Massage Therapist, Doula
What is it?
Basically it is Massage Therapy adapted for the pregnant and postpartum bodies. A lot of it has to do with positioning for comfort. During pregnancy (moreso in the second and third trimesters) I use a pregnancy cushion or pillows to position the pregnant woman in either side-lying, face/belly down, and semi-reclining. Postpartum Massage I offer in office or in-home sessions for those in the early days/weeks. Depending on the type of birth the woman had will affect their positioning as well as tender breasts (if they are breastfeeding). Some women might not be ready to lay belly down and continue in side-lying, while others can’t wait! Sometimes I still use my pregnancy cushion during early postpartum with my clients.
As a Prenatal Massage Therapist, I am trained on the changes the woman’s body goes through during pregnancy and postpartum and can help relieve some of the common symptoms and discomforts, while keeping mom and baby safe.
My approach is unique in that I sometimes incorporate other modalities into the Massage Session for the best outcomes. For example-reflexology, acupressure and craniosacral therapy. These modalities can help address some of the other symptoms women encounter during pregnancy such as nausea and heartburn.
Why would someone see an Massage Therapist when pregnant?
Most people come see me for Massage during pregnancy for 2 reasons- Pain, or Stress Relief. Most of the time it’s pain. But once they see how wonderful they feel afterwards, they keep coming back for relaxation, pain management, taking time for themselves, stress relief.
Some pregnant women are uncomfortable because they’re pregnant and complain of low back ache, hip pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, leg cramps, sore feet, swelling in their arms and legs, headaches or carpal tunnel symptoms.
But other times they had pre-existing conditions that have been exacerbated by pregnancy and they are looking for a new therapist who is comfortable working on pregnant people and can do so safely. I’ve treated many pregnant women with the above symptoms but also seen them get relief from things like nausea, heartburn, jaw pain, pelvic pain, rib pain, constipation and insomnia either from massage alone or by incorporating other modalities into the massage such as acupressure, reflexology, thai stretching and craniosacral therapy.
Lori is our (Prenatal/Postnatal) Massage Therapist and is an integral member of our circle of care team, here at Safe Harbour Therapy.
What would a session look like if someone hasn’t attended before?
I start by having them fill out an Intake Form as well as a Prenatal Intake to find out how their health is in general, and then how it’s been during pregnancy, if there’s been any complications, their reproductive history and what they are struggling with. We then talk about what they are wanting to get out of the session and decide on how they would like to be positioned for the massage, and what my recommendations are based on what symptoms they are experiencing.
We come up with a treatment plan for the session and I step out of the room while they get undressed and underneath the sheets. During the session, I get to know their body better and find what areas are out of balance. I work intuitively and will sometimes adapt the treatment plan depending on what I find once my hands start working, with appropriate consent. After the session, I may discuss what I observed and make recommendations for home care exercises/stretches that will help improve their condition between massages, as well as how often to come for massages.
After birth, it is very similar. I like to get a picture of what the birth was like, what interventions were used, how long it was, what areas of their bodies are sore afterwards, and whether they had a vaginal/caesarean birth and whether or not they are breastfeeding. This helps me to know how to position them, what areas to focus on, what modalities to use and how much pressure they may respond to. Early postpartum sessions can be done in their home while they are still recovering from birth and can aid healing.
How does prenatal massage therapy work?
Prenatal Massage Therapy goals are to relieve pain and tension by reducing knots, tight areas and addressing postural imbalances.
As with any massage session, a big component is relaxation-so we are working with the nervous system to induce relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (Think- rest and digest), where healing occurs.
Who developed the protocol for massage Therapy for pregnant moms?
There are a couple of women who seem to have been the pioneers for prenatal massage education in North America and that is Elaine Stillerman and Carol Osborne.
What are some links to research about the effects massage Therapy for pregnancy?
Pregnant Women Benefit from Massage Therapy
Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birthweight and postpartum depression.
Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women
Yoga and massage therapy reduce prenatal depression and prematurity
Pregnancy and labor massage