Is Prenatal Massage just a side-lying massage?
If I had stopped learning about prenatal massages after school, then I would have said yes. A side-lying massage with a limit on deep pressure and absolutely NO TOUCHING THE FEET! Thankfully, I invested a little more time in prenatal massage and childbirth education. One of the greatest benefits of massage during pregnancy is relaxation. Regular massage supports the parasympathetic nervous system and endocrine system to produce an environment that encourages a healthy and productive pregnancy and labor.
However, relaxation isn’t the only goal of prenatal massage and thankfully we are not limited to only relaxation techniques. Physical changes during pregnancy can create several muscular skeletal imbalances. An increase in size of thoracic cavity, the shifts in the pelvis, tightness in the abdomen, and a decrease in arch of the foot are all changes that can lead to achiness in joints, low back pain and babies who want to hang out in one area of the pelvis. Pain relief massage modalities such as neuromuscular therapy and myofascial release can be resolutions to these muscular imbalances and the suggestion of corrective exercises and stretches will help promote balance. Massage is also extremely beneficial to increase circulation through the legs when the feet may begin to swell in the latter stages of pregnancy, another exciting side effect.
As far as the side-lying position, sure that’s a position that is recommended with the support of pillows, but depending on your medical history, what’s currently happening in your pregnancy how far along you and your over all comfort level will determine how you receive massage.
Can you tell me what position my baby is in?
After completing training with Spinning Babies, one of the most exciting techniques I learned (and continue to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE) is Belly Mapping. Belly Mapping helps identify where in the uterus your baby is. In a massage session I use this technique to help me gather more information about the pelvis and to teach moms how to practice recognizing baby’s movements; strong jolts are often kicks while flutters are often punches, hard round bumps are often head and or butt and long, smooth surfaces indicates the baby’s back. This has become a beautiful opportunity to bond with baby and build a connection before delivery. The pure joy in a new mom’s eyes as soon as I help her confirm that no that’s not gas that’s your baby saying hello, is a precious moment for me.
Bonding is not the only reason why practicing identifying positions is important. Knowing where baby is can help us know what positions are most helpful to facilitate an easier exit for baby’s delivery! Providing guidance and positions to my clients to practice before the big PUSH are tools in their tools box they will know how to use when needed.
I don't know how to prepare for birth, can you help me?
After I completed my prenatal massage training, I just wanted more; more knowledge (outside of my own personal experience) of the birth process. Talking to women about birth, I found that there was a common theme; go to the hospital and whatever the doctor says, just do it. I was even told, “don’t try to be a super hero, just take the epidural”. Well, I didn’t care about being a super hero, but what were my options and what was I capable of? My husband demonstrated an innate ability that birth support was key in encouraging my own ability of naturally delivering 3 beautiful babies in a hospital setting. So, I became a Doula. It was this training that really taught me about birth and how to support a woman prior to delivery. From women who have no clue of what to expect, women who have experienced birth trauma, women who only want a water birth, to women who are told they couldn’t deliver vaginally, I listen. We talk about what birth may look like, we talk about worst case scenarios, we talk about post-cesarean care, we talk about the fear of birthing, we talk about pain with purpose, we normalize birthing, we talk about breathing, we talk about positions, we talk about one contraction at a time. I’ve seen beautiful transformations in moms when they inhale courage and exhale fears.
Do you make Hospital Visits?
YES! I love coming into the birthing room to provide massage and if the invitation is extended to be a birth assistant, I am happy to be utilized where I am needed. I most love teaching others in the rooms, husbands, sisters, Grandma-to-be different ways they can be helpful too. One of the unique experiences I had during Covid when extra birth support was not allowed in the hospitals, was inviting birthing couples into the office to learn birthing positions and massage techniques. One of the husbands I worked with said, “I feel empowered, like I know how to help her.” It was that moment that I knew I wanted to create a class for birthing couples (in the works.)
I'm ready...can you work your magic and induce me?
No. But this is the number one question I get asked. There is no magic button I am going to push on you that will start your labor. There are techniques that I can apply that can encourage labor AFTER it has started and there are certainly positions and techniques a midwife or Doula can do to enhance the birth process, but in your massage session, I promise you I will massage your feet and you will not deliver your baby during that hour. But! Could an amazing relaxing therapeutic massage set-up an environment to ready the birth process. I believe so.
So where ever you are in your birth process…thinking about conceiving or already pregnant, start today to take care of your body and mind by setting up regular massage appointments to help prepare your body for this extraordinary event!