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Massage & Pregnancy
Bodywork techniques and exercises are beneficial in all stages of pregnancy. Avoiding to 'reinvent the wheel', I have taken the following directly from the website, as I can hardly add to such a good description. This site is highly recommended as a source for women in pregnancy.

Benefits of bodywork in pregnancy
There are many potential benefits of bodywork for both mother and baby.

Mother to be

1. Complementary care for support for physical changes eg bodywork for headaches rather than medication, strategies for working with common complaints such as puffy legs, varicose veins, back or shoulder tension.

2. Relaxation.

3. A focus on positive aspects of pregnancy such as the connection with the baby, her changing body and emotions.

4. A time fears or concerns or fears can be voiced.

5. Continuity of support from seeing the same bodyworker through the pregnancy who may be at the birth and then continue to work with her postnatally.

6. A space in which:
    • Breathing and relaxation techniques can support the woman to relax and tune into her body, baby and feelings
    • Exercises can be shown which can support the physical changes of pregnancy and be useful for birth preparation ie stretches to alleviate leg cramps, forward leaning to relieve back ache and encourage foetal positioning
    • Postural awareness can be encouraged so that the physical changes can be better integrated
    • The partner and other children can be involved in learning massage techniques and other self care strategies. This will help encourage communication between the couple and family and facilitate pre natal bonding with the baby.

7. The partner can receive bodywork and be supported in their role

Benefits for the baby

1. A calm, relaxed environment is likely to be of benefit for the baby as well as the mother

2. Helps to encourage mother/baby connection/bonding

3. May help encourage optimal fetal positioning

Benefits of work preparing for labour and during labour

Benefits for woman and partner: offers tools to support the woman

• to tune into her body and learn to pace herself and prepare for labour physically and emotionally
• to be more aware of her baby
• to trust in birth and increase her confidence that she can have a positive birth experience
• to help her examine her attitudes, needs, and hopes for her birthing experience
• to provide strategies for working with pain
• to include her partner by offering practical strategies for them to be involved during labour

Benefits for baby

• may help the baby get in good position for labour (optimal foetal position)
• if the woman is more relaxed it will tend to create a more relaxing environment for the baby
• helps support pre-natal bonding between the parents and their baby

Potential benefits may include:

• shorter labour,
decreased need for caesarean deliveries, forceps and vacuum extraction, oxytocin augmentation, and analgesia.
l• ess difficult and painful labours
• reductions in anxiety scores, positive feelings about the birth experience, and increased rates of breastfeeding initiation.
• postpartum benefits include decreased symptoms of depression, improved self-esteem, exclusive breastfeeding, and sensitivity of the woman to her child's needs

Benefits of postnatal work

Benefits for mother and partner

• Helps promote postnatal recovery, facilitating the restoration of pre-pregnancy physiology e.g. by supporting abdominal and pelvic floor toning, relieving back and shoulder aches, improving circulation and lymphatic flow, supporting energy flows May help prevent and provide support in cases of postnatal depression
• Touch may help in the birthing recovery process by helping relieve stress and trauma, especially if the birth experience differed from the woman’s expectations. It may also help promote physical recovery and support healing from the effects of any strains or medical interventions experienced during birth.
• Helps promote a positive relationship with her partner and baby: the partner can be involved in providing bodywork for mother and baby. The partner could also receive bodywork to support them in their adjustment to parenthood.
• Provides support for the emotional demands of early mothering
• Provides a relaxed environment
• Helps promote sleep, giving space for rest, easing fatigue
• Offers support for breastfeeding

Benefits for baby

• Can offer a space for the mother to be with the baby without other demands
• Offers support for bonding and feeding
• Emotional development

Long term implications

• Supports the family unit in making the transitions
• Helps lays foundations to support the long term emotional and physical health of mother, father and baby

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