- Are you pregnant and in need of some pampering?
- Feeling the effects of a little human growing inside of you and need some relief?
A prenatal massage can help relieve and reduce the not so joyful issues that can be a part of one life's most blissful of times. Pregnant women get prenatal massage in order to help relieve back and hip pain, muscle tension, swelling, sciatica nerve pain and headaches.
Massage might also help expectant moms with the stress and anxiety that can be associated with an upcoming birth. Muriel Lyn Morgan, a New York state licensed massage therapist in Greenwood Lake in Orange County offers prenatal massage during clients" second and third trimester, but only after their doctors have given the "green light."
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In addition to alleviating aches and pains, Morgan says these massages improve circulation, which aids in better sleep, and ease stress on the body and mind. "You have another being inside of you that is taking over your body without any of your control. Sometimes those little aches turn into big aches, and it can make you miserable," Morgan says, adding that she, herself, went for massages while pregnant. "Don't be miserable, get a massage."
Morgan says less stress for mom equals less stress on the baby, so both mother and child benefit from prenatal massage. She also does house calls throughout Orange and Rockland counties. Speaking from personal experience, Hope Garcia, a two-time mommy, dog trainer and acupuncturist from Washingtonville in Orange County highly recommends getting a prenatal massage. "My body was hurting so bad from carrying around the extra weight and all that our bodies go through while pregnant," Garcia says.
She went for massages during both of her pregnancies which helped her feel better, both mentally and physically. She says she was relaxed, enjoyed what she described as her "me time," and appreciated the eased tension and relief from sore muscles she was experiencing.
She believes that "babies feel everything mom does, and by mom being relaxed and taking care of herself, the baby gets the good energy." Looking back, she says she should've treated herself more often to a massage prior to the arrival of her little ones. "Once the baby comes, 'me time' is far and few between, if at all. This is mom's opportunity to do something for her and help baby relax, too," Garcia says.
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Hudson Valley Birth and Bodywork's owner Dana Scarano, who is a licensed massage therapist and a certified birth doula who operates throughout Dutchess and Ulster counties, offers clients prenatal massage throughout pregnancy.
She says that licensed massage therapists are specifically trained to know the pressure points to avoid on a pregnant woman's body, so as not to stimulate labor. Scarano said the multiple benefits of prenatal massage include the reduction of stress and tension, increased oxygenation of the blood for both mother and baby, reduction of muscle strain, back pain and sore feet, easing of anxiety and the reduction of swelling caused by fluid retention.
Other benefits are improved sleep, stabilization of hormone levels and stable blood pressure. Because it's not possible for expectant moms to lie flat on their expanding bellies, Scarano says she uses a pregnancy body cushion on top of her regular massage table to keep prenatal massage clients comfortable and correctly positioned.
"The cushion has three separate sections that can be moved around and adjusted," Scarano says. And when the appropriate time arrives, Scarano says, she has additional help she might be able to provide through massage. "As a woman closely approaches and sometimes passes her due date, the therapist can then work on those areas and pressure points to help stimulate contractions to start so they can avoid having to be induced artificially with Pitocin," Scarano says.
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Licensed massage therapists will direct prospective prenatal clients to consult with their doctor first. It's also important for expecting moms to share how and what they are feeling during their first visit with a therapist so that a massage therapy can be tailored to each person's specific needs.
Natalie Golonka, who is a licensed massage therapist at The Arnold House in Livingston Manor in Sullivan County says she is a big advocate of the benefits of prenatal massage. "It triggers the parasympathetic nervous system and brings on a state of relaxation, harmony, and healing," Golonka says. "The heart rate is normalized, brainwaves go into a meditating mode, and happy hormones are released...it gets blood circulating and nutrients to where they need to go faster and more efficiently."
When she was pregnant, Golonka says she was also the recipient of prenatal massage. She says it helped alleviate some of the discomfort associated with pregnancy and provided some pain relief. Golonka said that she also has private clients and travels throughout Sullivan, Ulster and Orange counties.
According to Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage in New York City, our state has one of the highest educational standards for massage therapy in the country.
READ MORE: Are you visiting a licensed practitioner?
When you contact a massage therapist, as part of the process in finding about their services, you can ask them how frequently they do prenatal massage and what type of special equipment and positioning they use. And, again, make sure to always consult with your doctor before scheduling your massage appointment.
Stacey Lutz is new to the Hudson Valley. She is a writer and a mom, who enjoys hiking and decided very early on to introduce her little one, Hunter, to the great outdoors.