Pregnancy Mass-ahhhh-ge
By Laura Sadler, CMT

Congratulations, you are having a baby! What an exciting time for you and your family. But wait, now you have doctor's appointments and work and baby showers, not to mention preparing your home before you actually have your baby. This is an amazing time in your life, but it can be stressful too. Your life is changing as well as your body.

As your body changes you may experience some physical discomfort including lower back pain, hip pain, swelling in your feet, ankles, hands, etc. Did you know that you also have a higher risk of developing varicose veins in your legs? The reason for this is that the blood pressure in your legs increases as you gain weight. After your blood pumps down your legs, it has to pump itself back up to the heart and lungs. The veins in your legs have little valves that keep the blood from flowing backwards during this process. Varicose veins develop when those little valves become weak and permanently break due to the increased pressure.

There is hope! Did you know that a regular pregnancy massage can alleviate most of the discomfort you feel? Although your doctor may prescribe something for swelling, Massage Therapy will not only reduce swelling, but it will also reduce the risk of varicose veins and reduce tension in your lower back. You may wonder how this can be possible, but it is. Here's how it works: Your swelling can be reduced by what is called lymphatic drainage. During the massage, the therapist gently pushes the water toward the heart. The lymphatic system is one of the garbage dumps in your body and when you push the water through this system the body will naturally filter and eliminate it. Massage Therapy increases circulation and lowers the blood pressure, thus reducing your risk of developing varicose veins. And, as you may already know, Massage Therapy is wonderful for relieving back pain and tension. The additional benefit you receive from Massage Therapy is overall stress reduction and you can definitely use some of that whether you are pregnant or not.

When you have a pregnancy massage you normally lay on your side supported by comfortable pillows. The therapist will massage your neck, back, hips and back of your legs, and then you turn to the other side. Next, you lie on your back with a pillow under your knees and legs for support and the therapist will do lymphatic drainage on your feet and ankles if needed. Additionally, they massage the front of the legs and arms. Finally, the massage will end with a relaxing head and neck massage.

Your body will thank you if you take advantage of massage therapy during your pregnancy. Check with your doctor first, and know that it is normally perfectly safe to receive a massage after the first trimester. Now you can actually enjoy the physical changes of being pregnant and truly be comfortable in your body.

Laura Sadler is a Certified Massage Therapist and Reiki Master in Los Angeles. She also has a B.A. in Psychology from UC Irvine. Laura became a healing arts practitioner after living with chronic pain due to sports injuries. It was through her experiences in healing herself that she learned she has a special gift and true compassion for those dealing with pain or stress.