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   news News of medicine. 2010 | Archive

Prenatal massage therapy: Alleviating pain


Massage therapy has generally been known to bring about a state of relaxation and wellbeing.

During a state of pain during labor, is it possible for massage to actually help? Research has a lot to tell us about it If a pregnant woman visits her healthcare provider she is generally offered a traditional choice of analgesics, labor epidurals, pudendal blocks, and/or local anesthesia. It is not common to be offered complementary and alternative methods (CAM) of pain relief that is available. Knowledgeable healthcare and pregnant mothers utilize CAM as an adjunct therapy for pain relief.

There are various types of CAM’s that are used particularly for labor pain relief.
(1) Bioelectromagnetics such as transcutaneous nerve stimulation and electroacupuncture.
(2) Intracutaneous nerve stimulation, sterile water injections given right under the skin bilaterally on the sacrum.
(3) Acupuncture, generally through stimulation of anatomic points with a needle.
(4) Herbal medicines similar to St. John’s wort, gingko, echinacea, saw palmetto, and others.
(5) Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from botanical sources.
(6) Therapeutic touch is a type of massaging, holding, and clutching of the mother during pain.
(7) Muscle tension release.
(8) Reflexology, a type of massage that uses certain reflex points in the feet and hands to treat pain.
(9) Acupressure systems use points in the body to treat pain.
(10) Hydrotherapy is the external application of water.
(11) Mind-body interventions such as hypnosis and biofeedback in the alleviation of pain.

 In a survey of licensed and certified midwives 67.1 percent recommended massage therapy to their patients. This was second only to herbal therapy recommendations (73.2 percent). Various types of touch and massage have been recommended to control pain during labor. It was noted that touching, holding or clutching during the prenatal period alleviated some pain.

Massage in certain areas of the body such as the periumbilical area, the sacrum, the lower back area provided pain relief. The pressure utilized during the massage depended on the pregnant woman. To some it was important who was providing the massage. There were some who preferred not to be touched at all. A firm massage is recommended to increase the force of uterine contractions during delivery.

Compressing the abdomen by embracing the abdomen of the pregnant mother is considered to be helpful in reducing the pain associated with the contractions. Massaging the neck, back, shoulders, arms abdomen and legs can reduce pain and swelling. Women with lower back pain can benefit from a massage accompanied by a heating menthol preparation.

Massaging the perineal area with oil lubrication such as olive oil showed to reduce the number of incisions and tearing during childbirth in first time vaginally delivering women. Prenatal massage has proven to regulate hormones, reduce swelling, improve circulation, improve sleep, reduce joint pain, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and help cope with the stress of pregnancy.

It is recommended that the expectant mother wait beyond the 12th week of pregnancy to schedule her first prenatal massage. Chicago offers plenty of options for a prenatal massage and has an array of massage therapists who specially trained in prenatal massage. Your concerns and questions must be directed to your physician and follow his or her advise. If you have any other questions please send an email to the author.

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