Massage therapy is gaining widespread acceptance as
a part of integrated health care. It complements conventional medicine
in stress reduction, muscle relaxation/restoration, and injury prevention.
Studies have shown that it can reduce stress, relieve fatigue, stimulate
the production of endorphins, facilitate relaxation, and promote
a sense of well-being all of which increase efficient body
Research shows that pharmacological pain relief interferes
with the physiological processes of labor and birth and can lead
to unnecessary obstetric interventions that adversely affect the
initiation and duration of breastfeeding. New research is beginning
to confirm that non-pharmacological coping strategies for labor
and birth such as massage, hypnosis, meditation, water therapy,
labor/birth positions provide exactly those benefits that
traditional healers have known for ages.
Since you learned you were pregnant,
how many times have you found your hands resting on your belly?
Too many to count? Your instincts have already taught you that touch
is one of the best ways for you to get to know and love your changing
body and to bond with your soon-to-be baby. Soothing strokes flush
the body with endorphins hormones that not only make you
feel good physically and emotionally but contribute to a calming
in-utero environment. Several studies have shown that massage during
pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period:
Reduces stress and promotes the parasympathetic
Relieves muscle spasms, cramps, and pain, especially in the
back, neck, hips, and legs.
Increases the circulation of blood and lymph throughout the
body, increasing cellular nutrition and reducing edema.
Reduces strain on weight-bearing
Provides emotional support and
Develops the sensory awareness necessary to relax during
first stage labor and to recruit appropriate muscles during the
Improves labor outcomes (e.g. shorter births, lower rates
Promotes postpartum restoration of abdominal muscles and
weight-bearing muscles and joints used during pregnancy, labor,
Supports new mothers as they managed the physical and emotional
challenges of mothering.
It is never too early or too late to begin massage!
Whether your baby is a newborn or several years old, massage can
bring immediate and lasting benefits. Evidence-based practice supports
the use of infant massage. Several studies, most notably from the
Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine,
reveal many of the benefits of infant massage. These include:
Improves weight gain, particularly in
Improves functioning of the circulatory, digestive, and respiratory
Enhances immune system function
Reduces levels of cortisol, the
Helps baby/child to sleep deeper and more soundly
Promotes relaxation and helps babies self-regulate calm,
which reduces crying
Encourages pre-verbal communication
between caregiver and infant
Provides the essential elements of parent-infant bonding
and attachment: eye-to-eye contact, touch, voice, smell, movement,
and thermal regulation.
Provides a positive way for fathers to interact with their
Helps parents ease their stress if they are a working parent
and must be separated from their children for extended periods during