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ID-100214179Two New Pregnancy and Postpartum Must-Haves

Mom” is always on the lookout for sound nutritional products or herbal remedies for pregnancy and postpartum. Two new products have made their debut in the last six months that have “Mom” raving – BabyCare Prenatal Essentials and MILKY!™

USANA Prenatal

BabyCare Prenatal Essentials
A healthy mom means a healthy baby! For complete nutrition through pregnancy and while nursing, USANA Health Sciences now offers BabyCare Prenatal Essentials, which are prenatal vitamins that provide the proper levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to fill in many of the gaps in a mother’s daily nutrition. The new BabyCare Prenatal Essentials includes USANA’s Prenatal Mega Antioxidant vitamin supplement and Prenatal Chelated Mineral supplement with added iron to help support a healthy pregnancy for mom and healthy growth and development for the baby. www.usana.com

milkybox2

MILKY!™
Celebrated TV stars and new moms Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley have a new product line, Need™, which includes healthy, innovative products for moms and moms-to-be. The first product in the line for postpartum moms is MILKY!™, a 2.5 ounce, lactation-enhancing herbal tea supplement created for moms who choose to breastfeed. MILKY!™ is a healthy and all-natural product to assist all breastfeeding women including those coping with milk production issues. When consumed twice daily, MILKY!™ increases both the quality and quantity of breast milk a mother produces. Moms can say goodbye to brewing and consuming a cup of harsh-tasting fenugreek tea three times a day and can now enjoy the same benefits with a delicious strawberry flavor (which “Mom” loves!) and on-the-go convenience of MILKY!™. www.needbrands.com. (Consult your healthcare provider about the use of herbs when nursing a baby. NOT FOR USE DURING PREGNANCY.)

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this piece. Top image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.*

ID-100163322FASD Awareness: What’s Nutrition Got To Do With It?

By Lauren Bartell Weiss, Ph.D.

As International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day approaches, people all around the world are planning events to raise awareness about the potential risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy and the difficulties of people and families who struggle with FASD. The first FASDay was celebrated on 9/9/99. This day was chosen so that on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy, a woman should abstain from drinking alcohol. As a published researcher specializing in nutrition and it’s impact during pregnancy, I thought about how I could do my part during FASD Awareness Month. It came down to spreading the word about what I know best- good nutrition.

You might be asking yourself, “what does nutrition have to do with FASD?” The answer might surprise you. Let’s start with some facts about alcohol consumption. Approximately 60% of child-bearing-aged women consume alcohol and it has been suggested that up to 30% of women drink while pregnant. In addition, about 50% of pregnancies are unplanned and it is likely that a woman may unintentionally drink during the early stages of pregnancy.

Here’s where nutrition comes into play. While the recommendation is still to abstain from consuming alcohol during pregnancy, there are ways to reduce potential risks to the baby by optimizing your nutrition status. While eating a healthy balanced diet is very important for health and disease prevention in general, women of childbearing age, especially those who consume alcohol, should also take a multivitamin/prenatal supplement to maximize their nutritional health in the event that they do unexpectedly become pregnant. Pregnancy increases the demand for many vitamins and minerals in order to adequately support a developing fetus and alcohol can interfere with nutritional supply from the mom to the unborn baby. It can also change the metabolism of the nutrients. This can be dangerous by potentially increasing the risk of pregnancy and baby complications and, also, of birth defects. There is strong evidence that a deficiency in folic acid is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects. Folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy protects against this. The same may hold true for other vitamins and minerals in the protection of FASD so taking extra vitamin supplements before and during pregnancy may serve as a type of “insurance policy” if a pregnancy were to occur.

A new study I co-authored found a link between multivitamin use and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. We looked at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s multiple-state Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) of more than 100,000 women between 2004 and 2008. The women answered a series of questions involving their alcohol use before pregnancy as well as multivitamin consumption during it. The study found women who reported consuming alcohol regularly or binge drinking were significantly less likely to take a multivitamin supplement compared with those who did not report alcohol consumption. The findings of this study, in addition to other research, emphasize the importance for all women of childbearing age, especially those who drink alcohol, to take a multivitamin supplement regularly whether they’re planning to have children or not.

I now encourage you to do your part during FASD Awareness Month by spreading the word about daily multivitamin use among your circle of friends. Let them know, a prenatal vitamin today could make for a healthier child tomorrow, even if they don’t plan on starting a family for a very long time.

MotherToBaby has facts sheets on alcohol’s risks during pregnancy and breastfeeding, which can be found at MotherToBaby.org. For more information or to get a personalized risk assessment about alcohol, medications or other exposures, call MotherToBaby toll-free at (866) 626-6847. MotherToBaby is a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS). MotherToBaby and OTIS are suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About the Author

Lauren Bartell Weiss, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UC San Diego’s Center for the Promotion of Maternal Health and Infant Development and co-author of “Associations Between Multivitamin Supplement Use and Alcohol Consumption Before Pregnancy: Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2004 to 2008,” which was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research earlier this year.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

5 Natural and Easy Ways to Improve Your Fertility

Any couple that has considered their options for increasing fertility is no doubt a little worried about the possible results of hormonal or pharmacological means. Just look at what happened to octomom Nadya Suleman. Messing with your body chemistry could not only result in way more kids than you’re planning for, but it can also lead to uncomfortable side effects along the way, and there is no guarantee that a pregnancy will occur. And for the green would-be parents looking to reduce their carbon footprint, natural options are no doubt preferable. So here are a few easy adjustments you might make in order to raise fertility and optimize your chances for conception, sans pills, shots, and other unnatural treatments.

1. Adjust your diet and exercise. Being healthy and fit can only help to prepare your body for incubation, so your first efforts to improve fertility should fall in this area. If your regimen currently includes a lot of processed foods and very little exercise, there are several simple changes you can make. For starters, consider switching to natural or even organic foods. A diet that features mainly lean meats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products (in proper portions) will help you to maintain or even lose weight. And adding moderate exercise 3-4 times per week in 30-minute sessions (as recommended by doctors) could help, as well. If you happen to be in good health already, you might consider whether or not your workout routine is rather extreme (90-minutes of intense exercise every day, for example) as this could also tip the scales. This applies to both women and men.

2. Take vitamins. Lowered levels of fertility may occur if your body is lacking essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. So get tested if necessary and ask your doctor to recommend ways in which you can increase any nutrients you are lacking. You might be able to get them through the foods you consume, but daily vitamin supplements could also be an option.

3. Avoid extra fluids. This doesn’t mean you should stop drinking water – hydration is essential to optimum levels of health! But there are certain areas where extra fluids could affect your fertility. So if you’re using lubricants (which can kill sperm) or douching (which can alter your pH balance and adversely affect the conditions that facilitate conception) you might want to give up the extra fluids for a while and see if it helps.

4. Ditch the briefs. Sperm seem to flourish in cooler conditions, so if dad is a fan of the tighty-whities, he could try switching to boxers and wearing looser pants in an effort to lower the temperature and ensure maximum levels of viable sperm.

5. Watch the calendar…and the clock. As you probably know, your best chances of conceiving fall during ovulation, which generally occurs between days 11 and 21 of your cycle (although this will vary from woman to woman and even from month to month). So you’ll want to focus your efforts on this time of the month. What you might not realize is that the time of day could make a difference, as well. Studies have shown that, on average, sperm count tends to be higher in the morning, so if your nocturnal activities haven’t yielded much success in forming the family cord, you might want to shift the hour of your efforts. Of course, these steps won’t technically increase your fertility, but they could just help you to target your strongest natural window for conception.

Lightweight, comfortable, and available in a wide range of colors and patterns, Coobie has designed the ultimate bras and camis for every shape & size! “Mom” is expecting, and the seamless bras & camisole tops have fit nicely throughout pregnancy – they truly are one size fits all! The material used for both the bras and camisoles is extremely soft and stretchy, and is very comfortable against a tummy that is being stretched by a growing baby. You will want to own a variety of colors! The bras are made of a lycra/nylon blend, with adjustable straps, and make an excellent choice for wearing this summer as the weather continues to heat up outside.

Available in styles with lace trimming or the standard scoop neck, Coobie garments come in an abundant array of vibrant colors, offering a pop of color to your essential everyday outfit. Coobie also offers slight shape enhancements with the option of removable padding. To learn more or to order online, please visit ShopCoobie.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

One gorgeously green wrap – so many unique uses! Made of super-soft Micro Modal, which is created from the pulp of ethically farmed Beech trees that can be re-grown over and over again so less trees are needed in the production of the wrap, the Japanese-inspired Oramaki™ can be a slim-fitting skirt, an easy top, a double layer underneath a shirt, or a warm hug to pamper and soothe during pregnancy!

This is why “Mom” is loving the Oramaki™ at the moment – she is expecting, and this lovely wrap has made quite the difference when worn on her ever-expanding belly, especially at night, as it holds her belly lovingly while sleeping! Why choose the Oramaki™ during pregnancy?

  • Oramaki’s soft, hugging action pampers and calms during every stage of pregnancy.
  • When your pants stop fitting, the Oramaki is the perfect way to cover that opened button and save the cost of an early pregnancy wardrobe.
  • And when your baby bulge is in full bloom your Oramaki will help support your back and the weight of your belly on your inner organs and bladder.
  • Once baby arrives, your Oramaki converts to the perfect breast feeding cover-up.

Available in single layered in white only, or double layered styles in nude, black or pink, the Oramaki™ comes in sizes small, medium, and large. It makes an excellent gift for any expecting mom!

To learn more about the benefits of using the Oramaki™, visit Oramaki.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Preparing Yourself for Delivery Day

Preparing for the delivery of your baby can be one of the most nerve-wracking and overwhelming experiences for any mother, especially when you’re unsure about what to expect. Fortunately, there are things you can do and consider, as you wait for your little one’s arrival, which will help prepare you for the big day. Here are just a few:

Packing for the Hospital or Birthing Center

Get your suitcase ready for the hospital or birthing center much sooner than your due date. Unless you have a C-section scheduled you won’t know exactly when the baby is coming and you’ll want to have the bag ready to ‘grab and go!’ Be sure to pack basic hygiene items like toothpaste, a toothbrush, a hairbrush and possibly some makeup for photos. Think about comfort above all else when packing a change of clothes, slippers, socks and a robe. Pack a few outfits in different sizes to bring the baby home in, as well as a few receiving blankets. Don’t worry about wipes and diapers, as the hospital will provide all that you need plus some to take home. Lastly, pack your cell phone, charger, camera, batteries and a book to keep you occupied during the quiet moments.

Blood Cord Banking

Before your baby arrives you may also want to consider cord blood banking. This option allows parents to save the baby’s umbilical cord blood as a potential medical resource for the family. The blood in the umbilical cord has the same blood-forming stem cells that can be found in bone marrow, with cord blood stem cells having some unique advantages. You may want to have access to your baby’s cord blood down the road if there’s ever a medical need for a stem cell treatment.

When to Call the Doctor or Midwife

Women may experience contractions much sooner than at 40 weeks. These are actually false contractions, known as Braxton-Hicks and they often confuse first-time mothers. They usually start in the third trimester and are intended to prepare the uterus for delivery. Although they don’t happen to everyone, there are easy ways to tell Braxton-Hicks contractions from the real thing. Most Braxton Hicks contractions will not become stronger, closer and longer.

It’s best to ask your doctor or midwife when you should call him or or her to go to the hospital or birthing center, as everyone has different advice. The advice may also be different if this is your first child. In general, however, most doctors or midwives will tell you to call or check in at the hospital or birthing center when your contractions are about 10 minutes apart and steady. If you do arrive too soon, they will check to see if you’re having regular contractions. If the contractions aren’t close enough they’ll probably send you home.

Taking steps to prepare yourself in every way possible before the big day will relieve a lot of stress when the time comes for your newborn to be brought into the world!

About the Author

This article was written by Katie Moore. Katie is an active writer within the blogging community who discusses maternity, motherhood, prenatal health, child birth and other topics within this niche. If you have any questions or would like to connect with Katie please contact her via twitter @moorekm26.

*Image: Kookkai_nak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Vegan Diet and Pregnancy – How to Combine Them?

It is said that when you are pregnant, you are supposed to eat for two. Well, the truth is that this isn’t quite so, but it is true that you have to be more careful regarding your diet. Maintaining a healthy diet is even more difficult for the women who would like to have a vegan diet.

Quality

When you have a certain diet to maintain, you should make sure that you choose high quality foods. This way you can ensure that you get all the nutrients that you need for a healthy life. According to this you have to look for non-GMO foods that are organic. Also opt for the foods that are the closest to the whole food form.

Hydration

Although in the majority of cases when people hear about hydration, they instantly think about water, but in fact hydration means a lot more than just water. It is potassium that retains the water in the cells that need it and it also helps the water get to the cells. The foods that you should consume include avocado, bananas, red skin potato, and coconut water.

Essentials

To get all the nutrients that your body needs, you should make sure to consume fatty acids and amino acids. These are essential because they are vital for the body, but it is unable to produce them. One of the foods that you should make sure to include in your diet is hump. This contains both the fatty acids and the amino acids and it is also easy to eat. Add the humps to salads or mix them with berries or cereals.

No Traps

Although you are trying to have a healthy life through maintaining vegan nutrition, there are some traps that you can fall into. One of the traps that you have to avoid is consuming too many carbs while trying to have proteins. During each meal you should have carbs, fat and protein. It is a good idea to have a meal every three hours to have enough energy to keep you running.

Proteins

It is quite easy to get all the proteins that you want in case you drink some milk, cow or soy milk. In order to maintain the vegetarian lifestyle, you could also have whole grains, cheese, beans, tofu, or yogurt.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This substance is very important in the development of the vision and the brain of the little one. Although it is relatively easy to find zinc, vitamin B12, iron, folate, vitamin D and calcium, omega-3 might be trickier to find in vegetarian or vegan foods.

In case your diet choice doesn’t allow you to consume fish, you could opt for flax seed, dark leafy green vegetables, pinto beans, kidney, canola, squash, broccoli, canola oil, papaya and cauliflower. Besides these there are some kinds of eggs, soy beverages, milk, orange juice, bread, margarine and cereal that you should also consume.

As you can see although you have an alternative diet, you can find all the nutrients that you need.

About the Author

This is a guest post by ThePregnancyZone.com. The blog offers complete Pregnancy week by week information and topics relating to Preparing for the Pregnancy, Pregnancy Stages, Labor & Delivery, Pregnancy Issues, Health Issues, Parental care etc.

Household Hazards Expecting Moms Need to Avoid

Pregnant women are trying to be healthier. Many take all the right steps to promote the birth of a healthy baby, including eating right, taking vitamins and eliminating alcohol and nicotine from their lives.

Unfortunately, all those efforts may be for naught if they are still being exposed to unseen chemicals in their daily lives. Dr. Doris Rapp, an experienced physician and expert on all the hidden household and environmental hazards, wants women to know about the many insidious and dangerous threats to their unborn babies. The harmful exposures can cause serious harm and damaging birth defects to babies in the womb, and they are right under our noses.

“One of the most dangerous groups of chemicals to pregnant women is known as PCBs,” said Rapp, author of 32 Tips That Could Save Your Life (www.dorisrappmd.com). “PCB stands for polychlorinated biphenyls, and they are commonly used in industrial pesticides. While they may not be in your house, they may exist in your office, your water or your food, especially if you live near the Great Lakes or consume seafood caught there. These chemicals pass through the placenta into the unborn, and some exposures have been known to cause devastating birth defects. These chemicals have also been found in the breast milk of women.”

According to Rapp, some of the dangers of these pesticides include, but are not limited to:

• Lower birth weight
• Smaller head size and developmental delays
• Movement, mental, and behavioral problems
• Increased or decreased activity levels
• Slowed thought processing and “less bright” appearance
• Lower reaction times
• Compromised nervous systems

“Moreover, a group of pesticides known as organophosphates also poses a high risk for pregnant women,” Rapp added.

“These include Bisphenol-A and phthalates,” she said. “They are derived from World War II nerve agents and are highly toxic. Even at low levels, organophosphates can be toxic to the developing brain, and studies show that they can affect brain and reproductive development in unborn animals. While most pesticides categorized as organophosphates have been banned for household use, they are still permitted for commercial use, including in fumigation for mosquitoes. Malathion, a common toxic organophosphate, is still allowed for use as an industrial and household insecticide. In the US, approximately 15 million pounds of Malathion are used each year by the government, as well as by businesses and homeowners.”

Her advice for women is to do all they can to avoid contact with these chemicals, starting before conception.

“Stay as far away as possible from pesticide-treated areas,” Rapp said. “Do not eat pesticide-laden food or any fish from the Great Lakes. Try to eat only organic foods. Further, if your job requires you to be in contact with any chemicals or pesticides, insist that other tasks be given to you for the duration of your pregnancy. Half the battle is knowing these dangers exist, but the other half is being informed and conscientious enough to be able to avoid contact with these dangerous and toxic agents.”

About the Author

Dr. Rapp is board certified in pediatrics, pediatric allergy and environmental medicine. She was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the State University of New York at Buffalo until she moved in January 1996 to Phoenix. She practiced traditional allergy for 18 years and then, in 1975, began incorporating the principles of environmental medicine into her pediatric allergy practice. She is a certified specialist in environmental medicine. She has published numerous medical articles, authored chapters in medical texts and written many informative and “how-to” books and booklets about allergy for the public. She has also produced numerous educational videos and audiotapes for the public, educators and physicians.

*Image: duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Safe Cold and Flu Remedies for Pregnant Women

You’ve seen the numerous labels: “Do not use if pregnant or nursing.” But what if you’re struggling with a cold or flu during pregnancy and you desperately need some relief? Many cough syrups and medicines are considered unsafe during pregnancy. What’s a sniffling, coughing, sneezing, aching mother-in-waiting to do? We’ve compiled a list of some safe and natural remedies for those looking for relief from their symptoms. Good for mom, good for baby.

Heads Up

Propping your head up as you sleep is a surprisingly effective method when you’re dealing with sinus problems. By keeping your head propped up, you are allowing easier sinus drainage and decreasing a stuffy nose. If you’re taking any medicines or cough syrups before bed, this also aids the process of decongesting.

Feel Better Foods

Pre-natal nutrition is important anyway, but when you’re sick and pregnant it’s even more important. Getting Vitamin C through the foods you eat, and making sure you’re taking supplements that are supporting your immune system are vital during this time. Keep in mind that it’s still recommended to get chicken noodle soups and broths when you’re sick. These warm soups have a soothing effect, and are somewhat bland, which help during times of sickness. You’ll be satisfied and so will the baby.

Fever Relief: Mission Possible

Acetaminophen products (Tylenol) are actually safe for pregnant women in small doses. If you have a low grade fever and are dealing with the aches and pains, you can turn to certain products containing acetaminophen. If you have a fever above 102, you should see your doctor. If the fever is accompanied by other serious symptoms that last a few days, see your doctor immediately.

You CAN have Lozenges

Although it is best to stay away from menthol lozenges when you’re pregnant, it’s not bad for the baby if you indulged in a lemon or honey lozenge. If your sore throat or coughing is just too irritating, these are a safe go-to.

Lemon and Honey for the Money:

For centuries, people have used lemon and honey as effective, natural supplements. Many people love honey and lemon tea, and use it when there is any sign of throat irritation. Zarbees All-Natural Children’s Cough Syrup includes both of those ingredients, and is safe for pregnant women and children alike. Honey soothes, while lemon also gives you a boost with Vitamin C. Together they are a winning combination.

Humidify Yourself

Humid air is actually quite helpful during times of sickness. If you find yourself dealing with congestion and breathing problems at night, a humidifier can help keep things moist, and clear out your air passageways as you sleep.

About Zarbee’s

Zarbee’s is the fastest-growing children’s cough and cold brand in the country. Developed by Dr. Zak Zarbock, one of the country’s top pediatricians, and recommended by pediatricians nationwide, Zarbee’s products are all-natural, drug-free and made from antioxidant-rich buckwheat honey, which clinical trials have shown to be the safest and most effective treatment for relieving coughs in children. Zarbee’s products do not include Dextromethorphan (DM), the most common over-the-counter treatment for coughs. A controversial ingredient not supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, DM has been banned for children ages four and younger and is being scrutinized by the FDA as ineffective and potentially dangerous for children. Zarbee’s products are also gluten free, contain no drugs, alcohol or dyes, have no side effects and carry no risk of overdose. Zarbee’s products are available at Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Kmart, Kroger, Winn Dixie, Albertsons and Meijer stores nationwide. Zarbee’s Original Cough Syrup sells for a suggested retail price of $7.99 for a four-fluid-ounce bottle. Zarbee’s Nighttime Cough and Sleep Drink, which comes in a powder form that mixes with soothing warm water, sells for a suggested retail price of $8.99 for six doses.

The Many Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

It goes without saying that women experience overwhelming physical, psychological, and emotional changes during pregnancy, and these changes can cause severe distress, pain, and overall discomfort. Pregnancy massage therapy can be a great way to help alleviate some of these difficulties, promoting a greater sense of well-being, giving the expectant mother a feeling of rejuvenation, and focusing on the specific needs of the mother-to-be.
Pregnancy massage can serve many purposes, including easing the discomforts associated with pregnancy, helping the pregnant woman prepare for labor, and giving her nurturing emotional support. In fact, pregnancy massage, often times called referred to as “prenatal massage,” has emerged as a routine practice for the modern, well-informed pregnant woman, as research continues to prove that it can be an instrumental addition to traditional prenatal care. And as concern increases regarding pain medicine that could affect unborn children, massage therapy offers a safe, drug-free alternative to combat the pain experienced throughout pregnancy.

Pregnancy massage offers relief from many of the discomforts including muscle cramps, stiffness, knots, and spasms. Massage can also eliminate much of the considerable pain caused by muscle imbalances in the back, joints, neck, hips, and legs, as well as the resultant muscle tension and headaches. Later on in pregnancy, pressure placed on the uterus due to the baby’s resting spot on the muscles of the pelvis and lower back spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower legs, causing them to swell and consequently put pressure on nearby nerves. Pregnancy massage therapy can substantially calm these inflamed nerves, commonly known as “sciatic nerve pain,” by helping to release the muscle tension.

Massage therapy techniques alleviate the trigger points and restricted connective tissue causing much of the pain, oftentimes even preventing pain before its initial onset. Additionally, massage stimulates the release of endorphins to the brain and nervous system; these endorphins act as natural pain killers within the body, soothing and relaxing the expectant mother’s nervous system. This increased relaxation can decrease an expectant mother’s insomnia. This therapy also encourages the maintenance of good posture, encouraging proper adjustment to the changing alignment of a pregnant woman’s body.

Swelling is also often experienced by mothers-to-be, and it most commonly affects the hands, feet, legs, and ankles. This troublesome condition is caused by the increased weight of the uterus, which in turn reduces circulation and increases pressure to the major blood vessels. However, regular massage therapy stimulates the soft tissues, reducing the collection of fluids in swollen joints and increasing blood and lymph circulation, which aids in the reduction of swelling. After all, steady blood flow must reach both the uterus and placenta to ensure a safe pregnancy, and a more efficient lymph system promotes better immune function. The increased blood and lymph flow can hasten the elimination of toxins through the circulatory and lymphatic systems, eliminating the excessive fatigue often experienced during pregnancy. And as if that wasn’t enough, the improved blood circulation brought about by pregnancy massage also aids in the delivery of vital nutrients to the fetus.

A major contributing factor to massage’s success in pregnant women has to do with the glandular secretions that help stabilize hormone levels. Studies have shown that the hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to prenatal care, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health. Specifically, there was a reduction in hormone levels of norepinephrine and cortisol, also referred to as “stress hormones.” Stress can be very dangerous to the mother and fetus, because when cortisol levels are continuously elevated, it can cause serious damage to the body, including elevated blood pressure and impaired brain function. Meanwhile, the hormones whose high levels are often associated with combating depression, specifically dopamine and serotonin, were increased with the introduction of massage therapy. And ultimately, fewer dangerous hormonal changes lead to significantly lower rates of premature birth and other complications, and fewer instances of newborn complications, including low birth weight.

Moreover, as with other types of massage used on the general, non-pregnant public, pregnancy massage therapy is proven to reduce anxiety and decrease symptoms of depression. Massage also enhances the pliability of skin and underlying tissues, which are often stretched to their limits during pregnancy. Pregnancy massage can also contribute to the lessening of heartburn, acid reflux, varicose veins, shortness of breath, and constipation, all of which become prevalent during pregnancy.

Pregnancy massage can also prove quite useful when it comes time to enter the labor and delivery stages of pregnancy. Massage therapy can actually prepare the mother-to-be for an easier delivery due to its sedating effect on the nervous system and promotion of relaxation. It also prepares the muscles that will be used in childbirth. In fact, it is a good idea to prepare for this life-changing experience by having your partner accompany you to your pregnancy massage appointments, in order that they too can learn valuable, safe, and comforting massage techniques. After all, a woman in labor needs more than a back rub in the delivery room!

However, being a licensed massage therapist alone does not necessarily mean that he or she can be trusted to perform a safe massage on a mother-to-be and her unborn child. Although most massage therapy training institutions offer some type of pregnancy massage therapy classes, it is best to be diligent and find a highly qualified massage therapist who is also certified in prenatal massage. As an added benefit, a certified prenatal massage therapist can also provide the expectant mother with helpful instruction regarding several self-care techniques, including specific stretches, self-massage techniques, and gentle exercises. Consider obtaining a recommendation from your doctor, and do not be afraid to demand extensive information regarding a potential pregnancy massage therapist’s expertise and training. Pregnancy massage should be gentle and non-invasive in nature, and it is never a good idea to utilize deep tissue massage during pregnancy.

Certified prenatal massage therapists should be specifically trained to avoid pressure to certain trigger areas, as well as certain massage positions that could prove dangerous. After all, therapists should be aware that positioning during massage treatment is critical to the safety and well-being of both mother and baby. The licensed massage therapist should have studied the proper techniques to be applied to pregnant women, should be familiar with the anatomy of pregnant women, and should have in-depth knowledge regarding the processes of pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period.

About the Author

Bethany Brewer is a freelance writer who covers topics related to education and health. Some of her recent work has been focused on massage therapy and its benefits.