Prenatal Massage (St Johns, Portland)
It is well known that few experiences in life give such a plethora of blessings and challenges as childbearing does. As special and intimate as the experience of pregnancy can be, it can also be very demanding and wearing to the body and mind. One of the ways for expectant and new mothers to find relief can be through receiving massage by a licensed therapist. As a massage therapist, performing prenatal massage is the most meaningful and rewarding aspects of my work. It gives me the opportunity to provide a safe space for moms to be nurtured physically and emotionally, and to allow them an opportunity to deeply release the heavy stress they may be carrying. And fortunately, the benefits of prenatal massage extend far beyond our 60- to 90-minute session. For one, massage provides lasting improvements to the endocrine system by regulating hormones and reducing cortisol levels, helping to lift anxiety and depression. It improves cardiovascular function and reduces swelling by gently easing lymphatic fluids back into circulation; it helps greatly in alleviating muscle and joint pain (which includes issues such as sciatica), and – through the body’s entry into a relaxed nervous system state – it enables the all-important vagus nerve to come online, bringing balance to the digestive system and more. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as clinical studies have shown numerous benefits of massage for pregnant women as well as for their babies. If you’re interested is piqued, take a look at one of these studies here – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2870995.
The only thing I can think of that is more special and more of an honor to be doing than prenatal massage is Lomi Hapai: sacred Hawaiian massage for pregnant women. This ancient Hawaiian art is rooted in the knowledge of the intimate connection of all life and the intrinsic healing power of the one’s own body. Through this practice, we are reminded of who we truly are, in the deepest and most humbling way. We are given a space to awaken to our wholeness, which is quite a powerful thing to do during pregnancy. Our intention as practitioners is to imbue your body, your heart, and your baby with physical well being, emotional balance and spiritual renewal. Using long, rhythmic and wave-like strokes, this massage is designed to foster a sense of unity within a mother – with herself and with her new child. Firm pressure is used where needed to provide pain relief, as well as gentle stretching of the shoulders, neck, ankles and other joints, as is medically appropriate. To protect your baby and your body, the majority of the massage is spend in a side-lying position, using extra pillows and bolsters for comfort and support. This position provides a wonderful way to access neck, shoulder, back and hip muscles that are posturally stressed do to the musculoskeletal demands of pregnancy upon a body.
Lomi Hapai is also a beautiful way to help the body to recover recover after childbirth, and can be an excellent way to reduce postpartum depression, should you experience this. Don’t forget to ask us for resources about infant massage for your new little one! This fun and meaningful practice of touch has been proven to have so many physiological and physical health benefits for babies.