Preparing your body for childbirth and beyond
Every pregnancy is unique, the mother’s body is continually evolving and along with the physical changes that she will experience there may well be some psychological changes as well. Pregnancy can also mean changes amongst hormones and this can bring up emotions such as anxiety, nervousness and fear.
The benefits of massage in pregnancy
The benefits aren’t all anecdotal, research by the Touch Research Institute in Miami has shown that massage helps reduce pain in pregnancy and can alleviate pre-natal depression in both parents and can help improve their relationship. The institute has also found massage can help reduce the risk of premature birth and may help decrease the risk of complications during labour. Studies indicate that receiving regular complementary and holistic therapies, such as massage and reflexology, during pregnancy can help to reduce anxiety, relieve muscle aches and joint pains.
What does pregnancy massage do?
Massage is a holistic therapy which focuses on a physical and psychological level, thus helping to create natural balance within the body.
Pregnancy massage may help with the following:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Oedema and swelling (such as legs, ankles and hands)
- Reduce constipation and ease digestion.
- Sleeping issues (such as tiredness, restlessness and insomnia)
- Backache, backpain, muscle aches
- Joint Stiffness
- Hip or pelvic pain (such as PGP and SPD)
- Blocked sinuses (a common complaint during pregnancy)
- Increasing circulation and improves skin elasticity which reduces stretch marks
- Reduces stress and anxiety which will help to stabilise hormone levels
- Preparing your body for childbirth
What are the benefits of Pregnancy Massage for the baby?
Pregnancy Massage may help to:
- Stimulation of the mother’s blood flow. This in turn increases the oxygen and nutrient content in her blood, which results in better and increased nourishment to the child.
- Stimulates the lymphatic drainage system. This is the system that is vital in the disposal of toxins from the mother’s body.
How can Pregnancy Massage help me?
The pregnancy clients that I have seen have said they have felt rejuvenated and have noticed improvements to the circulation system, this can help reduce oedema and ease leg cramps and restless legs.
Some have also noticed that it has helped the regulation of the digestive system, promoted relief from sciatica and gave pain relief in areas such as the pelvis and lower back.
Most of my pregnancy clients have noticed improved sleep and fewer headaches. On a more psychological level they have noticed a reduction in stress and anxiety.
Massage helps release feel good hormones such as endorphins and stress hormones can be more regulated (cortisol and norepinephrine). I have had pregnancy clients who have reported relief from discomfort boosted energy and an improved sense of well-being.
What happens during a Pregnancy Massage?
When you come for your appointment your needs and preferences will be taken into consideration. You will be supported with pillows in a side lying position on the couch (this is electrically adjustable for your comfort) you will then be draped with sheets. Only the body part that is being worked will be exposed. As a trained prenatal therapist, great care is taken with comfort and positioning when offering a pregnancy massage. To get the most out of your session I do suggest avoiding eating a large meal before your massage or drinking large amounts of liquids.
Is Pregnancy Massage suitable for everyone?
Complementary therapies complement the skilled work of the midwife, it is advisable that you inform your GP and midwife before booking a treatment.
Total contraindications to massage in pregnancy (in these circumstances massage is unfortunately, not suitable). This is for the safety of yourself and your baby.
- Placental abruption (where the placenta slightly detaches from the wall of the uterus)
- Threatened miscarriage
- Blood clot or phlebitis
- Active uterine bleeding
- Hydroamnios – if there is too much amniotic fluid around the baby after 32 weeks gestation
- Oligohydramnios – there is an insufficient amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby
- HIV and AIDS.
- Bleeding or heavy discharge
- Fever, diarrhoea (when you are clear of these after 48 hours you may then be suitable for massage)
Important Information about Pregnancy Massage
Massage may be suitable if your midwife, GP or other primary healthcare professional gives their approval and consent.
I will need to receive the written confirmation before or at your appointment. If you do not have this at the appointment you will not be able to be given a massage and will be required to pay for your appointment. This is for the safety of you and your baby.
- Diabetes and gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure or chronic hypertension
- Your pregnancy is classed as “high-risk pregnancy”. In this circumstance massage is not recommended unless your primary healthcare provider (midwife, GP or consultant) gives their explicit written consent.
- Pre-eclampsia – a condition characterized by swelling of the face, hands, and feet, elevated blood pressure, excessive fluid retention, and protein in the urine. It is sometimes accompanied by severe headaches or migraines with or without optical “floaters.” If pre-eclampsia is suspected or confirmed, all massage must be avoided until your blood pressure stabilises and your care provider affirms that you and your baby are out of danger.
Providing Medical Information
Upon booking your appointment, you will be asked to complete a medical questionnaire during the booking process. Please complete this as soon as possible. If you have not done this within 36 hours of your appointment and I am unable to perform massage, then you will result in cancellation charges. It sometimes maybe necessary to seek medical advice from your midwife, specialist or GP before having a Pregnancy Massage to ensure there is no reason for massage not to go ahead. Generally these are, but not limited to, the medical contraindications listed above.
In my pregnancy massages, I use Neals Yard Remedies Mothers Massage Oil.
60 minutes required for first appointment.
30 minutes – £30
60 minutes – £50
90 minutes (combined massage and facial) – £75
Maternity Reflexology – Coming soon
Helping you through pregnancy
Here are my tips to help you through Pregnancy. Apologies if some of these are obvious but you would be amazed as to how many people are unaware of these simple tips that can potentially make your pregnancy a little easier!
You may find yourself visiting the toilet more often, this is due to the fact of the baby resting on the bladder. We weren’t designed to go to the toilet sitting down, we were designed to squat. So to encourage the bladder to empty fully why not next time you think you have finished on the toilet, then lean forward and you will be surprised at what might happen. Please note that this can be done whether pregnant or not, also don’t lean too far forward that you might tip over!
If you are suffering from dry and itchy skin then try not to have too warm baths and showers and try reducing them in time too. Use some muslin over your hand to grab a handful of oats (plain garden oats) tie with an elastic band and squeeze out the creaminess, use this creaminess in the bath along with a 15mls of milk or cream to create a moisturising bath. You can then use the left-over oats in the muslin to gently massage your beautiful bump along with any other areas of the body.
If you are fan of using essential oils remember to stop using any that contain; aniseed, arnica, cedarwood, clove, cedarwood, cinnamon leaf, hyssop, juniper berry, marjoram, myrrh, peppermint, rose, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Rosehip oil is said to be the best oil for stretchmarks. I sell this so please do ask me about the best way to use this on yourself. Combine with Wheatgerm Oil (providing no wheat, coeliac, gluten intolerances or allergies are present) if you have dry older skin and are in the later stages of pregnancy when the skin is stretched more. Wheatgerm oil is also really good for itchy skin. However, I would recommend using something formulated specifically for stretchmarks. I highly recommend Neal’s Yard Remedies Mother’s Balm. Pre-order your Neal’s Yard Remedies Mothers Balm to pick up at your appointment for just £18, usual price £20 + delivery.
When considering labour and birth, one of the biggest fears for women (other than the pain!) is the potential tearing of their perineum that may result in stitching extended recovery time after giving birth. You can take steps to protect your perineum from tearing. Studies show that perineal massage reduces your chance of tearing during birth. Just rub sunflower, olive oil, vitamin E oil or coconut oil into the skin between your vagina and anus once or twice a day, starting from around 34 weeks onwards. I highly recommend Neal’s Yard Remedies solid Coconut oil, this is available for £8 when booked with a pregnancy massage (usually £9 + delivery)
Postnatal, Postpartum : The fourth trimester
This period is characterised as the first 12 weeks of your baby’s life.
During this time, you are in a process of healing following birth and your baby is adjusting the world outside of your womb. It can be a daunting and stressful time for everyone involved. There are pressures surrounding this period to look good, feel good, baby should be doing this, baby should be doing that, often we expect them to happen at a pace that is reasonably expected. These pressures added to life adjustments such as hormonal changes and sleep deprivation so it is unsurprising that new Mums sometimes struggle at this time.
Physical and Emotional Adjustment
The physical upset that giving birth (whether vaginally or otherwise) and pregnancy has on our bodies as women can be huge no matter how much someone tells you it is the most natural thing in the world! In the last 12 weeks before birth oestrogen levels peak, and these then drop in the immediate 2 days post birth and if you’re breast feeding this can mean these levels remain low. This low plateau of oestrogen can be linked to insomnia, an increase in fatigue as well have links with anxiety and depression. Hormonal levels and fluctuations can also be linked with “new born blues”, emotional swings (including crying, feeling low etc). I would always suggest mentioning these to your post birth team, if you do experience any of these emotional changes.
Carrying a baby around for 9 months internally and the externally for potentially the same duration can put added strains on your body. I always recommend to my pregnancy clients to have regular sessions once baby is here, to help accelerate the body’s natural healing process. Also taking time out for yourself with benefit you all at this precious time.
There have been links with postnatal massage and the following:
- Can support emotional and mental health
- Can support and encourage improved hormone regulation
- Can encourage the reduction of swelling
- Encouraging improved sleep patterns
- Can encourage improved breastfeeding
How soon after giving birth can I have a massage?
You can have a massage 2 weeks post birth (vaginally).
If you have had a caesarean, then please do contact me and we can discuss when would be most suited for you to come for a massage. I specifically trained in C-section recovery in terms of working around the scar, to help reduce scarring and any reduced mobility that they may be experienced from the trauma of this procedure. I can show you self-help techniques to help with the wound, it’s healing process and long-term advice to help prevent complications.
In my postpartum massages, I use Neals Yard Remedies Mothers Massage Oil.
30 minutes – £25
60 minutes – £45
45 minutes – £35 (C-section scar recovery work)
Postnatal Reflexology – Coming soon
As your child grows
Baby Massage & Positive Touch for children
Touch is the first sense that a baby develops within the womb. At just 8 weeks old a baby will withdraw from the touch of a probe. It is also the first sense between mother and baby that is first truly felt by both.
In the third trimester the mother can feel, and sometimes see, the baby’s limbs moving. It is then that the baby will also start to distinguish between light and dark, it is often then at this point that the mother will begin to massage her pregnant belly, sing to her belly or even play some soft gentle music. It is at this point that the foetus will begin to react. Even expectant mothers who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the thought of having a massage and even massaging themselves I am almost certain at some point will have found themselves rubbing their pregnant belly in a comforting way. I have had many expectant mothers say to me that their baby is “particularly active” however by rubbing their pregnant belly it calms them down. This is the baby responding to the mother’s touch.
Touch is the first sense
Touch is the first way of an unborn baby and its parents begin to bond, whether this is through the baby moving, the expectant mother using a comforting and nurturing technique to calm her active unborn child or even, purposeful massage or even the dad-to-be feeling the apple of his eye kick for the first time. When a baby is first born, touch is the first sense to truly develop. A baby will continue to develop and gather information about his surroundings, although most babies can see when first born they have not yet developed adequate focusing skills. Likewise, a baby will not be able to differentiate between different sounds. This leaving touch as the first real sense to develop.
Have you ever thought about why an older baby will put new or unfamiliar items in its mouth? It isn’t interested in the taste of the new toy, it is trying to get a “feel” for the object. Within the mouth and tongue lie thousands of sensory neurons, these mean the baby can quickly, and without too much logic, be able to gather information about the new object as it has a high concentration of sensory neurons within a small area. Touch is the first sense to develop, skin on skin. Imagine the sensory stimulation that a baby will feel in the few moments after its born, the outside world is suddenly much louder, colder and brighter than that of the previous 9 months spent curled up in the womb. Suddenly this new born baby is in unfamiliar territory and away from the predictability and warmth of the mother’s womb.
Touch at first breath
A new born bay is as soon as possible laid on its mother chest after its birth. The skin on a mother’s chest in the immediate moments after giving birth is known to be a degree or two higher in order to accommodate the baby. If the baby is too cool, then the mothers body will warm them up and if the baby is too warm likewise it will cool them down. Not only being placed on the mothers chest after birth will the baby’s temperature be regulated, the heart rate and also breathing will be regulated by the mother too.
Special care baby units are recognising the importance of touch. Even if a baby has to spend its first few days in an incubator, parents are encouraged to place their sterilised hand inside the incubator in order to touch their baby. A parent can then develop the bond with the baby even if the baby is not strong enough to be held by its parents.
Promoting positive touch
Positive touch for children is conducted as peer to peer and most often done in classroom environment, to promote positive touch, respect and also to help reduce bullying. Small classes are available in Barns Green as an after school activity and are designed to help build confidence. Please note that I do not touch the children but will demonstrate on another adult. This is suitable for positive touch only and not performed in a way of easing aches pains etc. This is a 5 week course. I am trained by the Massage in Schools Association and hold a current DBS check.
Baby Massage Course
Baby Massage is run as a 5 or 6 week course. On a 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 basis from my therapy room in Barns Green.
Baby Massage is when a parent or care giver lovingly strokes or holds their baby. Soothing holds and rhythmic strokes are given on each area of the baby’s body, following a sequence which has been developed over many years. The massage offers a wonderful experience and a special time to communicate with babies so that they feel loved and respected.
The class is baby led and incorporates techniques from Indian and Swedish massage traditions as well as incorporating principles from yoga and reflexology. You will learn massage strokes for legs, feet, stomach, chest, arms, hands face and back, a short colic routine, gentle movement and touch relaxation.
I am trained by the IAIM (International Association of Infant Massage) and I hold a current DBS check.
Coming soon Baby Reflexology.
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Based in West Sussex serving women in Horsham, Crawley, Southwater, Billingshurst, Wisborough Green, Pulborough, Slinfold, Loxwood, Warnham, Broadbridge Heath.