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Loving Pregnancy with Partner Massage:

What every pregnant couple ought to know... about sharing a healthier, happier, and more loving pregnancy
by Joanna Napolitano

 Bringing a new life into the world is a miraculous, joyous, wonderful and challenging experience for both expectant partners. And it's a proven fact that pregnancy deeply affects each of them individually and their relationship as a couple.

A mother-to-be may long for more support from her partner as she copes with fatigue, other normal physical discomforts, and hormonal changes. She may feel worried, anxious, or stressed. She may feel tense about pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, her job, her health, or her relationship with the father.

A father-to-be may feel unsure of what he can do to help his pregnant partner besides just assisting her with physical chores. He may also feel concerned about his role during childbirth, and how he can help his partner most effectively. He may feel uncertain about his feelings for the new baby. He may wonder how the new baby will alter his relationship with his partner.

My husband and I also experienced all of these normal questions, concerns, joys and transitions. Fortunately, during our pregnancies we discovered how massage could really help. We found that partner massage also calmed and refreshed me, involved Ralph more in the pregnancy, brought us even closer together as a couple, and helped us both to bond more with our unborn baby.

I should tell you that my husband, Ralph is a licensed massage therapist with 13 years' experience. The good news is, a pregnant woman doesn't have to be married to a professional, licensed massage therapist to enjoy the many benefits of a massage during pregnancy.

 The Benefits of Massage During Pregnancy

During pregnancy a woman's body undergoes many changes, some of them stressful and uncomfortable. Massage is a perfect way to reduce stress and promote general well-being.

  • Massage helps mom's body to eliminate waste products through the lymphatic and circulatory systems, which combats fatigue and helps the mother feel more energetic.
  • By aiding circulation, massage eases the load on mom's heart and helps to keep her blood pressure in check.
  • Muscular discomforts, such as cramping, tightening, stiffness, tension, and knots, can all be alleviated.
  • Massage helps carry away the lactic acid and other cellular waste products that build up and cause muscle fatigue.
  • Massage can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes mom is experiencing.
  • Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts during pregnancy, such as backaches, a stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches, edema, and sore, swollen ankles and feet.
  • Massage increases local and general blood circulation, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to the cells of both the mother and fetus. This means greater vitality and less fatigue for mom and better nourishment for her baby.
  • Massage stimulates glandular secretions, which helps stabilize hormone levels.
  • Massage can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes mom is experiencing.
  • It relaxes tense muscles and tones loose muscles, and can also increase muscular flexibility. Flexibility will be most helpful during the last trimester and during the birth itself.
  • Massage helps to soothe and relax nervous tension, which helps the mother sleep more easily and more deeply. Incidentally, doctors all agree that a relaxed mother will have a happier, healthier pregnancy and possibly an easier childbirth experience, too.
  • Massage can be used during the birth to make it easier and more comfortable for mom, and after the birth as well, to help her regain her strength more quickly and ease postpartum stress.

Of course, there are many emotional benefits of a massage besides just the physical benefits. When you put your hands on your partner's body, you're also touching her emotions and state of mind. Not only is a massage relaxing, comforting and healing, it is also an expression of love and caring. The intimate nature of touch has the additional advantage of bringing two people closer together.

 How Every Expectant Father Can Show He Is a Caring Partner and Loving Father (and Learn How to Be a Better Birth Coach, Too!)

With massage, Ralph soothed my pounding headaches, unkinked my aching back muscles, loosened my stiff neck, helped the swelling in my legs and feet, uncramped sore calf muscles, relieved general tension and stress, soothed my sciatica (an inflamed nerve condition in my lower back and in the back of my leg) reduced edema (the swelling of the hands, legs, ankles, etc.), and comforted my sore and swollen feet.

Together, after a lot of research and experimentation, we discovered the most enjoyable massage techniques for safely relieving the normal discomforts of pregnancy, and the most comfortable positions for both partners.

We also found that partner massage not only enhanced our relationship, but helped me to relax and really enjoy being pregnant even more. Especially during our last pregnancy when I really needed regular massage! At the time I had more than the usual physical, mental and emotional challenges to handle (I was a 40-year old expectant mother with an active five-year old daughter, a full-time job, and a recent move to a new home). At the time, Ralph was working long hours at his job, too, so we both had very little "extra" time. Yet a short, well-applied massage of just five or 10 minutes applied by Ralph left me feeling refreshed, calmer and healthier.

You see, done properly, massage can be effective and still be as quick and easy and you want it to be. With or without clothes or massage oil.

My husband saw that our relationship had improved, I felt calmer and healthier, and that he felt happier because he could "share" the pregnancy with me.

Ralph wanted to help other expectant couples. So, together with a little help from me and a professional, state-of-the-art filming studio, he created a 55-minute video guide, Loving Pregnancy with Partner Massage.

Divided into six "quick-fix" chapters of five to 10 minutes each, this video program shows how a massage can be quick, easy and effective too. (Or if you have more time, you can watch the entire program and practice a whole body massage.) You'd be amazed how much better you feel after a massage, even a quick one!

Some childbirth educators like to show one massage chapter during each of their weekly childbirth classes. They want to help the fathers learn how to be better childbirth coaches. And they feel it is important for the expectant fathers to practice giving their partners massages regularly. As Mary Pustilnik, C.C.A., said after watching the "how-to" video: "Human touch is so important in labor. By doing massage at home first, a man can learn how to touch in a nurturing way before he must know how to do it during the birth of his child. This video guide is a really good idea."

Listen to the Experts

Please don't just take our word for it. Look at the enclosed testimonials offered by satisfied pregnant couples, childbirth professionals and authors (all of whom clearly enjoyed Loving Pregnancy with Partner Massage). Also, this new video guide was recently reviewed and praised in a few national magazines. Here are a few excerpts:

...not only is this a great video for childbirth educators, midwives, birthing centers and expectant parents... it is also a good video for any couple to learn how to massage in an effective way to help relieve the tensions of the day. This is a well done video, simply and clearly taught, relaxing and interesting to watch. It comes with an easy-to-follow video guide booklet.
-- Pamela Hunt, Birth Gazette, Summer '95
Loving Pregnancy provides an avenue of relaxation and loving touch, and promotes a healthful state of mind and body... It instills the kind of comfort that helps facilitate healthful pregnancies and births, so needed in our stressful times.
-- Jill Cohen, Midwifery Today, Summer '95
...Loving Pregnancy with Partner Massage offers a wonderful way for expectant moms and dads to alleviate some of those troublesome pains and have a little quality partner time to boot... The instructions are clear (and include proper warnings), the camerawork is good, and the idea is wonderful. Recommended.
-- Randy Pittman, Video Librarian, May-June '95
More information about the Video Guide

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Latst updated Sun, Feb 22, 1998 by Donna Dolezal Zelzer,