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Nature & Nurture Therapeutic Massage - Massage for the Soul
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My Blog

April 2014

Pregnancy Massage


Today I have decided to inform you about the pregnancy massage that I offer my clients.  A number of conversations recently about this modality have made me think what a great idea it would be to share this topic with you.

It would appear that the general impression that most women have is that they need to have something wrong with them to be able to receive a pregnancy massage (or any treatment for that matter). Simply put - this just isn't the case! Why wait until you feel out of sorts before coming to relax? Why not remain relaxed and in a great state of health, using massage as a means to achieving that? It's a perfect place to be in preparation for the achievable but hard work that labour will soon bring.

A friend and co-worker (Claire) got me interested in studying the specific pregnancy course that I chose and whilst I was pregnant, with my first child, I received frequent massages from her. Claire and I worked in a Spa and if we ever found ourselves without clients scheduled in Claire often utlised that vacancy by providing me with gorgeous pregnancy treatments. From that time on I was fascinated. After such a great pregnancy and birth I thought that it was a modality that I could share with my own clients.

I studied my diploma with 'Well Mother' based in Windmill Hill, Bristol, England. Our teacher, Suzanne Yates, now has a very long history in working with pregnant clients in a variety of settings (including hospitals). She teaches not only to massage and shaitsu practioners but also to midwives, doulas and birth educators; travelling to numerous countries imparting her knowledge. In her words, via the link below, is what the Well Mother approach is about:

From a personal experience I found the treatments that I received very relaxing and I used them as a way to connect with my growing baby. They allowed me to remain calm and enjoy a trouble free pregnancy.

I find it a shame that most of the women I speak to feel that they should only receive a bodywork treatment if they have something to be 'fixed.' Many have even questioned how beneficial a massage can be as they are so accustomed to being referred to chiropractors and osteopaths.  Yes, for some pregnant women the changes their body undertakes while carrying a child, other than an obvious growing belly, may be only subtly percieved. They need not always cause pain and discomfort.  Massage can aid these women too though. The very act of being touched and nurtured oneself can have great  physiological and emotional effects.

During the best part of a 9 month pregnancy the focus can appear to be fixed on the wellbeing of the baby, the woman is often neglected and the approach can be a very medicalised affair. It is easy for the magic of what is occuring to be removed from the experience.This type of care often carries over following the birth and can leave mothers feeling very misplaced as their role may seem trivialised. Time spent gently encouraging the body and the mind to relax is paramount in helping mothers and mothers -to- be in remaining in a positive frame of mind pre and post natally.

Without a doubt this form of massage also has its benefits on an anatomical level. Shiatsu is incorporated and slow, fluid mobilisations of the limbs can be used to open up areas of stiffness and fatigue. The treatment can be performed  lying on one's back (in the 1st trimester)  on one's side (2nd & 3rd trimesters) or resting on an exercise/birthing ball. The use of an exercise ball is great for working the back and opening up the sacrum, especially towards the end of a pregnancy when the way in which a woman carries her baby may change (we've all witnessed the pregnancy waddle). It is also a brilliant position to adopt for labour and I like to use it to demonstrate to birth partners how they can be of support during the birth process.

Not only is this pregnancy massage suitable during all trimesters of pregnancy it is also available to women post natally. The female body continues through a process of changes after the baby's delivery. The uterus contracts back to it's original size, the gained suppleness (in preparation for labour) is lost and many hormones remain busy helping the mother to nourish and connect with her baby. Post natal massage after delivery by a caesarean section is still possible, by allowing a woman to rest on her side, rather than on her front or back. There is no need to wait for many weeks for a treatment if one is required sooner and babies are welcome to join their mothers. All mothers can gain from the use of acupressure points; implemented to relieve tension from continual lifting, carrying and feeding a baby. General massage strokes can be used to soothe and release sore muscles and stiff bodies, encouraging an awareness of post pregnancy posture, creating a sense of self again.  

Women who are experiencing diffuclties conceiving may also benefit from one of these treatments, which can be adapted to suit the situation. Visualisations, healing and a space for grief and acceptance assist women undergoing fertilisation management or who have encountered loss through miscarriage.

Sometimes when we wait to 'fix' something the damage has already been done. It can take a lot of effort and commitment to to regain a sense of normality again. It is my hope that in reading this you may consider this as a treatment worth trying, even if only once, so that you may know whether you are truly missing out on something important on your pregnancy journey. Maybe you know of someone who would enjoy one of these treatments? Pregnancy and parenthood are definite  times of giving, sometimes it makes sense to create equilibrium and restore balance to the ones that have been providing. Don't you think?

Lavender oil - Lavendula Angustifolia

LAVENDER (also known as Lavendula Angustifolia)

This is an essential oil with a household name. Lavender is used by so many that I have decided to write a little about this well known essential oil.

Lavender is a fresh, sweet oil that many people are aware of for use with insomnia. It may also have the opposite effect though as it can be used as a stimulating oil.
Literally 2 drops are all that is required when using to relax before bed.

Lavender is also known by many to have great skin healing properties. It was actually an accident which caused burning to the skin that created a greater interest in essential oils for their therapeutic use. A French chemist named, René-Maurice Gattefossé burnt his hand in his labratory. The first vat of liquid available was what he stuck his hand into - it contained the essential oil of Lavender. He was surprised to notice the effect the oil had on cooling the burn and aiding the healing process. I too can attest to this from personal experience.

Lavender has also been known to be used for it's anti-septic and anti-fungal qualities. In World War II a French surgeon, Jean Valnet, used it to treat wounded soldiers.
The applications of this oil truly are remarkable. It's a great little bottle to add to the first aid kit. You could also put it in your laundry cupboard as it helps to freshen up the laundry - especially if you have smelly work/sports wear.

Lavender blends very well with most oils.
It is used greatly in cosmetics, perfumes, soaps, insect repellants and teas.

Lavender can cause skin irritation and some people may feel nauseous from using it. I find it a very heady oil at times, it can be overpowering. This oil needs to be used sparingly and diluted preferably with a carrier oil (olive oil is suitable).
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