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Maternity Shiatsu Diploma course: “Holistic care in pregnancy, birth and babyhood”

For an overview of all we offer for shiatsu practitioners, and how the foundation course relates to the Diploma course, please visit our introductory page

Maternity Shiatsu Diploma course dates

Maternity Shiatsu Diploma Course for Shiatsu Practitioners: “Holistic care in pregnancy, birth and babyhood”

The full course of 4 modules, each 4 days, will give you a thorough understanding of practical techniques for working during the whole maternity period, with mother and baby.

We have now slightly changed the course so there is a foundation module on fertility, the menstrual cycle and early pregnancy and miscarriage. One you have attended this then you can attend the other 3 modules.

You can choose to attend specific modules independently and attend the modules in any order.  The modules are:

Module : Pregnancy

Module : Birth and the immediate postpartum period, including birth preparation for parents and third trimester work.

Module : Postnatal mother and baby

This course is for shiatsu practitioners working with maternity (pregnancy, birth and postnatal) clients who have already done the Foundation Courses. The birth and postnatal module in the UK are open to massage therapists and midwives who have already studied with Suzanne. The course is usually taught by Suzanne Yates.

Practical work is backed up by a thorough understanding of meridian/organ changes and a grounding in the anatomy and physiology of the maternity period.

During each module there is a supervised clinic session working with maternity clients. You will also learn appropriate self-help exercises for mothers, including birth positions and exercises with babies.

To obtain the Diploma and go on the register of practitioners, you need to complete case studies and a project. In the UK this may involve a graduation weekend. Projects have included work with fertility, the menstrual cycle and the menopause, integrating shiatsu with Chi Kung, cranial sacral work, as well as working with midwives.

Why would I want to learn maternity shiatsu?

Our courses will not only help you to develop your work with maternity clients but you will also find that the Well Mother approach  to Shiatsu enhances your work with all  your clients. Many people also find the courses are a powerful healing process for themselves.  The time we all spend in our mother’s womb and our experience of birth and our early childhood forms the base of experience for the rest of our lives. Understanding the impact of this time is fundamental to understanding our energy in the present.

What will I learn on the Shiatsu Diploma course? 3 modules: pregnancy, birth and postnatal

A key aspect of this course is a detailed exploration of the Extra-ordinary vessels, both experientially as well as in shiatsu. Especially fundamental are the Penetrating Vessel and the Girdle Vessel. All these vessels are particularly powerful during the maternity period, which offers a time to develop a deeper understanding of them.  Another aspect is how to include working with the baby, both in pregnancy and during birth, as well as postnatally, and how to work with the changing hara of the mother. Work is also done on how to integrate the 12 meridians work along with the Extra-ordinary vessels.

This course gives a thorough understanding of practical techniques for working during the whole maternity period, with mother and baby. Suitable self-help exercises for mothers, including birth positions and exercises with babies, are taught. This is backed up by a thorough understanding of meridian/organ changes and a grounding in the anatomy and physiology of the maternity period with emphasis on those aspects which directly affect the shiatsu work. There is some exploration of the effects of different obstetrical interventions on the energy of mother and baby, particularly with regard to birth trauma.

Throughout there is an emphasis on the energetic links between mother and baby and how to include an awareness of the baby in the womb in your work. Part of the course is about being aware of and processing your own experiences of your womb life, birth and immediate postnatal experiences, through meditation and visualisation.

Module  – Pregnancy

Practical shiatsu skills

includes integrating structural and lymphatic work; working with the 3 chou, the Girdle Vessel; spinal work, abdominal work and supporting the mother/baby connection; ways of working with specific conditions.


includes: pre-conceptual health, menstruation and fertility issues, case-taking skills; changes for the mother and embryological development from a meridian and physiology point of view.

Module  – Birth and the effects of birth on the postnatal period

Practical shiatsu skills

Includes; shiatsu for birth initiation; shiatsu for different stages of labour; teaching partners: how to work with the baby in labour, the effects of the birth on the postnatal period for mother and baby and supporting bonding and breastfeeding


includes: different stages of labour from an eastern and western perspective, effects of obstetrical intervention for mother and baby, particularly how they affect the meridians;

Module  – Postnatal work with mother and baby (from birth to one year)

Practical shiatsu skills

Includes; appropriate techniques for the mother for the early period,  supporting breastfeeding, techniques for the later period after 6 weeks, including deeper abdominal work; shiatsu for babies at different developmental stages, both teaching parents and working directly with babies; ways of working with specific postnatal conditions for mother and baby.


includes: childhood development to 1year, from an eastern and western perspective.understanding breastfeeding from an eastern and western perspective, changes for the mother in the first year.

Graduating weekend

Held approximately 6 months after completion of the 3 modules in the UK

Each participant is expected to undertake a written project of a minimum of 3-5,000 words, exploring some aspect of their work in this field. They will present it to the rest of the group in a teaching session, at this final weekend.

This is just for courses in the UK: other courses have slightly different requirements which are outlined during the course. All courses however have some case study work to complete the Diploma.

Aims of course

1. To deepen our understanding of Shiatsu during pregnancy, birth and babyhood – including Shiatsu for labour and baby massage.

  • Oriental views of pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period – including energy changes in the mother and development of the fetus/baby.
  • Knowledge of appropriate and contra-indicated techniques and points.
  • Knowledge of different positions for different stages of pregnancy, birth and postnatally.
  • Awareness of back and abdominal care for mother, including positions and techniques to avoid.
  • Techniques for labour, including use of birth positions.
  • Teaching Shiatsu to partners – for pregnancy, labour and baby.
  • The baby – awareness of the baby in the womb and baby massage.

2. To develop a holistic approach to pregnancy, birth and babyhood – exploring our own beliefs and integrating other approaches into our practice.

  • Self development – awareness of how our beliefs and experiences affect our work – e.g. our births, giving birth, sexuality, menstruation.
  • Other holistic therapies of particular relevance during this period.
  • Practical ideas and suggestions to support the work of the Shiatsu session e.g. exercises, breathing, relaxation, visualisations.
  • Encouraging development of the mother’s and father’s relationship with the baby and their confidence in their own bodies and wisdom.
  • Professional development – marketing, business issues, setting up classes, networking, support, working with other professionals both within the NHS and holistic field.

3. To provide an understanding of the medical model of pregnancy, birth and babyhood, particularly of the ways it can undermine a woman’s and partner’s confidence in themselves.

  • An understanding of anatomy and physiology of pregnancy including; main symptoms, physiological and pathological conditions, which are amenable to treatment with shiatsu, which need to be referred on and to whom.
  • Our relationship to the NHS – the medical approach to birth.
  • Being able to support women in making informed choices about their care.


  • Supervised clinical practice – clinics where pregnant and post natal women and their partners and babies attend.
  • Written assessments and presentation of case studies.
  • Lecture presentations and self-development work.
  • Certification on successful completion of course and assessments. Diploma issued and can be on the Well Mother register of practitioners.
  • Options of follow up days and ongoing support.

Entrance requirements and insurance

For the introductory day applicants need to be either graduates of a shiatsu school or students in their third year.

For Part Two, the minimum requirement is to be a third year student, graduating before the completion of the course.

You will need to have up to date insurance.

Ongoing support

Once the course has been completed, ongoing support is provided through individual supervision,Continuing Professional Development and a message board (this is not a public forum).