Pregnancy is a time of anticipation and daily changes in the body. As you get ready to welcome a new baby into your family, you may feel stress or tension about the changes coming in your life. At the same time, your body is working very hard and this may result in physical strain, aches and muscle tension. Massage can relieve both physical and emotional tension and help you to relax, enjoy your pregnancy and prepare for your new baby.
Choosing a Massage Oil
Pesticides and herbicides concentrate in the oil of conventionally farmed plants. So use organic oil to avoid absorbing these toxins and passing them on to your baby, cautions Dr. Kamuda Reddy, author of "For a Blissful Baby." Neutral-scented plant oils are a good choice.
According to “The Complete Book of Herbs,”almond, apricot and peach oil are nourishing and softening. Calendula oil is good for damaged skin. Wheat germ oil is nourishing, high in vitamin E and acts as a preservative in combination with other oils. There are many scented massage oils available specifically for pregnancy. Check out the body care aisle in your local health food store, but be sure to ask your doctor or midwife before beginning massage.
Cured Sesame Oil
In her book, “For a Blissful Baby,” ayurvedic doctor Kamuda Reddy recommends massaging daily during pregnancy with cured sesame oil, which is warming and soothes jangled nerves. Prepare cured oil from organic sesame oil by heating it to exactly 212 degrees Fahrenheit—use a candy thermometer and watch it closely, as the temperature rises quickly—and then removing it immediately from the heat. Store the oil in a glass bottle in a dark cupboard and massage yourself with it everyday.
Dr Reddy recommends pregnant women perform abhyanga--self massage--daily before showering. Abhyanga is described in the ancient texts of ayurvedic holistic medicine. This is a light massage with oil that serves to increase circulation and energizes and stimulate all the organs of the body. Abhyanga releases toxins, tension and anxiety; and, when performed daily and enhances well-being .
For daily abhyanga massage, apply a thin layer of oil to your entire body. Then, massage your entire body from the head down. Start at the scalp using your fingertips. Use gentle strokes on the face and ears, long strokes on your neck and long bones and circular strokes over joints. Shower or bathe after abhyanga with tepid water. You will come out of the shower feeling extra refreshed and with soft supple skin.
Massage oils scented with essential oils give you the benefit of aromatherapy along with your massage. Buy a blend that makes you feel happy and relaxed when you smell it. Many essential oils are contraindicated during pregnancy so read labels carefully and be sure that the oils included are not potentially harmful for pregnancy. To prepare your own custom-made massage oil, add essential oils to cured sesame oil or a neutral oil like apricot or almond. Good essential oils for pregnancy include true lavender, jasmine, chamomile and neroli. Contraindicated oils include rosemary, eucalyptus and lavender spike, says "Aromatherapy Guide to Essential Oils."
- “For a Blissful Baby”; Kamuda Reddy, M.D. et al.; 1999
- "Aromatherapy Guide to Essential Oils”; Melissa Farris; 2001
- "The Complete Book of Herbs;" Lesley Bremness; 1988