Frequently Asked Questions
To better help my site visitors, here are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive.
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Nurturing the Mother (12)
My first pregnancy workshop was the year after graduating from massage school. I was enlisted to teach a pleasant pregnancy class at the local recreation center in South Lake Tahoe, CA. I was in my first trimester and was not feeling pleasant all. I shared what little massage techniques I thought might help the discomforts of pregnancy. For me at that time nausea and fatigue were my discomforts. When I did get massages from my dear friend Judy Ogden the nausea and fatigue were greatly reduced for 48 hours. I did feel the wonderful, soothing, and therapeutic aspects of massage throughout all three of my pregnancies.
After receiving massage during James’s pregnancy 30 years ago, I then became dear friends with a midwife, Kate, and started doing a lot of pregnancy massage, labor massage and postpartum massage. This is how Nurturing the Mother was developed through my own experiences and practice. It became a national certification in pregnancy massage, with postpartum and labor in 1990.
Nurturing the Mother has been training and certifying massage therapist since 1990 in pregnancy massage. For massage therapists, one of the best things is that we are required to have continuing education and there are so many wonderful things to study! It is also the opportunity to study things in greater detail. I think everyone who wants to concentrate on pregnancy and post partum massage benefits from taking a certification course where indications and contraindications specifically for pregnancy massage are discussed in detail along with positioning and techniques designed to alleviate some of the discomforts that can accompany pregnancy.
It is important to get out and meet the public in a variety of ways. I moved to Chapel Hill in 1988 and had to start all over again in building a practice. The Nurturing the Pregnant Couple Classes came from this need to reach out with my skills. I also include in that class, Pregnancy massage was simplified for the partner to perform, and included labor massage tips to teach the partner.
Networking with childbirth educators, midwives, obstetricians, nurse practitioners and lactation consultants like La Leche League is a good place to start. Baby and Maternity consignment stores is an excellent place as to put up brochures.
Pregnancy causes many changes in the mother’s body including a shift in her center of gravity causing increased lordosis and an exaggerated forward flexion of the head. Hormonal changes including relaxin can cause low back pain. Massage can help by addressing the areas of discomfort along with bringing overall relaxation.
In the first trimester, as long as there are no problems which contraindicate massage, such as spotting, previous miscarriage or fertility issues, massage can help alleviate nausea and fatigue that often accompanies early pregnancy. In the middle trimester, it helps deal with the expanding abdomen and change in alignment caused by carrying the baby. In the last trimester, massage helps deal with heartburn and discomfort in the hips and low back. Massage during early labor can help relax the mother and release tension in the hips. In the postpartum period, massage can help speed the return of the uterus to size, help bring the hips and ribs back into alignment and encourage the bowels to normalize.
Research backs up the claims as well. According to the Touch Research Institute in Miami who are forerunners in research on the effects of massage therapy from a study conducted in 2010:
“Women who received massage therapy reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain. Cortisol levels decreased and, in turn, excessive fetal activity decreased, and the rate of prematurity was lower in the massage group. In a study of labor pain, women who received massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and their labors were on average 3hr shorter with less need for medication. An underlying mechanism we have been exploring is that these effects are mediated by increased vagal activity.”
(Field, T. (2010). Pregnancy and labor massage therapy. Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5, 177-181. )
Being a supportive member of the team of people who encourage a woman throughout her pregnancy is a wonderful and rewarding experience. During this sometimes vulnerable time, it is very important to have a nurturing, comforting touch and a belief in the ability of women in the whole birth process.
The major difference in prenatal massage is in the positioning of the mother. By the second trimester, all massage should be done in a side-lying position to keep pressure off the vena cava. Also, much of the massage can be done with the mom lying on her left side to support venous return. This can be accomplished quite reasonably using a variety of pillows to support the body. If you plan to perform a lot of pregnancy massage, It is a good idea to invest in a bolstering system such as Oakworks Side Lying Positioning System is flexible and affordable. (http://www.massagetables.com/massage-accessories/side-lying-positioning-system.asp)
The massage in early pregnancy should be gentle and nurturing. Moderate pressure can be used during the second and third trimesters. There are several reflex points on the body, hands and feet which should always be avoided in pregnancy, such as the Ho-Ku point found in the webbing of the hand between the thumb and the index finger and the uterus point on the inside of the foot just below the medial malleolus.
Nurturing the Mother has brochures that are available for the graduates to use right from the start. The National website is also a great place to market yourself. The home office gets emails often for a referral in other parts of the country, daughters and friends of clients. Along with the networking, business cards, and brochures mentioned above, offering to present a short talk about pregnancy massage to a childbirth class, an OB/GYN practice or a Prenatal Yoga class can be helpful. Also consider sending a press release to your local paper when you get certified in pregnancy massage or write an article for your local newsletter or newspaper.
According to the statistics compiled by the 4th annual Massage Profession Research Report, AMTA's collection and analysis of current market data and trends that impact the massage therapy profession, though the economy has caused a decrease in the overall number of people getting massages, 70% of massage customers are women and there has been an increase in the number of massages in households earning less than $35,000 so the potential for pregnancy massage income is a good bet.
Postpartum or post natal massage is critical to the woman’s body coming back to a strong and balanced alignment. The stress of nursing and carrying an infant from 7lbs to 25 lbs in the first year takes a toll in the woman’s back, neck and shoulders. The massage in this period will focus on releasing and realigning the body.
In the immediate postpartum the principles of mother roasting are used to bring the chi back up through the application of heat, both internal and external. Students of Nurturing the Mother have reported back how much their client appreciates this support in this most powerful transition. The uterus kneaded back into its pre-pregnancy state is also used in the immediate period following birth.
Nurturing the Mother offers a body, mind, and spirit course that honors the wisdom of a woman’s body to do this hard work of getting a baby into this world.
The techniques are easy to perform, profoundly relaxing and therapeutic. The information in class is life changing. You will never view this event as anything but spiritual and an honor to work with your clients. The time honored practice of storytelling used by ancient healers exist with the wisdom of over 30 years of working with pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum. This work has organically grown form Claire Marie’s personal journey into motherhood. She has been nurtured into this wisdom by great teachers Kate Winningham, Jeannine Parvati, Elizabeth Noble, Suzanne Arms, Thomas Verney, DAVid Chamberlain, Michele Odent, Ina May Gaskin, Susan Weed and so many more from clients to students.
Nurturing the Mother has even had two births at the workshop. The students who went into labor in class, both delivered naturally and in less then 12 hours with their first babies. Pregnancy, and labor massage really do ease the labor time.
Claire Marie and her team of instructors hold small intimate classes where learning is nurtured in a safe and therapeutic environment.