Dealing with Pre-Labor Anxiety: A Guide for Expectant Mothers

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When you’re expecting a baby, your due date inevitably looms large in your mind. If it’s your first pregnancy, you might find yourself agonizing over what labor will bring and whether or not you will be ready. If you’ve given birth before and had a less-than-ideal experience with labor, you might be dreading the process and wondering if this time will be any better. As a pregnant mom-to-be, it’s important not to let your anxiety about labor get out of control, since it isn’t ideal for your health or for that of your baby. If you find yourself overcome with worries about labor in the future, one solution you might want to consider is prenatal massage. Not only can it help you relax, but it also offers benefits for your body that may actually improve your labor experience when your due date finally comes. Read on to learn more about how prenatal massage can help you prepare for labor and decrease your pre-labor anxieties.


How Prenatal Massage Impacts the Labor Experience


As an expectant mother, you have to accept that there are many things that are outside your control, and therefore just not worth worrying about. However, scientific studies suggest that there are key aspects of the labor experience that can be directly affected by getting a regular prenatal massage before your due date. Therefore, if you’re worried about what labor will be like, it might make sense to use the research to guide your decision to make a prenatal massage part of your pregnancy wellness strategy.


One of the earliest studies supporting the benefits of prenatal massage for pregnant women was conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida in 1997. They recruited 28 pregnant mothers to participate in a randomized, controlled trial–assigning half of the women to receive standard breathing coaching from their partners (as they would during a regular prenatal class), and assigning the others to receive prenatal massage in addition to the coaching. Not only did the mothers who received the prenatal massage report experiencing less anxiety and depression during their pregnancy, but they also showed less agitation and had a more positive outlook during labor itself. Even more intriguing, for the mothers who received the prenatal massage, the reported levels of labor pain were considerably lower, and there was a statistically significant decrease in the length of time they spent in labor, as well as the length of the period they spend in the hospital recovering from childbirth.


These results were borne out in additional studies over the next few decades. Indeed, there has been particularly strong evidence indicating that there is a connection between prenatal massage and labor pain reduction. In trials lasting four weeks, two weeks, and even just one week, scientists observed that prenatal massage sessions led to clinically observable increases in maternal pain threshold. Although the reasons why are not fully understood, scientists suspect that is probably has something to do with the interaction between the hormone oxytocin and opioid receptor proteins. This interaction may also be the reason why women who have received prenatal massage tend to require less pain medication during labor.


Staying Calm About Things Outside Your Control

Of course, even though the science suggests that you’re more likely to have a smoother labor experience if you get a regular prenatal massage, you may still find your mind stuck on the aspects of the labor experience that you just can’t plan for. Again, prenatal massage can help to quiet your unproductive anxieties about the aspects of the future that are outside your control. At its core, prenatal massage works as a passive form of exercise by improving your circulation, so you’ll get some of the same mood-boosting benefits as you would from a brisk walk.


Moreover, a visit to the massage therapist’s office can also be relaxing simply because it takes you away from the chaos of everyday life. Prenatal massage is a completely passive massage modality, so you’re not responsible for anything–all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience. There will be no one reminding you of your anxieties by inquiring (again) about your due date or trying to touch your baby bump. The massage therapist is ready to focus on you, regardless of where you are in terms of your pregnancy and your overall wellness, so that you can work together to make the prenatal massage an optimal anti-anxiety experience. By the time you leave the office, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to move on from your anxiety.

If you’re a mom-to-be, Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness is here to support the long-term health of you and your baby. We offer prenatal massage that can truly make a difference for both your physical and mental wellness during your pregnancy, labor, and beyond. Contact us today to set up an appointment!

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