the power of pregnancy massage

by April Durrett on Sep 01, 2004

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Do you have pregnant clients? If so, you may want to let them know that body massage by a significant other can reduce stress hormone levels in pregnant women. The reduction in stress increases the likelihood of a successful full-term pregnancy, according to a new study conducted by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Duke University Medical School’s department of pharmacology. (The Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute LLC, the National Institute of Mental Health and the March of Dimes supported the study.)

The research found that, in addition to relaxing the mother, the massage might bring stress hormones—such as cortisol and norepinephrine—into better balance. Elevated stress hormone levels can lead to pregnancy complications, including low birth weight and even miscarriage. Massage also alleviates aches, pains and swelling for the mother, improves her sleep and eases depression, the study reported.

How much do you know about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)? Some of your clients are probably using it. Thirty-six percent of adults aged 18 years and over utilize some form of CAM, according to “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults: United States” (a report released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]).

CAM is a group of diverse medical and healthcare systems, practices and products not presently considered part of conventional medicine. When prayer specifically for health reasons is included in the definition of CAM, the number of U.S. adults using some form of CAM in the past year rises to 62%.

These results provide the most comprehensive and reliable CAM data to date. The original survey, administered to over 31,000 representative U.S. adults, was conducted as part of the CDC’s 2002 National Health Interview Survey. The CAM survey was developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The 10 most commonly used CAM therapies and the approximate percent of U.S. adults using each therapy were as follows:

prayer for own health, 43%

prayer by others for the respondent’s health, 24%

natural products (such as herbs, other botanicals and enzymes), 19%

deep breathing exercises, 12%

participation in prayer group for own health, 10%

meditation, 8%

chiropractic care, 8%

yoga, 5%

massage, 5%

diet-based therapies (such as Atkins, Pritikin, Ornish and Zone diets), 4%

Why did people use CAM?

> 55% of adults said they were most likely to use CAM because they believed it would help them when combined with conventional medical treatments.

> 50% thought CAM would be interesting to try.

> 26% used CAM because a conventional medical professional suggested they try it.

> 13% used CAM because they felt conventional medicine was too expensive.

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About the Author

April Durrett

April Durrett IDEA Author/Presenter

April Durrett is a contributing editor for IDEA Fitness Journal.