I'm certain that any who who has ever experienced a therapeutic massage wouldn't dispute the wonderful feeling of relaxation and calm that follows the treatment. This feeling is also true for pregnancy massage, further still an increasing body of research into the effects of massage during pregnancy is clearly highlighting how beneficial massage is for both mum-to-be and baby.
Among others, the Touch Research Institute in in America has carried out multiple studies relating to massage during pregnancy over the last twenty years. In 1999 mums-to-be received massage over a period of several weeks, this research evidenced a sustained decrease in urinary stress hormone levels, decreased levels of reported anxiety, elevated moods, better sleep and reports of less back pain. A larger 2004 study of pregnant women who were feeling low also found that massage t decreased levels of depression and anxiety (including increased serotonin and dopamine levels, and decreased cortisol levels). In both studies there was less babies born prematurely, the 2004 also evidenced lower incidence of low birth weight.
In 2016 the American Pregnancy Association reported on a study carried out in 2011 (Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 Jan 1. Published in final edited form as:Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar; 5(2): 177–181) which found that:
'· Massage therapy has been demonstrated to be effective during pregnancy. The women reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain.
· Depressed pregnant women given the pregnancy massage experienced fewer prenatal complications.
· In our study on labor pain, the women receiving massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and their labors were on average 3 h shorter with less need for medication.
· The most important finding was the lower incidence of prematurity and low birthweight in the massaged depressed women.
· Postpartum depression and cortisol levels were decreased in the massaged women. The newborns of the massaged mothers also had lower cortisol levels than the newborns of the control mothers, and performed better on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment habituation, orientation and motor scales. An underlying mechanism we have been exploring is that these effects are mediated by increased vagal activity.'
There is a growing amount of reputable and scientific research being carried out into the measurable benefits of massage during pregnancy of which there are many - too many to ignore.