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Shiatsu books on pregnancy and childbirth

Pregnancy and Childbirth: an holistic approach to massage and bodywork

book-pregnancy-childbirthSuzanne Yates

Pregnancy and childbirth: an holistic approach to massage and bodywork brings together, for the first time, western and eastern approaches providing a sound amalgamation of theoretical and practical information for bodywork practitioners world-wide.

Further information about Pregnancy and Childbirth book

Beautiful Birth

beautiful-birth-book-coverSuzanne Yates

A practical guide to preparing body and mind for birth providing the “tools” – touch, breathing, visualizations, postures and physical preparation – to ease pain and promote progress. It is easy to learn and practise at home with a birth partner and suitable for all types of deliveries.

Further information about the book

Shiatsu for Midwives

book-shiatsuformidwivesSuzanne Yates with Tricia Anderson

A book written primarily for midwives but also useful for shiatsu practitioners, massage therapists, doulas and parents. This practical guide offers effective alternatives to orthodox treatment and provides a valuable addition to modern midwifery care.

Further information including an outline of the book.

Shiatsu therapy for pregnancy

Bronwyn Whitlocke

Bronwyn Whitlocke, an Australian acupuncturist and shiatsu practitioner, has published (1999) a book “Shiatsu therapy for pregnancy”. It is an admirable attempt to fill the gap in literature for shiatsu practitioners working in this field. Its main strength is the inclusion of interesting point combinations and techniques for specific conditions and situations which may arise during pregnancy, birth and postnatally.

She gives a summary of different patterns which arise in the three trimesters, such as what happens with Liver energy and its relationship to progesterone, and how to work. The postnatal section is particularly detailed, with energy patterns and points and techniques suggested for a variety of conditions. The shiatsu work is backed up by some TCM advice regarding diet and lifestyle therapy. She also considers how pre-pregnancy patterns affect work during pregnancy.

However, Bronwyn Whitlocke’s approach is from the perspective of being first and foremost an acupuncturist. Although some reference is made to techniques, it is fairly basic and not always clear, such as “do the shoulder cross-over stretch” with no further description or diagram. She doesn’t go into great detail about the role of hara diagnosis and building up a diagnostic picture from a shiatsu perspective. There are a few too many generalisations for example about what may be kyo or jitsu and therefore what to sedate or tonify without taking into account the different energy patterns in different women, which tends towards a rather simplistic views at times e.g. “you should sedate the recipient’s Bladder meridian”. I also feel that more understanding could be given of why certain points may be contraindicated and the situations in which they may be desirable to include.

I think many of these limitations stem from the fact that she has decided to aim the book not only at the shiatsu practitioner, but also at the mother’s support person, who may be a friend, or a midwife. In such a short book of 199 small spaced-out pages, she is attempting to describe some of the main concepts of shiatsu and how a complete beginner may use some shiatsu techniques. This means that for example the chapter on pregnancy physiology is 3 pages long and only covers the menstrual cycle. This is important, but means she has missed out the hormonal changes in pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period and other important anatomical and physiological aspects which need to be understood to work safely and effectively with pregnant women. The exercise section contains very basic suggestions. This approach leads to a book which is often very confusing for the non-shiatsu practitioner. It is often not clear which sections are relevant and which are not, and for pages of no interest to the shiatsu practitioner such as obvious guidelines on working with the mother hand and phrases such as “You should neither scold or impose your own morality…….it is not our place to condemn.”

The style of the book is unattractive and feels more like some hastily put together course notes than a reference book. The diagrams are poorly presented and the photographs not always very clear. It is written sometimes rather obscurely, which makes even someone familiar with TCM have to read some sentences through several times in order to understand them. This is a shame, since I feel Bronwyn has some useful information, but for whatever reason has chosen to put what should be in two books, into one book, and therefore failed to address either audience in the most effective way.

You can read a review of the same book from a midwifery perspective

Shiatsu for a healthy pregnancy and delivery


For non-shiatsu practitioners wishing to apply some shiatsu techniques to the maternity period, Ohashi’s book “Shiatsu for a healthy pregnancy and delivery” is a much better presented book. As it only attempts to address the needs of the non-practitioner, it is a much clearer book, and Ohashi’s style of shiatsu comes through admirably – there are many excellent exercises for the development of touch skills and coming from hara. It gives about the right level of points and techniques for a beginner to master easily. It has very clear diagrams and pictures and is also written in an accessible way. My only criticism of this book, is that there are some exercises which are not particularly suitable for pregnancy and he doesn’t cover suitable positions for labour – recommending instead that a mother lies on her back for second stage – but then it was written in 1983 before the use of more “active” birth positions was popularised. The binding is inadequate – I have had to have my copy properly rebound, but despite this, I feel it has stood the test of time well.

It is however too basic to be a great deal of use to the shiatsu practitioner, although it does contain a few useful points, covering 15 conditions in pregnancy, including some of the more common ones such as sinus congestion, leg cramps, heartburn and haemorrhoids.

Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Chinese Medicine

Giovanni Macciocia

An interesting book which is aimed at the practitioner is the latest Giovanni Macciocia contribution “Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Chinese Medicine”, published in 1988. For a shiatsu practitioner it provides an invaluable contribution to the TCM theoretical aspects of the maternity period. It is, unlike Whitlocke’s sometimes obtuse style, written, as his other books, in a clear, easily understandable style – making the teaching of the classics of TCM accessible to a modern audience. It provides interesting point combinations, with detailed descriptions of the actions of points. He covers in much greater detail a wider range of situations than does Whitlocke’s book – but then this is a book which has obviously been meticulously researched, methodically written and referenced and fills 939 pages. As its title suggests, it covers much more than just the maternity period – giving detailed coverage of menstrual problems, infertility, the menopause, breast lumps, abdominal masses and some other gynaecological conditions, but the relevant maternity coverage is about 452 pages. It is useful also in its detailed references to the relevant anatomy and physiology. It is a shame that the labour section is more basic than the other sections and contains more empirical points without presenting the theory aspects of delivery. It is unfortunate for the shiatsu practitioner that this book is for acupuncturists and herbalists, so is not useful on the practical techniques or exercise suggestions. At £72 it is perhaps more suitable as a schools’ reference book, than a book which every practitioner would want to have on their shelf, unless they were specialising in gynaecology and obstetrics.