Why pregnancy massage or shiatsu?
Why might Pregnancy massage or shiatsu be a helpful choice for you during your journey through parenthood?
Why do we think that massage and shiatsu can be beneficial in maternity care?
The benefits of pregnancy massage and shiatsu
Shiatsu and massage offer tools to enable women and their families to focus inward and process the changes which are going on for them, both emotionally and physically during pregnancy.
Shiatsu and and massage offer a powerful combination of nurturing touch, breathing/visualisations, exercise and postural awareness which can be helpful during your pregnancy.
Nurturing touch can ease physical and emotional dis-ease and help the mother be more aware of the changes going on in her body during pregnancy. This includes tools for connecting with her baby and her partner.
Breathing can help the mother be more relaxed and connected with herself, as well as her baby and partner.
Exercise and postural awareness help support the mother’s body in the changes she is experiencing in pregnancy and prepare her body for birth and the postnatal period
Shiatsu includes an awareness of the eastern/traditional view of the body as a garden which needs to be nurtured and tended: supporting our body in its relationship to the environment.
The traditional views of the body tend to focus on how we change according to the environment we are in. This is a key stone of Chinese medicine, which includes Yin and Yang and the five element theory. We all know how stress affects us but we are always affected by our environment in subtle ways: by the time of day, where we are in the world, the season, who we are with and so on. Sometimes small changes we can make in our environment can have a big impact, such as simply getting up and moving around if our work involves a lot of sitting or choosing to limit the time we spend with people who are not supporting us. We are more sensitive to our environment when we are pregnant and our baby is also being profoundly affected by the environment. Shiatsu can support us to understand the changes we can make in both our internal and external environment to best support ourselves and our unborn child.
Awareness of the importance of the quality of the energy of whoever is working with the mother and her family
As we are affected by the environment, we are affected by people working with us. If our health professional is stressed that affects us and our baby. All Well Mother work is about tools which are equally useful for the practitioner as well as the mother and her family. If you see a Well Mother trained practitioner we hope that you will feel relaxed and at ease with them, however if you do not, then it is important to find a practitioner with whom you feel a supporting connection. For the practitioners who do our course, we encourage them to work with the tools to support their own health and well being. This is an important part of traditional healing practices: “physician heal thyself’. Especially with massage and shiatsu, the practitioner is, in essence, the tool for supporting change and balance and so needs to be in a state of health and balance themselves.
Why have Shiatsu and massage during your pregnancy?
Support for the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy.
By offering support for your changing body, shiatsu and massage can help you maintain good posture and muscle tone, providing relief from common aliments such as back ache, swelling, varicose veins. By providing a relaxing, safe space it can support your well being and offer a space for processing the emotional changes. It can also help you become more aware of your baby and changing body and help prepare you for labour. Common aliments such as constipation, morning sickness and heartburn can be addressed.
Relief from many of the physical symptoms of pregnancy.
A key aspect of our support is to help you become more aware of your body and you will be shown how to adapt your basic standing and sitting positions to support the pregnancy. You will also be shown other positions which might be helpful and simple stretches and exercises which you can easily incorporate into your daily life. Understanding how to adapt to your changing body can help ease many of the common symptoms such as back aches, head aches, shoulder tension, swollen ankles and feet. Of course, during your treatment work will be included which will address these problem areas and issues.
Support for the emotional changes in pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time of big emotional changes and often there is little space given for this in your normal antenatal care. As many women are having to juggle busy lives with work and family comitments, it can often feel quite a stressful time. Simply having an hour or more space just to be able to relax and tune into what is going on can be extremely beneficial. Seeing a practitioner who you can trust and having regular contact with them during your pregnancy, can provide a safe space in which you can air concerns. All bodywork addresses emotional issues in some way, as emotions are stored in our body. Shiatsu includes work with meridians which have direct connections to different emotional aspects of our being. A key aspect of work in pregnancy is to support you with developing your connection with your growing baby. This will be tailored to what feels appropriate and comfortable for you: often abdominal massage is one of the most enjoyed moment of the treatment, but not all women may want work on their abdomen. Sometimes breathing awareness or visualisations can be included as appropriate. If the therapist feels you need more psychological or other support than they can offer, they will refer you to other practitioners, and they may or may not continue to work along side them . They should also be able to provide information on local support networks such as Twins groups or pelvic pain groups as well as different types of classes such as yoga or swimming for pregnancy.
Benefits for the baby
A calm, relaxed environment is likely to be of benefit for the baby as well as the mother. It may help encourage mother/baby connection/bonding as well as optimal fetal positioning
Complementary support to your primary care: midwifery or obstetrical.
As shiatsu and massage are simply supporting your body then there is nothing which would be incompatible with your conventional medical care. Indeed they often help to fill in gaps such as having a little more space to discuss particular issues and having continuity of care.