For centuries, midwives and families have known well the benefits of supporting women through pregnancy, birth and postpartum and have nurtured them with the healing tools of hands, words, water and warm herbal oils. Touch has commonly been used during the perinatal cycle as a means to ease discomfort and labour pain, to assist the progress of labour and to speed up postpartum recovery. Each time a pregnant woman is massaged, the baby, as well as the mother is affected physically and emotionally.
In one study by the Touch Research Institute in Miami, women were given a 20-minute back massage, five times a week during their pregnancy. These women described less anxiety, had fewer stress hormones in their blood, slept better, felt happier and had fewer back and leg complaints. Ultimately, the result was a decrease in premature delivery and obstetrical complications.
During pregnancy massage, special positioning is practised to guarantee the safety of both the mother and the baby. The use of side-lying and semi-reclining positions are a must and more cushioning and pillows are needed.