I hear this word a lot “relaxin” in pregnancy and in the postnatal period and how it can make mum’s more flexible, unstable and how massage, stretching should not happen during this time.
I thought I would debunk a few pregnancy and postnatal massage myths and share the benefits of massage (and nutrition and movement…as they all come together) during these important life phases.
What is relaxin and what does it do during pregnancy and after birth?
Relaxin is a hormone produced by the placenta and the middle layer of the wall of the uterus.
Its role is to allow the softening of the ligaments of the pelvis to allow growth of the uterus in the abdomen. Find out more about it here.
The hormone really gets a bad rep. Mums (and health professionals) can sometimes worry about this which means mums don’t move and feel stiff, tight and start to feel aches and pains.
Relaxin isn’t the only hormone involved during this time. Other hormones involved are progesterone, estrogen, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) and human placental lactogen (hPL).
After birth and in breastfeeding, both oestrogen and progesterone drop completely. Progesterone affects functions such as sleep and mood and oestrogen has lots of functions and some include strength of your muscle and connective tissues and how you feel pain.
In any of the current research there was a poor correlation between joint flexibility, pain and hormone levels!
What does this mean? So there is a connection between your tissues and hormones but the research couldn’t find a link between joint laxity.
You are not unstable and massage won’t make you any more unstable.
So what does massage do in the post natal period?
- Addresses any muscular aches and pains – Its quite likely that you are feeding for long periods of time, being still and sat for long periods of time and these all contribute to muscular aches and pains.
- Generates more local blood supply to tissues to help the healing process of injured tissue
- Helps relax your tissues that are holding lots of tension which maybe a factor causing pain
- Increases your connection with your body.
- Promotes relaxation – massage is great for increasing your restorative part of your nervous system to help the healing process.
When can I have a postnatal massage?
Most mum’s can have a postnatal massage soon after birth, but to know if you are ready, click here to book in a consultation call
What else can help post natal recovery?
Our bodies LOVE movement and its easy to become more still in the postnatal period.
Good quality movement and pelvic floor work is essential to help your body and tissues recover. Our muscles need to shorten and extend in full ranges for this to happen (so your body is more stable after birth than most people think). We can achieve this with some good quality mobilisations (before you think I mean aggressive stretching!)
Eat for recovery and energy
Focus on the simple building blocks of nutrition for healing and energy. Lots of good protein sources, water, good fats and a rainbow of veggies are a good place to start.
As a postnatal massage therapists I cover all of these in the session as massage is only one part of healing and recovery after birth! To find out more head to the women’s wellness page here
Take home message if you are a new mum:
Focus on the things you can control. By being scared of having a massage and moving isn’t worth it and focusing on the things that make you FEEL good is what is important.