, which provides an important support system some women may not normally have.
The Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Massage is a wonderful tool for relieving depression and reducing stress and anxiety at any stage of life. It actually slows the release of norepinephrine and cortisol, which are two stress hormones. At the same time, it encourages the release of the feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine.
Just like regular therapeutic massage, pregnancy massage relieves muscle, joint, and nerve pain. It’s very useful for relieving the sciatica pain that is so common during later pregnancy. Prenatal massage is also wonderful for reducing fluid retention and relieving inflammation and swelling that can be so uncomfortable during the third trimester.
For many women, pregnancy massage relieves insomnia, allowing them to fall asleep easier and sleep more deeply. It can even strengthen the immune system, which is a wonderful bonus anytime, but especially helpful during pregnancy.
There’s no doubt that the additional weight of a growing baby puts an unaccustomed strain on a woman’s body. Massage is amazing for soothing those overstretched ligaments and tendons in your abdomen and pelvis, as well as the back and shoulders.
Women’s health experts at the Yinova Center, an NYC clinic for prenatal massages, also report that women who receive consistent prenatal massage have a 50% reduced risk of needing a C-section, 25% shorter labors, and a 30% reduction in requests for pain medication during labor and childbirth. The risk of preterm labor is also much lower.
Just like yoga, the benefits of massage can continue even after your baby is born. Postnatal massage is useful for returning the digestive system and pelvic floor back to normal, as well as shortening recovery times. It’s also amazing for relieving the emotional highs and lows many women experience due to the rapidly fluctuating hormones that follow childbirth.
How to Utilize Both Practices for a More Comfortable Pregnancy
The first step will be finding a yoga teacher and a certified prenatal massage therapist that you are comfortable with. It’s normal to feel vulnerable and emotional during pregnancy, so be sure to choose professionals that you can talk to easily.
When you’re choosing your practitioners, be sure they have specialized training and experience working with women during every trimester. You want someone who knows how to adjust each session for your comfort and safety.
For example, a yoga instructor with specialized training in prenatal yoga will know which adjustments to make for each pose so that you don’t overstretch your already strained ligaments and joints. On the other hand, a massage therapist with training in prenatal massage knows how to position you with pillows for support to ensure your comfort during each session. They’ll also know how to avoid potentially dangerous pressure points during the first and third trimester that could lead to premature contractions.
Combining prenatal yoga and massage nurtures both you and your baby. You will feel more in control of your body, have more confidence, and feel more empowered throughout every stage of pregnancy and childbirth. With every session, your body will learn to relax even deeper, reducing aches and pains and relieving or preventing other pregnancy discomforts. For most women, combining these two practices regularly throughout pregnancy produces a cumulative effect that makes the benefits even more profound.
Every mom-to-be wants her pregnancy to be as comfortable and healthy as possible. No matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, it’s never too late to add prenatal yoga and massage into your pregnancy self-care routine. Even in the third trimester, these two practices are wonderful tools for relieving stress and discomfort.
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