You have your baby and you probably have lots of questions. We look at how shiatsu and massage can support you and answer the following questions:

How soon after birth can I have massage or shiatsu?
I had a Caesarean: can shiatsu and massage help?
I can’t believe how saggy my tummy still is after having my baby. Can shiatsu and massage help?
I am having some issues breastfeeding my baby. Can shiatsu and massage help?
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?
Is Pelvic Girdle pain likely to be an issue in subsequent pregnancies and can shiatsu and massage help?
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?

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.

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 breathing 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

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.

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