Like many massage therapists, I was drawn into the profession by gratification of helping others. I tend to be a bit of a mother hen, always wanting those around me to feel safe and cared for. That strong nurturing bone in me has always loved working on moms, especially expectant mom’s, partially because they always expressed such gratitude and appreciation for the relief that they feel in sessions.
Two years ago a childhood friend of mine, who was pregnant at the time, said she would like to get a massage but wondered if I had a special prenatal cushion to allow her to lay face down. She explained that she hadn’t been able to lay face down for months. When she went to her chiropractor, who had one of these cushions, it was such a relief that she would have paid him just for the luxury of laying down!
Never having been pregnant before, I was embarrassed at my own oblivion toward my expectant mama’s comfort. Here I had been doing prenatal massages since 2001 and many of my clients, it turns out probably weren’t even comfortable laying on the table! Sure, I gave my clients a pillow or two for side-lying position. I had thorough prenatal massage training in school and had taken home-study course refreshers since graduating, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to take better care of my prenatal clients, to be more in-tuned with their needs.
Inspired to better my practice, I found a prenatal massage certification class offering by Claire Marie Miller in Baltimore, Md. in the Spring of 2014. What was supposed to be a three day workshop turned out to be a transformative experience for me and changed my whole view of pregnancy and childbirth. The course (entitled ‘Nurturing the Mother’) covered massage during labor, postpartum and even infant massage.
Until ‘Nurturing the Mother’ I felt a certain amount of trepidation around pregnancy in general. Death and the creation of life are two areas which our society doesn’t feel comfortable talking openly about. It’s something that mostly happens in hospitals away from everyday life. We have a tendency to fear the unknown, and to compound the issue the messages that the American media puts out tend to portray childbirth as a medical crisis and stereotype pregnant women as these vulnerable, handicapped bundles of emotion just waddling around.
Claire Marie Miller’s workshop gave me the opportunity to listen to so many real and personal birth stories, as told from the perspective of women. This experience of listening and also just watching home videos of women and midwives from other cultures giving birth had a major impact on my psyche. I now think of pregnancy and childbirth as a healthy and natural process that women’s bodies are designed to do. Not something to be afraid of. Yes, pregnant women are more vulnerable to environmental factors, there are even some who need to abstain from massage, but they are also amazingly strong and resilient!
Learning safe, effective massage techniques to keep women comfortable throughout pregnancy, labor, and postpartum helped me to feel more confident as a massage therapist working in this field. Learning more about contraindications and risk factors also helped me to feel better prepared in knowing what issues to look out for.
After the Nurturing the Mother workshop, I was fortunate enough have pregnant girlfriends close by to practice my new found techniques on. It was helpful to be able to work so closely together and to witness up close the changes that women’s bodies go through throughout the course of pregnancy and beyond.
In August 2014 one of the women, who I had been working closely with invited me to give her massage during her labor. Her seasoned doula guided me in helpful massage techniques to use. It felt amazing to be present for such a momentous occasion, and to be able to offer support to my friend in one of her finest hours. I left in complete awe of the human body and spirit.
Shortly thereafter I moved to Colorado Springs, where friends and family urged me to pursue a doula training. I attended to a CAPPA labour doula workshop with Ana M. Hill which was very informative. While my massage practice doesn’t currently allow me to leave work on such short notice as a doula requires, the training definitely enriched my massage practice by giving me a better idea of some of the choices and challenges that pregnant women face. I learned more about options and resources that are available, as well as met some fantastic local birth care providers.
While I did end up purchasing that fancy contour cushion for laying face down, it turns out that most of my pregnant mamas are most comfortable side-lying with the aid of a good pillow fortress. The contour cushion does come in handy for postpartum massage, especially for breast feeding women.
If you would like to book a prenatal or postpartum massage for yourself or a friend, please let us know your specific needs, and due date/delivery date. While there are no studies that link massage to miscarriage, we recommend waiting until you are past your first trimester of pregnancy to be cautious. Anyone with a high risk pregnancy should consult with your doctor before receiving massage.
I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you! Check out our online booking for a quick and easy way to schedule. Thanks for taking the time to read my story!
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