This is an article which I wrote for the September issue of the Forces magazine, Just for Her. It is aimed at women working in the Forces and their families. Any comments on it welcome: I am trying to get shiatsu and massage more well known for pregnancy amongst the general public.
Looking after mum
Rebecca Judd, an Australian model, blogged about how her massage with a Well Mother trained therapist was the best she’d had “The thing I loved the most was that you are treated on a futon, lying on your side and also over a fit ball. It is the most relaxing, therapeutic massage I have ever had and in the final couple of months of my pregnancy with Oscar, I booked in for one every single week. I was addicted. Gemma knew exactly what was happening in my body, where Oscar was sitting and where I needed the most work- she was brilliant!”
Comments from other clients:
“it would give me a space where I could come back to myself”
“there were many fears and tensions that Suzanne worked through with me”
“ I had a difficult pregnancy and was physically very tired and worn out at points, but always felt calmer and stronger after seeing Suzanne”
Pregnancy is both exciting and challenging. It is a time when you want to feel looked after. You want someone to be able to listen to all the different feelings that you are experiencing and to have tips and solutions to help ease your backache, or nausea or tiredness. There are so many questions you have about what is happening to you. You are lucky if you have your mum around to support you: many women these days don’t. Maybe you have a really supportive midwife: but often midwives don’t have the time to give the nurturing support you may want. A new option which is on offer these days is to book yourself in for some pregnancy massages or shiatsu.
A specialist in pregnancy will be able to support you in many different ways. Most people know how massage can be very relaxing, as well as helping ease physical tensions such as back and shoulder ache. However some people are not sure whether it can be helpful during pregnancy. There is a lot of misleading information and there are many therapists offering pregnancy massage who have had no specific training.
I will outline why massage, and shiatsu, can be helpful during your pregnancy, what to expect during a session and how to find a suitably qualified practitioner.
How can massage support you?
Your pregnant body is having to work much harder than usual and, if you are continuing to work, which most women are, then you can often feel quite tired.
A space to feel comfortable and relaxed
Booking in a regular massage can give you a space in which you can take some time out to relax and to be supported. An experienced therapist knows that however good the massage is, if you are not in a comfortable position for you, you won’t be able to relax. Depending on the stage of pregnancy and your particular needs, this could be lying semi reclining, side lying, sitting or leaning over a ball. Some therapists will work on a table, and others may work on specially designed mats on the floor. They will have plenty of different bolsters and cushions to help you feel comfortable and help you change position as you need to.
As part of finding good positions, your therapist will be able to work out tips for how to be comfortable in the rest of your life. They will help you understand how your basic posture is affected by the increasing weight of your baby and give you some simple ideas as to how to adapt. This will also help to prepare you for labour and the physical demands of having a young baby.
What will the massage be like and how can it help me?
Massage is usually done directly on the skin with oil, and so you will undress but be covered with sheets so that you can feel comfortable. Shiatsu, uses the points and meridians of acupuncture and is usually done through the clothes because many techniques involve static holds.
The therapist will work to address not only your problem areas, but to help you feel connected with your whole body and the changes which you are going through. Depending on how much they use massage or shiatsu, this can involve stroking or kneading techniques, pressure techniques, which can range from very light to deeper pressure, depending on the area. Acupuncture points can be included which can help with sickness, headaches and supporting your body to get ready for birth.
An experienced therapist will be confident in working at all stages of your pregnancy, if appropriate, and they can include your baby. Some women like to place their own hands on their tummy and touch their baby and be guided to breathe more deeply and relax with their baby as part of the session. Other women enjoy having the therapist touch and massage their baby through the abdomen. Of course the strokes are gentle and appropriate to pregnancy. Often women find this can be the most relaxing part of the session and the baby often responds by moving or stretching out and relaxing too.
Your therapist can also offer you the option of having your partner attend some sessions so that they can teach him techniques to use either during your pregnancy, birth or after birth. This can be a good way for him to feel involved and prepare him for life with your new baby.
I have been developing specialist training for massage and shiatsu therapists since 1990 and have a register of appropriately trained therapists https://www.wellmother.org/resources-support/register as well as a website which has a lot more information about the benefits of massage and shiatsu.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Suzanne Yates, www.wellmother.org