It's never too early to start; it's never too late to get relief with prenatal massage.
The purpose of regular massage work during pregnancy is to stretch and relax overworked and shortened muscles that have tightened to protect the joints. The joints have lost their normal integrity due to a hormone called relaxin that allows the uterus to stretch, but relaxin also softens the tendons and ligaments. The hip/pelvic area is especially affected. Specific issues of low back pain, sore hips, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and cramping in the calves are individually addressed.
Another purpose of regular massage is to increase circulation; the baby benefits too from this increase. Massage also promotes a feeling of well being.
The goal of prenatal massage is to maximize comfort throughout pregnancy and to help maintain ease of movement in walking. Many women experience pain free mobility through full term and sleep well too.
Frequency of treatment
I recommend receiving prenatal massage work every two weeks for optimum comfort and mobility throughout your pregnancy. I often see mothers for the first time in their eighth or ninth month. Typically they are sore and achy, with low back pain and pain in their hips that makes walking difficult.
My experience with over 1,000 mothers has shown me the remarkable contrast between these late term mothers who have had no massage and those I see regularly from early on in their pregnancy. My regular clients are often pain free and move with ease through full term.
With the mother lying on her left side, right side, and on her back (with right hip and shoulder elevated), this massage is done in three positions--all with generous pillowing. Three positions requires ninety minutes.
Low back, hips, sciatica
Mothers who receive regular massage during their pregnancy experience a dramatic reduction of low back and hip pain/sciatica--pain caused by overworked muscles in the pelvic structure. The pelvic muscles respond to the increasing size of the uterus by getting tighter/shorter and staying that way to protect the hip and sacral joints.
I use range of motion (movement of the hips) to convey to the muscles that it is safe to relax. Specific work is done to soften muscles in the low back/hips that provides immediate and long term relief. Pelvic stabilization is a low back, stretching procedure that I use at the end of every prenatal massage. This unique stretch is the most important and effective procedure I use in my prenatal work. The end result is comfortable mobility, walking without pain through full term.
I add special neck treatment to my prenatal massage for any mother having headaches or stiff neck and tight shoulders. I massage the shoulders and gently stretch the muscles surrounding the neck to begin the session. The treatment is painless and very effective. Headaches usually disappear during the remainder of the massage.
Cramping in the calves
Many mothers are awakened by a cramp in the calf. For mothers who are experiencing this common problem, I begin their massage with stretching of the arch of the foot and lengthening of the calf muscles. Cramping often ceases with one treatment, but the procedure is usually repeated at each appointment for continued relief.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
The increased blood volume that accompanies every pregnancy can magnify symptoms of CTS. Soreness in the forearm and elbow will be specifically addressed. Some relief is possible, but my treatment is most effective after the baby is born, and blood volume returns to normal.
Many mothers return after giving birth to receive postpartum massage. You can now be face down. The focus shifts to your neck and shoulders. Whether nursing or bottle feeding, all moms look down most of the time, and neck and shoulders get sore and tired. I spend a good deal of time massaging the back as well. And I still finish the massage with pelvic stabilization to help rotate the pelvis to its pre-pregnant position.
Mothers often call two to three weeks postpartum. But anytime you feel the need for sore muscle relief is the right time to make an appointment.
"Your being there relieved my concerns and a lot of my stress." Winthrop C. Idle, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (not shown)
Every birth becomes a lifelong memory, and my overarching goal as a birth doula is to make that memory a very positive one.
Mothers in labor need both emotional and physical support. As an experienced, certified doula with a massage therapy background, I focus on physical support that provides vital pain relief during contractions. I use a non-medical approach that includes counter-pressure on the sacrum during contractions and hot packs on the low back between contractions. These support techniques provide such significant help that over 65% of the mothers I assist have completely natural births with no pain medication.
With a doula present, the mother's partner is free to focus on her emotional needs. The mother, with this circle of support, feels safe and fully supported and she can let go of fear. With a lowered level of fear and an elevated level of trust, the birth process is given a better chance to work as nature intended. And it usually does. Witness the following reductions associated with the continuous presence of a doula. (These were reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 265, No 17, May 1, 1991)
I have supported more than 160 couples in labor in delivery. Most have been in a hospital setting, but several were home births, where I feel equally comfortable.
You can learn much more about my doula services by scheduling an interview. We will talk about your birth wishes, practice sounding, rehearse the pushing stage, and review use of warm compresses--my most important labor tool.
Pricing averages $375 - $550, depending on actual labor.