This Pregnancy Massage is accredited by the Royal College of Midwives.

Everyone knows massage reduces musculoskeletal strain and pain, reduces stress and promotes relaxation, but massage also plays an especially important role in pregnancy. The female body goes through more than its fair share of strain, pain and stress during gestation and specialist pregnancy massage may contribute to a shorter and less painful childbirth experience.

How does Pregnancy Massage work?

Because endorphins, the happy hormones which increase with massage, are 18 times more effective than morphine in relieving pain, if a mother-to-be is in the habit of being able to relax, then she is more likely to keep relaxed during the stress of childbirth. These happy hormones cross the placenta, so the longer that baby can keep floating in happy hormones, the better it is for her or him, antenatally, during birth and at the beginning of their life outside the womb.

According to author and practitioner Carole Osborne (CMT, NCBTMB), women and their partners who learn relaxation techniques are better able to adapt to stress during pregnancy and labour and in the days and years of parenting (Nicols and Humenck 2000; Hetherington 2007). Also, perinatal specialists recommend that women prepare for labour by practising deep sustained levels of relaxation for 45 to 60 minutes without falling asleep, especially in the last 6-8 weeks of pregnancy (Samuels and Samuels 1996). This is the exact length of most massage sessions, and the environment we provide is very conducive to relaxation: a quiet, calming place, with soothing music, muted lighting, appropriate comfortable positioning providing maximum support to allow muscles to relax and a nurturing touch to encourage a feeling of safety and security.

An additional reason why relaxation is crucial for pregnant women is because increased relaxation facilitates healthy circulation to the uterus which, in turn, improves foetal development.

In addition, specialist pregnancy massage offers the following benefits:

- Enhanced immunological function

- Relieves varicose veins

- Increased oxytocin production, blood circulation and lymph circulation

- Reduced fear and anxiety

- Facilitates hormonal, respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary and other physiological processes during pregnancy

- Reduced oedema, maternal blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate

- Increased uterine blood supply to enhance foetal health

- Facilitates transitions through emotional support and physical nurturing

- Contributes to developing flexibility and the kinaesthetic awareness necessary to actively

participate in the birth process

- Fosters nurturing maternal touch

- Reduced childbirth complications, medications and interventions

Pregnancy massage differs from other forms of massage because it is never delivered prone and uses specialist side-lying and semi reclined techniques. It also takes into account the extra sensitivity to pain sometimes experienced by the expectant mother, as the release of stress hormones will affect the baby.

Pregnancy massage practices an awareness of typical specific key changes to a woman's body that take place during pregnancy: arches of feet may collapse; increased risk of headaches resulting from hormonal effects on blood vessels; increased mucous production or increased tension in neck and upper back; relaxing softening ligaments and other connective tissue alters musculoskeletal balance and alignment; separation of symphysis pubis, among many many others.

It is important to note that pregnancy massage is not intended to replace appropriate medical and prenatal care.

Practitioners: Cat Rush