Monday, October 31, 2011

Massage to Induce Labor?

When a woman’s due date has come and gone, she may develop anxiety about whether labor will ever start. Usually after 41 weeks gestation, doctors and midwives begin to consider options for inducing labor in an effort to avoid the baby getting too large or the placenta deteriorating. Some women who believe that receiving an “induction” massage might stimulate their labor come to ask their massage therapist for such help. 
Massage does not trigger labor to begin. What massage can do is to help the mother relax. Relaxation helps diminish adrenalin and catecholamine production, allowing hormones, endorphins and prostaglandins that prepare the body for labor, to function more optimally. Massage can be very beneficial at this late stage of pregnancy, and if a woman’s labor does begin after receiving a massage, she may believe it was the touch that stimulated it. However, it is much more likely that it was due to her ability to relax under the touch and be offered reminders of her body’s inherent wisdom regarding birth, which allowed the natural development of contractions to occur. In this way, massage was a complementary support, rather than the cause of labor beginning. For many women, labor still does not begin until other elements are in place––physically, psychologically, or spiritually––even after receiving a thorough and focused massage with the intent of supporting labor.

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