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All Mommy wanted was a back rub… (the benefits of prenatal massage)

I did it! I finally decided I was worth being taken care of and allowed myself what I had previously considered a luxury: a prenatal massage. You’d think after three pregnancies, I would have done it ages ago; however, I am a very stubborn and “tough” girl who doesn’t believe in “wasting” money on things purely for me. Boy was I wrong. It was wonderful and it will not be the last time I go. This looks like it’ll become a regular thing for me now that I know better. I felt so much more relaxed afterwards. And I slept! I actually slept through the whole night! This never, ever happens to me, especially during pregnancy.

So, you may be asking: What is a prenatal massage and how is it different from a regular massage? A prenatal massage is a specialized technique that is designed for a woman usually in her second trimester up to part way through her third. It’s meant to improve circulation, give you some energy, and take some of the strain away from your over worked muscles and joints. It uses a lighter pressure and you lay on your sides as opposed to your back and tummy. Lying on your back is never a good idea when you’re pregnant. The weight of your baby and uterus blocks circulation to the placenta. This can cause complications that no amount of massage can help. It is a little more difficult for the masseuse to rub you down at this angle but far safer.

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It also has the same great benefits as any message does. Loads of studies have shown that they relax and loosen tight muscles, reduce cortisol (that nasty stress hormone), increase blood flow (+++ for us preggers ;-), keeps the lymphatic system going strong, and flushes toxins out of the body. Just be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards as massage releases toxins that have built up in your muscles to float freely through your body, which can make you sick if you are not properly hydrated afterward.

What all this means is, that with regular prenatal massages you should become generally more relaxed. They help relieve insomnia, get rid of joint pain, and relieve swelling and headaches, even sinus congestion. Also not forgetting to mention all those neck, back, hip, leg and sciatica pain you’ve been having.

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Here are just a few warnings to keep you safe and happy. The first trimester is a little too risky for a massage.  With everything changing, it’s just not a good time (especially for surrogates or anyone getting assistance with conception). Also, research your masseuse first, don’t just go anywhere. People who specialize in this type of massage need to be specifically trained in prenatal massage. The right hands work miracles, the wrong ones could put you in the hospital. New studies are showing that the amount of trust you have in someone is equal to the amount of relaxation you will allow yourself to feel. If you’re not 100% with the person you won’t be able to reap all the benefits. Another thing: stay away from those ankles! They don’t know exactly why yet, but when you rub those bad boys, it can start labor. Unless you are past your due date, keep away. Just skip down to those well deserving (probably slightly larger) feet of yours.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to go book my next appointment…

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Oh the Changes! Your NEW pregnancy boobs.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strain)… this always gets stuck in my head when I’m thinking about anything prenatal. So much goes on in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Some noticeable to the observer, some not so much. Your breasts are definitely a noticeable one. Usually, to the greater satisfaction of your partner. Hands off though, ‘cause: Ouch! Those things are for looking only, no touching at first. They will be so tender, but boy are they perky. Go ahead and enjoy them while they are still all yours. Take as many glances in the mirror or pretend to be looking down at your shirt and check yourself out as much as you can! So many things bum us out when we’re preggers, uncomfortable or self-conscience. Not this though. Uncomfortable maybe a little, but admit it: it’s totally worth it. Enjoy!

There ARE some less enjoyable aspects of your new boobs…There are several other things besides their size you may notice that happen to them throughout your 40 weeks. They’ll get tender; your nipples may stick out more and/or get darker; you might notice some stretch marks (coco butter worked best for me); You may even get your colostrum (a watery yellowish pre-milk substance loaded with nutrients for the newborn)  leaking from them near the end of your journey.

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After delivery, it doesn’t get easier right away. I’m going to let you know something that no one ever told me before I had kids: breastfeeding, pumping, and/or stopping your milk production can HURT! That’s right, it can all be fricken’ painful and uncomfortable. No matter which route you take — nursing, expressing for someone, or using formula — you’ll get rock hard breasts and your nipples will get sore. Sometimes they crack and oh-ho-ho that smarts! If you’re not allergic, lanolin is a godsend for those babies. When you do stop your milk production, the best recommendations I have are these: Frozen cabbage leaves tucked into your bra (I kid you not, they really DO work!). It really relieves the pressure. Many say to take a warm shower. Warning: That is an immediate fix only! It will encourage your breasts to produce MORE milk, not stop it. You’ll just be starting a vicious cycle of pain and relief over and over again. They make breast pads to catch the leaks but those can be pricy. I’ve found that just buying pantie-liners or pads (depending how heavy you leak) and cutting them in half works just as well. They also conveniently have that sticky back to attach to whatever clothing you may be wearing.

The boob fairy give(ith) and she take(ith) away. You may be one of the lucky ones that get to keep your perky and full pregnancy boobs. I know some of those lucky ladies myself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. Mine just kind of went back to being my pre-pregnancy size. Other ladies I know said they got what they call “Mom boobs”. Bigger but saggier. It really is the luck of the draw. It’s all part of that ever changing process we woman chose to go through to procreate. Definitely, well worth it if you ask me.

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