Some women experience more discomfort during child birth than others, which is why they may call on a registered massage therapist to help ease pain during the process of labour. An RMT can provide prenatal care and may even be present in the hospital room, alongside a midwife, prior to their patient giving birth. Trained professionals use a range of therapeutic techniques to provide relief from the musculoskeletal pain brought about by contractions, as well as to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with labour.
Contractions are no doubt the most common source of pain associated with child birth. Along with contractions, the stress of giving birth can also cause an expecting mother’s shoulders to progressively hunch, creating tension and pain throughout the shoulder and neck area. Unchecked, this tension can spread to several different parts of the body, making massage therapy an optimal treatment for relief and enhanced wellbeing during labour.
Massage therapy courses aimed at prenatal treatment may focus specifically on locating and easing contraction pains in a woman’s body. It is common for women to feel contractions most strongly in their lower back, making back massage a typical treatment before and during child birth. Decompression work can be very effective for relief of contraction pain, especially when the treatment is guided by the patient to target her most affected areas.
Leading up to and during child birth, a woman may experience sore feet – caused by the extra weight she is carrying. Administered by an experienced RMT, a foot massage can be instrumental in relieving localized pain and in encouraging overall relaxation during labour. Some women may also experience cold feet, either from having their feet elevated for extended periods of time, or from poor circulation. Foot massage can provide an excellent way to warm up the feet while also stimulating blood flow.
When a woman in labour has an epidural to desensitize her lower body to pain, her feet may also lose their sensitivity. In this case, a foot massage can be replaced by a comforting hand massage as an effective way of soothing the patient during labour.
Massage therapy of all types stimulates endorphins – natural mood enhancing neuropeptides. It is normal for a woman to experience anxiety and stress prior to and during childbirth, and massage therapy can provide an essential antidote to a build-up of tension. Furthermore, a relaxing shoulder massage performed by a professional with massage therapy training can do wonders to help regulate patient breathing and provide more oxygen to the baby.
RMTs often use massage oils to provide additional comfort to their clients. When working with a pregnant client, however, it is very important to ensure that the essential oils are safe for expecting women. It is usually recommended that any essential oil be diluted with a base oil such as almond or grape seed. Massage oils such as chamomile, bergamot and rose are known to be relaxing, whereas lavender has been known to help sooth contraction pain for women in child birth.
Have you or someone you know used massage therapy to help ease the process of childbirth?