Your Abdomen During Pregnancy
During pregnancy your overall blood supply increases by 30-50%. You need this blood as your body and organs accommodate for a growing baby. The kidneys, respiratory, GI systems, and liver expand as your pregnancy progresses. You may notice this in your circulatory system, as you see more blue surface veins on your body.
Abdominal Massage helps to direct that additional blood supply to the digestive and reproductive organs where it can deliver nutrients that are the basis for optimal functioning amidst the stresses that your body is now facing. But, it’s about more than just directing blood flow. There’s a powerful hormonal and emotional component to abdominal massage that make it a tremendously useful.
What is Abdominal Massage?
Abdominal massage is a gentle and tender massage performed on your belly at any stage of pregnancy. As mentioned, it increases blood flow and circulation to your growing abdomen, supporting relaxation while giving your body some much needed personal attention.
Abdominal Massage has several benefits:
- Increasing blood flow to the placenta and uterus, which delivers nutrients to your baby.
- Supporting good digestion and elimination through increased blood flow, which many women struggle with throughout pregnancy.
- Reducing stress and promoting relaxation through the release of oxytocin
- Helps reduce any physical symptoms such as; itching, pain (muscular stretching, round ligament pain and rib pain can also be addressed)
- May help minimize the appearance of stretch marks
Oxytocin: The Love Hormone
Perhaps the most amazing benefit of massaging your belly is that you stimulate the release of small doses of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. This hormone is typically released during acts of appreciation, touch, massage, and emotional connection. When you massage your belly during pregnancy, you are bonding with your baby through an exchange of this amazing hormone!
Oxytocin also lowers stress hormones, like cortisol. We all experience stress, it’s unavoidable in life. Abdominal massage helps you and your baby to feel supported and loved during stressful times, setting you on a path to emotional balance.
Who: You, me or your partner!
Sometimes the motherly instinct causes us to guard our bellies. It may seem strange and vulnerable to have someone touch your tummy. As trained and experienced massage therapists it’s nothing strange and unusual to us – but a massage needs to be all within your comfort levels. Should abdominal massage by an RMT not be something you’re not comfortable with, you may still be wanting to reap the benefits! Self-massage includes all the same benefits as well as helps with bonding between mother and baby. Women are inherently drawn to touching and rubbing their bellies in pregnancy. This helps the baby to learn the mother’s touch while deepening their emotional connection. A massage therapist can go over a quick massage routine you can incorporate at home.
Another option is to include your partner! Allowing your partner to massage your tummy provides a wonderful opportunity to develop a bond between them and baby. It is also great to help your partner feel involved in the pregnancy.
Inquire about abdominal massage during pregnancy if you have any questions and feel it may be something you’d like to include in your massage treatment or pregnancy journey!
-Melissa Andre, RMT