Labor Initiation Massage. Is this even a thing? What is it? What is it not? Is it safe? Is it necessary? There is so much controversy over pregnancy massage.
The obvious answer to the last question is no, it’s not necessary. The beautiful thing about childbirth is that we are designed to birth babies! Babies come no matter what you do or don’t do. Sure, some decisions you make (like receiving a massage) can affect your experience and your babies experience but most conveniences in our world today are not necessary. However, that’s the beautiful thing, we really get to choose our experience and what a gift that is.
I mention the controversy because the more you google, research, and read; ultimately, it all lies in your belief. It’s important to be informed not only of your options, but that you actually get to choose your options. This seems like an appropriate time to mention that, I’m fully aware that it may not seem like you have options and some mothers truly have very limited options. But I encourage you to ask yourself, what do you want from your pregnancy, your childbirth, and your post partum care? What kind of experience do you expect for your babies grand entrance into the world?
You can read more about my thoughts on pregnancy massage here and here but for the purposes of this post, we will focus on massage during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. This is such a memorable time during pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, it’s the last few weeks your partnership is is a duo and the last few weeks life as you know it ceases to continue. This is also about the time Mom starts to get really uncomfortable. Sleeping becomes difficult as finding a comfortable sleeping position becomes next to impossible. There’s a good chance your ankles are swollen and because of the extra weight you’re carrying around, fatigue is your new constant. This is not everyone’s experience but it does seem to be a popular one.
The more I’ve studied natural birth, the more I’ve learned that the key to have an enjoyable birth experience, and consequently a natural birth, relaxation is key. That may seem like an oxymoron given our cultures representation of birth as required to be painful. I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be the worst thing you ever do. Birth is more about endurance than it is about pain and as long as you keep yourself in the state of relaxation, you’ll find yourself being able to endure your experience. Ever notice how you experience turbulence in an airplane (I’m writing this as I’m flying over Colorado) and it’s a little scary, you can handle it if you focus on your breath. That’s because your breath is promoting relaxation. It is no accident, les maze classes are about breathing. However, I wouldn’t recommend, those classes. I would recommend THESE and THESE. Having a doula or some sort of labor coach present is the best idea. When I had my son, if nothing else, my doula was there to remind me to relax, to breathe, and to experience what was happening instead of fighting it. The more you resist the experience, the more it becomes a challenge. When you “be with the experience,” you can see it for what it truly is.
Back to Labor Inducing Massage. Why do some call it induction massage? We are definitely not inducing any type of birth. However, I do approach a massage in those last few weeks with a different intention than I do pregnancy massage. Receiving massage throughout your pregnancy is crucial but if there’s ever a time to keep yourself in a relaxed state, these last few weeks of your pregnancy would be it. At any point in your life, when you receive massage therapy regularly, it promotes relaxation in your life overall. It’s like a muscle, when you work on it, it becomes stronger. When you focus on relaxation and self care you remain in a relaxed state in between your sessions.
Usually, moms come in during this time with a different focus as well. They are ready. They are kind of done being pregnant (that’s by design, you know?) they want to promote relaxation so the baby feels safe joining us earthside.
During pregnancy massage, we are focusing on relaxation but during induction massage, we are focusing on relaxation without anything hold us back. We can use a little more pressure and we can even work with acupressure points. During pregnancy massage, so much change is happening rapidly for Mama, she often wants a soothing massage. During the last few weeks of pregnancy, she’s looking for relief and the baby is mostly developed so the rapid change has slowed a bit.
As you can see, there’s a different approach to what I call labor initiating massage. I work with Mom to discover her needs and what she wishes to accomplish. I am also available for labor massage. I would be honored to join you in your sacred space as you embark on one journey you will never forget.