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Postnatal mother and baby

What can Well Mother offer to support you and your baby after birth?

suzanne_yates_wellmotherWe hope that you will find Shiatsu and Massage may be helpful resources for you at this time with their powerful combination of nurturing touch, breathing/visualisations, exercise and postural awareness.

Often the importance of support for the mother during the postnatal period is  neglected as the focus in the on the baby. Our work is about supporting both the mother and baby. With baby massage or shiatsu there is an emphasis on ensuring that the person giving the massage (mother or father) is relaxed.

Please go to What is Shiatsu for more information on shiatsu and also What is Well Mother for our specific approach.

Access to a public register of practitioners who can offer postnatal sessions for mother or baby and perhaps infant shiatsu or massage classes

We have some questions you can ask to help you find the right practitioner for you

If you decide that shiatsu or massage is something to consider, we have a register of practitioners who have trained with us.

Free sessions during Well Mother courses so you can see if it is a good approach for you

Information to help you decide if massage and shiatsu might be helpful for you and your baby

Infant shiatsu: a book by our German colleague, Karin Kablante Wernicke, who runs Infant Shiatsu courses for Well Mother,  about how to use shiatsu with your baby

If you have a question that isn’t here then please post a question via Well Mother face book pages or send a personal email to Well mother. These are free services.  If your question is more in depth and you need more of a mini consultation, this can be offered via Skype consultation. A fee will be charged for this service.

How do I find a practitioner?

Find a practitioner on the Wellmother register of shiatsu practitioners.

Some pracittioners have done training specifically in working with postnatal mothers

Baby shiatsu practitioners in the UK will have trained through Well Mother, either with Suzanne Yates (Shiatsu practitioner course page) , Karin Kalbantner Wernicke (Infant Shiatsu course page) , or both.

Infant massage therapists will have trained with Well Mother.

Questions for massage and shiatsu for the mother

How soon after birth can I have massage or shiatsu?

It’s excellent after birth and there is no specific time at which you can start receiving it. Indeed women who have received shiatsu and massage during their labour (see birth preparation section) may find it helpful to have some of the techniques continued. Shoulders are often tense and work can easily be done here. Of course, care needs to be taken with supporting the healing and not in over stimulating the body. The therapist needs to be alert of any signs of infection and that you are receiving appropriate medical support if needed. However there are many benefits to be gained from supporting your healing process and supporting your adaptation to life with a new baby. Many therapists will come and visit you in your home in the first few month while you are recovering. The work will be adapted to you. Of course if you have had a Caeserean then this will be taken into account and treatment modified to support your healing process.

I had a Caesarean: can shiatsu and massage help?

Yes: the therapist will  adapt the work to your body. Different people recover at different rates and differently after having a Caesarean. The therapist will check with you when it is appropriate to work directly over the incision and that can be very personal. Usually we encourage the mother to massage her scar first . Some Caeseraan can be positive experiences and some traumatic. So there is not one way that the therapist will work.

I can’t believe how saggy my tummy still is after having my baby. Can shiatsu and massage help?

Yes: because we can work with techniques and breathign and exercises which can support the healing process. Being aware of your body and recovery..

I am having some issues breastfeeding my baby. Can shiatsu and massage help?

Possibly: it depends on what the issue is. However there are usually things which can be included in the session which can support breastfeeding.

Work can focus on exploring the connection between you and your baby. This can include looking at how you are holding the baby while feeding and may include how you are feeling while feeding. You could feed your baby while receiving shiatsu or massage.

Strokes can be included which support lymphatic and milk flow in the breast and often these kind of issues may be causing issues with feeding.

Postural issues may also be addressed.

Of course the therapist will advise you to see a breastfeeding counsellor if they feel that this would also be helpful.

I have been told I have pelvic instability. I have a lot of pain still in my pelvis even after birth. Can shiatsu and massage help? How long will it take me to recover and how many treatments will I need? 

Shiatsu and massage can probably help support you: it depends on the reasons. However, the therapist can include techniques which can support the strengthening of your pelvis after birth and will of course only work with positions which don’t aggravate your instability. They can also advise on relevant life style concerns.

As the treatment is very individual the amount of time to recover and the number of treatments you will need will vary from person to person, depending on how bad it was in pregnancy, what were the causes, whether it was aggravated in labour or not and what you are doing to support the healing postnatally. The therapist will be supporting you in all these areas.

More about shiatsu and Pelvic girdle pain / Symphysis Pubis Instability

Is Pelvic Girdle pain  likely to be an issue in subsequent pregnancies and can shiatsu and massage help?

It depends on how bad it was in the previous pregnancy and what you have done to correct it.

If it was due more to asymmetry of the pelvis (ie poor posture, injury) then you need to make sure that you have this corrected as much as possible. This can be achieved by work to the muscles (soft tissue) which can include massage, shiatsu, structural integration (Rolfing) appropriate exercise and postural awareness. It may or may not need more manipulative type work such as osteopathy or chiropractics. Work to consolidate these changes can include shiatsu or cranial sacral work.

If it was due more to hypermobility then you need to make sure that the supporting muscles are strengthened. This includes all the pelvic muscles: not just the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor.  The Girdle Vessel meridian (see article on this) is a way of working all the muscles and a shiatsu practitioner can show you relevant exercises as well as working the meridian.

If it is caused more by an injury trauma (caused for eg by a forceps delivery) then some elements of both approaches above will be important.

For further info contact a local practitioner. The pelvic partnership also has good resources. Serola belt can help stabilise if you need to walk.

I have been feeling rather emotional after having my baby? I am concerned that I might be depressed. Is there anything shiatsu and massage can offer?

It is actually quite normal to feel emotionally up and down after birth: you are having to make huge physical and emotional adaptations. These days women often get little support and so tiredness and stress can make the recovery period difficult. Having shiatsu or massage may help create a space in which can relax and start to focus on your needs as well as supporting your body in its process of emotional and physical recovery. The therapist can also offer some tools such as simple exercise, breathing and relaxation which can support you in your process. They can also help you identify if you need additional support.

From a shiatsu point of view, how we feel is determined to some extent by the blood in our system. After birth, there is a relative depletion of Blood and indeed all energies and it takes time to build these up. Work can be done to support this process and as well as supporting you physically it may be able to support you emotionally.

Frequently asked questions about Baby shiatsu and massage.

My baby has colic. Can shiatsu and massage help?

Yes, often. Emotional and physical issues are often very interconnected. With our approach we look at both the mother as well as the baby. If the mother is feeling stressed or unsupported in some way, this will have an impact on the baby and this needs to be addressed. However there are also specific techniques which can support the baby’s digestive system on both a physical and emotional level.

My baby has issues with sleeping. Can shiatsu and massage help?

The first thing the practitioner will do is to find out if there is a problem. Babies sleep differently from adults and it may be just that you have unrealistic expectations for your baby. This is why our therapist are aware of baby’s development at different stages. However it may also be that your baby has a digestive or emotional issue which is making sleep more difficult and often there are techniques which can support the baby directly as well.

Benefits of postnatal work for mother

Benefits for mother and partner

  • Helps promote postnatal recovery, facilitating the restoration of pre-pregnancy physiology eg by supporting abdominal and pelvic floor toning, relieving back and shoulder aches, improving circulation and lymphatic flow, supporting energy flows
  • May help prevent and provide support in cases of postnatal depression
  • Touch may help in the birthing recovery process by helping relieve stress and trauma, especially if the birth experience differed from the woman’s expectations. It may also help promote physical recovery and support healing from the effects of any strains or medical interventions experienced during birth.
  • Helps promote a positive relationship with her partner and baby: the partner can be involved in providing bodywork for mother and baby. The partner could also receive bodywork to support them in their adjustment to parenthood.
  • Provides support for the emotional demands of early mothering
  • Provides a relaxed environment
  • Helps promote sleep, giving space for rest, easing fatigue
  • Offers support for breastfeeding

Benefits for baby

  • Can offer a space for the mother to be with the baby without other demands
  • Offers support for bonding and feeding
  • emotional development

Long term implications

  • Supports the family unit in making the transitions
  • Helps lays foundations to support the long term emotional and physical health of mother, father and baby

Infant massage

Touch is beneficial to your baby. Massage is a lovely tool as it can include lots of stroking and touch with oil. Practitioners trained with Well mother will also include some elements of shiatsu (see below)
Suzanne and Anne Badger who run the infant massage courses have written two blog piece for…….link here

Regular massage/shiatsu contributes enormously to your baby’s physical and emotional development and can be fun for both the baby and the parents. It can also help heal birth trauma or support during periods of illness. You can learn techniques to use on your baby, or the practitioner may include some direct work with your baby if it seems appropriate – or a combination of the two. The main emphasis, however, is to enable the parent to work with their baby, rather than for the baby to receive work from a practitioner.

How is shiatsu beneficial for your baby?

baby-shiatsu-1Shiatsu can be a way to bond with your child. It includes touch, relaxation and exercise. There are techniques which can support your baby’s development, in a fun way.

You can have the option of being taught techniques you can use with your baby or the practitioner can work directly with your baby if this seems appropriate.

If your baby has specific issues which you need some support with then it may be appropriate for the practitioner to work directly with your baby in order to work out what would be most suitable. This way you can be given a specially designed programme.

How is shiatsu different from massage?

Shiatsu includes elements of massage, such as stroking and gentle kneading. It also includes some stretches and movements for your baby. Shiatsu also includes some work with meridians and acupuncture points.

Sometimes your baby may simply want to be held in certain areas rather than stroked. The stretches and movements can support different aspects of your baby’s development. A basic routine can be taught which you can adapt to your baby’s needs.

There are points which can address physical issues, such as digestion, breathing, teething and strengthening the immune system. There are also points which can have a direct emotional effect, such as calming and soothing emotional distress.

Shiatsu can be done through the clothes as well as directly on the skin with oil

infant massage classThis can be great when you are out with the baby, when it is cold, or if you don’t have time to undress the baby. It may also be that your baby doesn’t like being undressed.

Infant shiatsu is often included as part of a session with the parent.

The infant shiatsu practitioner will often give exercises for the parent as well as the baby. Work can be included for the parent if appropriate. In eastern cultures if the baby is ill, it is important to look at the parent as well as the child.

Some exercises will specifically include both parent and baby interacting. These are enjoyable as well as supportive for both parent and baby.

There is an awareness of you carry and touch your baby so that you can support their development and at the same time make sure that you are looking after yourself.

Breathing is an important part of this and shiatsu may include relaxing and breathing calmly with your baby.

When can I start giving my baby shiatsu?

As soon after birth as feels appropriate. Early shiatsu would probably consist of simple holds and skin to skin contact. This would be shown for you to do before the birth or the practitioner would come to your home in the first weeks. Later you can attend one to one sessions or classes.

Useful reading

Karin Kalbanter Wernicke (see Infant Shiatsu course page) has a new book out in September, calledBaby Shiatsu published by Singing Dragon.

You can also read Beautiful Birth by Suzanne Yates.

Photos on this page from “Baby Shiatsu” by Karin Kalbantner Wernicke.