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March 2016

Prenatal Massage: How Massage Helps Moms to Be

Mom_To_Be_edited-11Many of our patients coming for fertility that conceive want to know what they can do to help themselves have a healthy and comfortable pregnancy. In addition to prenatal acupuncture, prenatal massage is a perfect way to deal with the aches and pains throughout pregnancy (and many times, prevent them!) and treat yourself during such a special time. Please enjoy the following post by Lisa Birnesser, owner of Transformations Massage and Wellness Center, where she explains a little more about prenatal massage. We are so lucky to share a space with Transformations! -Sarah Prater, L.Ac.




Giving birth and being born brings us into the essence of creation, where the human spirit is courageous and bold and the body, a miracle of wisdom.  ~Harriette Hartigan

written by: Pregnancy is both a stressful time and a joyful one. The body undergoes changes rapidly. Some are obvious physical shifts and there is also less overt changes. Pregnancy or prenatal massage is one way to help mother and child-to-be through this time.

Prenatal massage therapy is an effective and beneficial practice for all trimesters – if performed properly. It is both safe and effective prenatal massage therapy can help the mother through difficult times. It can counteract some of the effects of pregnancy while helping her relax.

There are quite a few benefits to prenatal massage. The most common result is stress relief. The pregnant mother relaxes under the hands of a skilled massage therapist. This helps both psychologically and emotionally. It allows the woman to relax and to enjoy the massage and the experience of pregnancy.
Pregnancy massage also helps reduce the problems of swelling of the arms and legs. Muscles relax and, as time goes on, prepare mom’s body for birth. Pain may be relieved while the therapist works on the back, legs, arms neck and hips. Cramps and muscle spasms decrease. The therapist works to alleviate discomfort and even myofascial pain. After all, sleeping on your side for many months can lead to hip, thigh and shoulder discomfort.

The use of pregnancy massage can also help reduce the weight on the joints. Like other forms of massage therapy, it may also affect the flow of blood circulation and lymphatic flow. A regime of massage may also increase the pliability of the skin. This is helpful both during the pregnancy and while the client is in labor.
Used appropriately, pregnancy massage can also be beneficial during labor by a specifically trained massage therapist doula. It can be comforting to have touch therapy during this time. Therapeutic massage can help decrease the tension and anxiety associated with labor. Massage therapy is also suggested post partum, up to six weeks post birth. Timing factors include whether or not there was a caesarean section to deliver baby.

Prenatal massage requires special training. A thorough medical history is needed during the first visit. Your massage therapist must always be aware of change in condition between visits. When in doubt, always ask your physician if pregnancy massage is safe.
Prenatal massage also takes into consideration proper positioning of the client. Pillows or other positioning devices are used to make mom as comfortable as possible.

Prenatal massage can be a positive experience. It can help pregnant women emotionally and physically. The massage therapist also needs to communicate clearly with mom and understand any specific worries and possible problems. Only by understanding the general physical and emotional changes as well as specific problems many women experience can a massage therapist begin to provide beneficial therapeutic massage.

Welcome and a little of our history….

Welcome to Knoxville’s first and only acupuncture clinic specializing in fertility and prenatal wellness!

Hello and welcome to the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture’s first blog post!

I’d like to take a moment and introduce the myself, the clinic, and tell you a bit about the services here.

My name is Sarah Prater. I am the founder and acupuncturist at the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture. I recently moved here with my family from Indianapolis, IN. We came to be closer to the mountains and our family. As avid cyclists and outdoor lovers, we feel at home up in the Smokies. And, personally, I LOVE the warmer weather down south!

I studied pre-medicine at Indiana University in Bloomington and finished my bachelor’s in 2005. I went on to complete a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine in 2008 and have maintained a private practice ever since. I decided to become an acupuncturist instead of continuing on to medical school gradually during a time of self reflection. I was suffering from some health issues and had discovered that my diet, lifestyle, activity level, and some alternative treatments had such an impact on how well I felt and how well my medications and other treatments were working. I thought of my future patients and how I wanted to instill this knowledge in them so they could help themselves feel as I did! Over time, and with the guidance of a few mentors, I decided to pursue a career in Chinese Medicine.

In my early years of practice, I began to realize how much I truly loved working with families trying to conceive. Nothing beats a patient bringing their new bundle of joy into the office for a quick visit! I also realized the clinical benefit that acupuncture treatment could have on someone undergoing fertility treatment. Aside from increasing pregnancy rates, acupuncture was helping my patients reduce side effects, stress levels, and making each cycle a little easier to go through. Research in integrative fertility shows acupuncture can decrease miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and increase overall live birth rates. Once pregnant, it can help a woman feel more comfortable during her pregnancy and have a faster, easier birth with reduced interventions. It seemed my specialty had found me!

After deciding to specialize in fertility and prenatal wellness, I was able to focus my efforts on meeting the needs of my patients by offering flexible scheduling (as the body cannot be reliably put on a calendar), treatments around embryo transfer and developing protocols that work with a woman’s cycle, whether natural, medicated, IVF or IUI. It also afforded me the time to be able to stay current with research in the field, which is something I truly value.

I am so excited to be bringing my passion here to Knoxville! The Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture is our area’s first and only fertility and prenatal speciality clinic. We are truly built from the ground up to be able to work alongside your treatment cycle and (hopefully!) pregnancy.

It is my sincere hope that all families experiencing fertility challenges will be able to realize their dream and we are here to help.

In the future, this blog will serve as a voice for our clinic in addition to Facebook and our website. We will post clinic updates, case studies, research, patient guides and tips and anything else that we feel will be of service to you, our patients.

We truly look forward to working with you! Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to set up treatment with your cycle or during your pregnancy. We are happy to answer your questions and find a treatment that is right for you.