Although fathers are far more involved in pregnancy and childbirth than they were in the pre 1960s era of pacing up and down outside the labour ward, there is still a danger that they can be sidelined and feel left out of the whole process.

Bristol mum Nina Edmonds found a way to help her husband Vern feel closer to their unborn children while she was pregnant as well as enabling her to feel more in control and aware of what was going on in her body. She gave birth to their second baby Jude, the day before the royal wedding and their daughter Rose has just turned two.

Nina, a 37-year-old chartered accountant on three year career break from KPMG, is a big fan of Shiatsu, having discovered the therapy through a friend.

“I was concerned I may have problems conceiving and I wanted to be fully mentally and physically prepared. My friend had been taught by Shiatsu pregnancy specialist Suzanne Yates so I went to have my first ever Shiatsu with her – only to discover I was already pregnant with Rose.

© Jules Selmes
Beautiful Birth

“I do a lot of yoga and have had massages in the past and Shiatsu shares some elements with traditional massage such as stretching, rocking and holding. But Shiatsu moves along certain key meridians and the release is more focused and intense and works with your body more. Everything is linked together. It’s a holistic approach.”

Nina had regular sessions and her husband Vern, a 38-year-old graphic designer whom she met at university, accompanied her to a session, as well as seeing Suzanne separately. They also went to one of her “teach the teacher” sessions with Rose as a baby and learnt about doing Shiatsu together.

“We had some Shiatsu together before I had Rose so Suzanne could show him some key points which would be useful during labour, such a holding and rubbing my lower back, shoulders and feet. Both Rose and Jude were born at home so Vern and I felt much more involved and in control. As he could help me in labour in a genuinely positive way it felt like he was more part of the process.

“During labour Shiatsu was very helpful and increased my awareness of my own body. I was able to surrender to my body and have the confidence to know everything was okay. It increased my awareness of the baby’s movement down the birth canal, and experience the baby’s journey into a new space. It was really very spiritual.

“I benefited from Shiatsu so much. I tell all my friends who are trying for babies or are pregnant or who have breech babies that they must try Shiatsu because I feel it really connected me with the babies. I had two healthy pregnancies, calm births and it helped me post birth too. I’m a big fan.”

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