One of the most interesting and rewarding skills a massage therapist or bodyworker could learn is prenatal and postnatal massage. This post will be a different then most because I would like to share more than just some useful and interesting information about this topic but also something far more personal and intimate about my experiences with this work. I hope that not only will woman but also their co-parent (male or female) will read this post as well. It is apart of profession that changed me as a person as well as a practitioner.
My prenatal massages have just a few simple goals: 1. Calm mothers mind and body through quite and comfort. 2. Help mothers coupe with some of the physical changes a pregnancy. 3. Allow the co-parent (when possible) to learn how to help in the mom with the physical changes of a pregnancy. Every session is about leaving the world behind you, where no one has advice for you that you never asked for, and where you can just be yourself and nothing else.
Many expected parents never even think of massage during pregnancy and if they do I often hear, “It’s a luxury at a time when money is about to get a lot tighter.” To all of them I would say that if they were going to every consider it to call a practitioner and talk about what sessions are like and what they could offer. I tell people to contact me personally before counting out the idea. A free consolation is always worth the call. A prenatal and postnatal massage for me is one of those rare times I think as a male massage therapist and bodyworker this kind of session really allows me to be chivalrous and a true “gentlemen” in the modern word. I treat the client with a compassion and reverence that i think we do not see in the service industry anymore.
So how does this whole thing work? Simple really…a call from mom or a gift giver who is looking into the idea. During that conversation I will ask some simple health questions as well as get an idea of what the person already knows about the topic (more often then not people have done their homework already to one degree or another). Then it’s just a matter of preparing the gift card or making the appointment.
How does one prepare for a prenatal massage? Well, mom just needs to make sure there is enough time to get to me for the appointment and also have time to use the bathroom once arrived. If you have a 5:00pm session in general getting in the door by 4:50pm works. Once you get toward the end of the pregnancy then 4:45pm works better. Bring with the stuffed animal or favorite pillow to cuddle with for its calming effect. Sometimes bringing in special music that is calming to you is also nice. If at all possible I encourage the co-parent to show up at the end of the session time by coming with and hanging out in the waiting area or just coming in about 10 mins before the end of the session for education and bonding time. Water and a small snack helps too if it has been a long day.
Prenatal massage routines and and positioning of people is somewhat controversial but I will tell you how I do it. Mothers are always welcome to start prenatal work with me starting at the beginning of the second trimester if there are no medical concerns. I always place people on the their left side and with many pillows to provide support and comfort. To make things even easier I adjust the height of the table to make sure you can get on and off the table more easily.
Sessions are normally 90 minutes in the beginning to as little as 30 minutes at the end of the pregnancy depending on time constraints or medical needs. Most people will have one hour massages up until the end of their pregnancies if they are health without complications.
So what physical changes can prenatal work help with?
- reduce swelling in the joints as the pregnancy progresses by using lymph drainage techniques.
- soothe back pain as your spine changes shape through the trimesters
- release tight muscles in the hips and legs
- With my help show the co-parent the safest and most effective was to help mom with those little aches and pains
At the end of every session I walk as little as possible and offer any assistance needed. There are often those with questions in which case like with most session I leave time for those so you can leave with confidence.
Some people say you can induce birth through points on the body is that true? Ya it is possible but in order to do so you have to hold pressure on the spot for some time. I do not do that. I need deeper pressure to get ride of these tight muscles how hard can you push? I do not use deep pressure to release tissue on any client, I relax the tissue so I don't have to push hard. During pregnancy many people think its ok to use great pressure to release muscle and the truth is it’s more metal desire for pressure than the body actually wanting and accepting the increased pressure. How often should I come in? In general once every two weeks keeps you on top of changes in your body and allows me the chance to stay ahead of the coming changes before you feel pain.
So now a more intimate and personal confession about my time doing prenatal work…I feel compelled to share so people truly understand what this work means to me. I learned basic prenatal in massage school which was serval weeks of book reading and practicals (which is more than most in the industry). After leaving school I starting my own massage business and during that time I never had the need to use it. For a short time I worked in both a spa and running my own massage and bodywork business on the other side of town. There at the spa I got just a hand full of prenatal and postnatal clients. Only two of those clients ever disclosed to me in advance that they were pregnant. The spa had its own prenatal protocols of which I agreed with and followed carefully. The remainder of those clients did not disclose their pregnancies and were in their first trimester so they had not started to “show” which means that I could not have know. Those three clients stated later in later sessions (sometimes months later) miscarried. It was difficult to hear that word…miscarried…it destroyed my confidence even after I asked why they had not disclosed it at the time of there massages thou they had been told to left the staff know if they were before any appointments no matter what. Though the risk of a standard massage leading to possible miscarriage is very low it is also the most likely time of a miscarriage in a pregnancy. It took me two and a half years to ever work on another pregnant person again. Before I did to help restore my confidence and ensure my skills I did take another prenatal bodywork certification course. Sense then I have worked with many clients who are expecting on my own terms using my protocols and I have seen ladies throughout their pregnancies. An even greater feeling is being able to hold those children in my arms after they are born healthy and happy.
I hope that is posting has been helpful. This posting has taken a long time to write for many reasons but I wanted to be informative and meaning full for everyone who reads it.
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