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

Pregnancy Massage

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?

More Wise Words from Suzanne Yates

My passion for massage is great, I love to give treatments and I love to receive them. I also find myself leaning much towards the pregnancy aspect of what I do. Along with Aromatherapy these two modalities interest me the most.

In October I gave birth to my second child. Unlike my first pregnancy circumstances did not allow me to have multiple massages throughout and it is something that I feel my body is now suffering from. I wondered whether it would affect the birth process but so much is involved in that that I was fortunate enough to have another great, natural delivery. My mind remained in the right place, the support was perfect, it happened quickly and my body had done it before. Post natally it's a whole different thing and 13 weeks along my body is screaming out to relax.

The blog available to view on the website listed above is well worth reading.This blog belongs to Suzanne Yates from Well Mother. It highlights the importance of touch during pregnancy and after birth (for babies) explaining the development of our senses as conscious beings and why connection is just so important to us.

***I also love the artwork included in this blog, by Joanna Lloyd. Her business is 'mumabuba' in Sydney***

What Suzanne has written is for mum's to be, mum's that are, partners and anyone else that cares about someone who is on the journey of motherhood, whether it be their first or their fifth time. Take the time to find a therapist trained in the Well Mother way and enjoy a massage that is given with love, care and knowledge.

Why Have Shaitsu & Massage In Pregnancy?

The material written below has been copied from the Well Mother website and was written by founder and teacher Suzanne Yates,

This is an article which I wrote for the September issue of the Forces magazine, Just for Her. It is aimed at women working in the Forces and their families. Any comments on it are welcome: I am trying to get shiatsu and massage more well known for pregnancy amongst the general public.

Looking after mum
Rebecca Judd, an Australian model, blogged about how her massage with a Well Mother trained therapist was the best she’d had “The thing I loved the most was that you are treated on a futon, lying on your side and also over a fit ball. It is the most relaxing, therapeutic massage I have ever had and in the final couple of months of my pregnancy with Oscar, I booked in for one every single week. I was addicted. Gemma knew exactly what was happening in my body, where Oscar was sitting and where I needed the most work- she was brilliant!”

Comments from other clients:
“it would give me a space where I could come back to myself”
“there were many fears and tensions that Suzanne worked through with me”
“ I had a difficult pregnancy and was physically very tired and worn out at points, but always felt calmer and stronger after seeing Suzanne”

Pregnancy is both exciting and challenging. It is a time when you want to feel looked after.  You want someone to be able to listen to all the different feelings that you are experiencing and to have tips and solutions to help ease your backache, or nausea or tiredness. There are so many questions you have about what is happening to you. You are lucky if you have your mum around to support you: many women these days don’t. Maybe you have a really supportive midwife: but often midwives don’t have the time to give the nurturing support you may want. A new option which is on offer these days is to book yourself in for some pregnancy massages or shiatsu.

A specialist in pregnancy will be able to support you in many different ways. Most people know how massage can be very relaxing, as well as helping ease physical tensions such as back and shoulder ache.  However some people are not sure whether it can be helpful during pregnancy. There is a lot of misleading information and there are many therapists offering pregnancy massage who have had no specific training.

I will outline why massage, and shiatsu, can be helpful during your pregnancy, what to expect during a session and how to find a suitably qualified practitioner.

How can massage support you?
Your pregnant body is having to work much harder than usual and, if you are continuing to work, which most women are, then you can often feel quite tired.

A space to feel comfortable and relaxed
Booking in a regular massage can give you a space in which you can take some time out to relax and to be supported. An experienced therapist knows that however good the massage is, if you are not in a comfortable position for you, you won’t be able to relax. Depending on the stage of pregnancy and your particular needs, this could be lying semi reclining, side lying, sitting or leaning over a ball. Some therapists will work on a table, and others may work on specially designed mats on the floor. They will have plenty of different bolsters and cushions to help you feel comfortable and help you change position as you need to.

As part of finding good positions, your therapist will be able to work out tips for how to be comfortable in the rest of your life.  They will help you understand how your basic posture is affected by the increasing weight of your baby and give you some simple ideas as to how to adapt. This will also help to prepare you for labour and the physical demands of having a young baby.

What will the massage be like and how can it help me?
Massage is usually done directly on the skin with oil, and so you will undress but be covered with sheets so that you can feel comfortable. Shiatsu, uses the points and meridians of acupuncture and is usually done through the clothes because many techniques involve static holds.

The therapist will work to address not only your problem areas, but to help you feel connected with your whole body and the changes which you are going through. Depending on how much they use massage or shiatsu, this can involve stroking or kneading techniques, pressure techniques, which can range from very light to deeper pressure, depending on the area. Acupuncture points can be included which can help with sickness, headaches and supporting your body to get ready for birth.

An experienced therapist will be confident in working at all stages of your pregnancy, if appropriate, and they can include your baby. Some women like to place their own hands on their tummy and touch their baby and be guided to breathe more deeply and relax with their baby as part of the session. Other women enjoy having the therapist touch and massage their baby through the abdomen. Of course the strokes are gentle and appropriate to pregnancy. Often women find this can be the most relaxing part of the session and the baby often responds by moving or stretching out and relaxing too.

Your therapist can also offer you the option of having your partner attend some sessions so that they can teach him techniques to use either during your pregnancy, birth or after birth. This can be a good way for him to feel involved and prepare him for life with your new baby.

I have been developing specialist training for massage and shiatsu therapists since 1990 and have a register of appropriately trained therapists as well as a website which has a lot more information about the benefits of massage and shiatsu.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Suzanne Yates,

Pregnancy Massage

The 'You Tube' link below is from Suzanne Yates who teaches the Well Mother courses in massage and shiatsu for pregnancy. I studied with her in Bristol, England where she is based. I hope that the short video will give people an idea of what the pregnancy treatments I offer involve.

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