Pregnancy Massage is one of the oldest recorded healing arts, with most cultures having midwives who utilised massage through all stages of pregnancy. Investigation and research over the last two decades has helped popularise pregnancy massage as numerous studies show evidence that prenatal massage therapy is instrumental in improving pregnancy outcomes, fetal development and maternal health.
Types of Pregnancy Massage
THE womb cocoon
Whether you receive a Pregnancy Massage during the first, second or third trimester, the "Standard" option encompasses the New first timers and Returning clients who wish to incorporate massage into their pregnancy wellbeing plan.
The Womb Cocoon standard option includes a free 30 mins for the initial consultation for a magnesium rich footspa and consult with Suzie about your needs. Return clients receive a free 15 mins for a check-in about your needs on the day before each bodywork session. Whether you have an uncomplicated or high risk pregnancy, the experience is personalised depending on your needs on the day to help reduce pain, induce relaxation and help you experience a greater sense of connection with your growing babe.
Evidence indicates a decrease in anxiety, stress hormones and obstetrical complications in women who received regular massages during their pregnancies. Your baby benefits too by a reduction in cortisol, which can otherwise negatively affect fetal brain development and behaviours linked to Attention Deficit of hyperactivity and can result in lower birth weight.
Tip: You'll enjoy your pregnancy soooo much more!
BIRTH READY MASSAGE
The Birth Ready experience is designed to give you a sense of the Metamorphosis that is "Motherhood". This is your final massage, suitable from 38 weeks onwards or once you've finished work, which gets you fully integrated and embodied and ready to flow into your birth space.
The Birth Ready Metamorphosis is a similarly designed experience as the World to Womb experience, but without activating your body’s signals as per the Natural Induction methods.
Don’t come for this with a “To Do” list after you go home. This Birth Ready Massage is “The Last Thing” on that list. Once you leave here, you ideally want to float home for a long soak, a nourishing meal, perhaps watching a flick that brings you a good belly laugh to release the feel good endorphins of oxytocin naturally, some juicy kissing with your lover, some swaying to the moon to your birth playlist, and a good night’s sleep. No more excessive thinking; just “surrendering” and allowing yourself to sink into the natural rhythms in your home-space. Honouring rest. Slowing down the mind. Please, I encourage you to switch off the phone before you walk in. The outside world being no longer your concern for a brief window in your “one wild and precious life”.
Metaphorphosis: Biology: a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.
WOMB TO WORLD
NATURAL INDUCTION SUPPORT MASSAGE
Mother Earth’s often-requested Natural Induction Support Massage is quite a growing trend. The Womb to World experience involves natural measures of encouraging a baby to begin the spiral of life, which are much less invasive in comparison to the synthetic options offered which can result in hard and fast contractions. Natural induction massage is seen as a gentle but effective tool to help get things moving to bring your baby earth-side.
It involves burning Moxibustion over certain acupressure points, which are best avoided up until Week 39 weeks. Massaging these acupressure points with a blend including Clary Sage, shown to increase oxytocin levels, helps warm the points and supports the chi or energy to drop.
The Womb to World experience is a deeply relaxing and regenerating signature Kahuna-style massage which softens and opens you, layer by layer, shifting out any physical muscular and energetic blockages as well as mentally bringing you into a state of deep trust in your body’s innate wisdom. You are invited to enter into your birth space so your body, mind, spirit and soul feels connected to your babe and you feel ready to take the journey together.
wild womb way
It is a privilege to be asked into your birthing space and sensitivity and intuition play a huge role in giving you the type of massage you need in the moment.
A Wild Womb Way Massage in the comfort of your own home coming into, or during early labour eases muscular pain and the use of breathing and visualisation brings you fully into feeling empowered in your body. Generally, this is optimal when you are feeling barriers to coping with the birth sensations.
Birth massages are 2 hours duration at your home, preferably before or early into first stage of labour when you may be feeling your back ache with expansions, menstrual like cramps, lower abdominal pressure. Or perhaps you have difficulty staying consciously connected to your breath or feel things aren't moving along.
The experience can include smudging to protect you and the space, warm or cool compresses with salts, oils and herbs, pain relieving and birth-enhancing essential oils, and the use of a massage machine or tens machine where necessary.
Obviously this is a tricky option to ‘lock in’, but connect to discuss due dates with Suzie so she can time-frame her schedule around your due date. Ideally, around early labour commencement.
Image: One of my earliest and fave Homebirth clients Nikki Armour
home birth massage
spiral of life
A Breech Moxa Massage is designed to encourage breech babies to move into ideal birth position so they can begin the Spiral of Life with optimal chances at a natural birth. Breech means the bottom (Frank Breech), knees or feet are pointing down. The optimal birth position is head down with baby facing your spine, preferably left on left or right on right.
You’ll get a whiff of moxibustion (Mugwort and a compress of Chinese herbs) in combination with essential oils of Myrrh and Peppermint or Ginger. This combo of massage, acupressure and moxa warms, stimulates and tonifies the point. This is in combination with Suzie’s signature full body kahuna-style full body massage, with extra focus on the round ligaments and the sacrum, glutes, hips and SIJ (sacroiliac joints).
We start or end the session with the gentle sifting of a Rebozo which helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system where calm and trust abide. You will leave with the competency in using a Moxa stick at home, as well as a small blend of essential oils to support the process in the following days.
Suzie believes the mystery of why this works for some and not for others is still a mystery 11 years on. But it's worth a go! And you'll feel free of the worry you walked in with, that's guaranteed.
& A TIME TO TALK
Talking through your Birth Choices • Your Rights • Your Fears
A 1hr 15min Pregnancy Massage + 30 Minutes to sit with Suzie and talk through what's on your mind with your pregnancy.
THE PREGNANCY CUSHIONING SYSTEM
What is the pregnancy cushioning system
A blissfully comfortable and highly supportive body cushioning system allows face-down comfort and correct postural alignment. It is adjustable and therefore suitable, regardless of tummy size.
The cushion allows for greater postural alignment than is possible with side-lying. It is a far safer alternative to the tables with the hole, which might result in stretching of the abdominal and uterine ligaments due to the bigger belly’s hanging without support. Likewise if the establishment is just using towels to stack underneath you, or a pillow that is not adjustable to individual needs: skedaddle.
By contrast, the foam cushioning system provides a wonderful support and is perfectly safe. The cushioning system is not a one-size fits all. It is personally adjusted depending on your tummy height for each massage.
In fact, the beauty of lying on your tummy is that it provides a little more room than usual so your baby is able to have room for a good stretch so you might feel some gentle kicks.
Suzie spent a bomb importing the cushioning system from HERE in 2010 whilst pregnant herself, after getting tired of rolling from one sore hip to another during the night. She knows the system intimately, not just from personal use while pregnant, but by tailoring it to suit all different body types and sizes over the last ten + years. So if you feel uncomfortable or feel unwanted pressure, let Suzie know and she’ll adjust accordingly.
Alternatively she was trained in side-lying massage so this is an option if comfort is not optimal, but on average, there’s only been about one or two people a year who end up opting for side-lying. Either way, there’s plenty of time to get it right for you on the day so you have an optimal experience. So pleeeease, if it doesn’t feel right, say something~! It’s easily corrected.
Comments about being able to lie on your tummy include: "I feel weightless" and "blissful" and "I really don't want to get up, ever~!" Just read the reviews to see that everyone raves about it.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & FAQ'S
Is it safe to have a massage during pregnancy?
It’s understandable to worry about the baby’s safety during early pregnancy, so using my former journalistic brain I delved long and hard into the research on this pretty critical question and found there is no actual evidence of increased risk of miscarriage caused by pregnancy massage.
Is massage safe during the first trimester of pregnancy?
Good question! Trimester 1 massages are not something to be frightened of. It’s possible those who suggest to avoid pregnancy massage in the first trimester aren’t up to date with current research, are probably fearful of a lawsuit or perhaps do not have sufficient training to feel comfortable about which acupressure areas to avoid &/or their skills in managing draping/cushioning. Having said that, if you have a history of miscarriages: wait. Just book yourself in now for 13 weeks or thereafter and go run yourself an Epsom and magnesium rich soak instead. For peace of mind more than anything.
Likewise, if you’re suffering severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum), you’ll most likely want to wait past the first two months or so until this passes. Not because it’s unsafe, but because you feel so violently ill and your muscles feel so weak already, it’s doubtful massage would be a pleasant experience, if you’re in the throws of it, excuse the pun.
In the interim, a medical certificate advocating REST away from the work-desk is the best remedy and listen to this Evidence Based Birth podcast HERE. Plus you could try nature’s offering by diffusing an organic Peppermint essential oil or make up a blend and roll along your sternum and wrists for relief. A 2012 study HERE shows it may be helpful to incorporate acupuncture to help reduce nausea.
For everybody else, please rest assured: Pregnancy Massage is considered both safe and beneficial for you and your baby during any stage of pregnancy. In fact, pregnancy massage is one of the oldest recorded healing arts. Despite it being safe, it is advisable to seek a therapist who has a Certificate in Pregnancy Massage from a specialised trainer, as there’s a handful of acupressure points that should be avoided, unless you’re looking to help bring baby along.
Precautions do not exclude you, but should be taken by the therapist making considerations for -
severe swelling (pitted oedema)
blood clots in the lower legs or DVT
consistently/unmanaged high blood pressure
or have pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH)
While some swelling is normal in the feet, ankles and hands, pitted oedema can indicate severe pre-eclampsia or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and massage could therefore place strain on the kidneys detoxification process, leaving you feeling unwell. Suzie therefore uses a lymphatic massage style using supportive essential oils to clear the lymphatic system and alleviate the physically unpleasant side-effects of swelling.
You can self-test for pitted oedema or severe swelling simply by pressing on the swelling for up to 20 seconds and if it leaves an indent, you should seek medical clearance of pre-eclampsia from your doula, doctor, midwife or obstetrician and make mention of this in the “notes” when you book your massage.
Twins are welcome to join Mumma to be for a Mother Earth Massage~! The cushioning system is height-adjustable to your needs on the day.
Likewise, if you have any of the other above conditions, it’s best to chat to your care provider first or give Suzie a buzz to discuss.
Decisions, Decisions: Qualifications Count
It seems like everywhere offers pregnancy massage now. When it comes to finding someone you trust, or if in doubt before booking your massage, ring and ask the establishment “is the therapist adequately trained?” Adequately, in my mind, means a 2 day minimum specialty pregnancy massage course.
With 11 years experience, Suzie has both the 2-day (in-person) Certificate of Pregnancy Massage (2010) and 4-day (in-person) high risk certification Practitioner of Pregnancy Massage (2015) received with Pregnancy Massage Australia HERE. This is in addition to qualifications in relaxation, sports at AIAS (2010) and remedial massage at Q Academy (2015).
What to expect when you’re expecting a Mother Earth Massage?
At Mother Earth Massage, our core focus has always been supporting pregnant and postnatal women (and their partners). Our spa’s philosophy is personal connection and helping you cope with stress, pain relief and managing those unpleasant symptoms during each trimester along the way.
Lads if you’re a Papa-Bear to-be and reading this in search of something to help your partner because you’re both finding there’s a strain on the relationship during pregnancy or after bub arrives as a result of this life-changing right of passage, for both of you, look no further than a Gift Voucher. Please understand this journey into parenthood means I often hear "I don't feel like I even know myself lately". And that’s where taking time out to re-connect and feel nurtured can help because Suzie will tailor the massage to support that reconnection with self and therefore that positive ripple effect flows on to others.
Mamas to be if you’re reading this and identifying with this feeling of overwhelm or suffering from pain that keeps you awake at night or makes it hard to focus at work, it’s time to book yourself in for some magical time-to-self. Don’t wait for permission. Self care is priority number one. No excuses needed. Soak it up. After bub comes, life is never “all about you” again, well not for a very long time.
On your initial consultation your full history is discussed during your FREE 30 mins footspa and consult, and if necessary, specific clearance tests help determine the type of bodywork you should receive. If you have any concerns, please feel free to give Suzie a ring before you book an appointment.
Why should I have a massage when I am pregnant?
Our primal experiences mark us for life. "Our moods, attitudes, relationship styles, our reactions under stress, even the functioning of our immune systems bear the imprint of how we were ushered into life," Robin Grille, the highly respected psychologist, psychotherapist and author says.
Evidence indicates a decrease in anxiety, stress hormones and obstetrical complications in women who received regular massages during their pregnancies. Your baby benefits too by a reduction in cortisol, which can otherwise negatively affect fetal brain development and behaviour. If stress is high during the antenatal period, it increases your baby’s risk of attention deficit or hyperactivity, anxiety, and language delay. Research HERE
Mother Earth Massages provides a uniquely supportive and nurturing space to connect with your growing baby and enhance your capacity for attachment. Sometimes life is so busy that it seems impossible to find time to connect with your tummy. You’ll know this if you have another child already whereby you land on my doorstep at 36 weeks saying “I haven’t stopped since I saw you last pregnancy”. In recent years, more and more women are prioritising continued physical and emotional support post-birth and during the parenting journey.
Other research or evidence-based benefits of pregnancy massage include
Sooth and relieve pain to the lower back, pelvic and uterine ligaments, which may occur due to the muscle imbalance caused as the uterus expands, ligaments stretch and the centre of gravity shifts
Reduce stress, which can result in premature labour due to production of corticotrophin releasing hormones (CRH). Stress can further result in low birth weight which correlates with high blood pressure in mothers, long term infant behavioural problems, and cognitive and neuromotor developmental delays
Reduce the risks of pre-eclampsia and other hypertensive disorders, which may be a consequence of increased blood pressure due to stress
Feel greater suppleness and relief from muscle stiffness and soreness, which may result from retained interstitial fluid
Feel a greater mind-body-baby connection through guided visualisations and affirmations
Discuss the latest research on healthy pregnancy, birth and attachment
Bring nutrients to the tissues and eliminate waste products, which may counteract oedema as a result of slower blood flow to the lower extremities
Pregnancy Massage may incorporate by choice and where appropriate
Acupressure (safe points), Induction (to specific points), Moxibustion (Chinese herb), Reflexology (safe points) and Aromatherapy (safe Australian certified organic essential oils)
Mother Earth Massage uses the highest possible quality carrier oils which are certified organic &/or cold pressed. You can choose between Almond (winter), Coconut (summer) or Sesame (postnatal) Oils. Express any sensitivities or preferences on the day.
Cold pressed Almond Oil is hypoallergenic and high in Vitamin E, Zinc, Potassium and monounsaturated fatty acids. It is deeply nourishing and moisturising to the skin.
I feel weightless
I really don't want
to get up...