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7 Secrets For A Comfortable Pregnancy and Labour

It’s really no secret that pregnancy can be difficult at times. Aside from the morning sickness (or any time of day sickness), aches and pain, swollen feet and insomnia seem to be part and parcel of growing a tiny human from scratch.
But that doesn’t mean you need to struggle through it.

I speak to a lot of mums and couples that are anxious about labour and childbirth. I have discovered that it doesn’t matter if it’s your first pregnancy or your second or third, anxiety and apprehension can still exist.

In my latest blog post, I delve into the secrets to make pregnancy and birth a better experience, pooling together all the conversations I have had with my clients so far.

 

  1. Regular Massage (before baby comes along)

A no brainer for me, the pregnancy massage specialist. Massage during pregnancy can help reduce back and joint pain, improve circulation and blood supply for your baby, and improve sleep. But did you know that massage also reduces stress and anxiety, as it soothes the nervous system and boosts mood. Pregnancy massage is a specialized treatment that uses techniques specific to the common musculoskeletal issues that are unique to pregnancy, while also promoting relaxation and enhancing the mother-baby connection. Learn more about pregnancy massage here.

  1. Nutrition

During pregnancy proper nutrition is important. I often treat mums who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I always recommend my clients seek support from a dietitian or nutritionist if they need help during their pregnancy.  When it comes to Labour, remember its long-game. Plan and ensure that you are fueling your body with nourishing food that will go the distance. Small regular snacks can help.

  1. Pea-sized Bladder

One thing I ask my clients before their massage is if they need to go to the bathroom before we start the treatment. During pregnancy you will go to the toilet – frequently. Afterall, you do have a tiny human using your bladder as a pillow, so there’s no wonder why you have the urge to pee every 5 minutes (or less).

  1. Get More Sleep

Pregnant women are tired. Why? Well, it takes a lot of energy to create a whole new person. It’s exhausting work. Massage during pregnancy can help to improve sleep patterns. Often my clients tell me that slept well the night of their massage. During the early stages of labour It may seem like an impossible task – but try to sleep. As we are mammals, we tend to natural labour at night, when it is safest. Try to rest as much as you can. This will help to build you energy reserves as labour can last forever!

  1. Do a Poo before you bear down

Bearing down and pushing a baby from your vagina mimics the actions required to do a poo. And women can poo during birth. Simple as that. But not to worry, the doctors and nurses will ensure that your baby is not covered in poo, and the clean-up will be swift and quick. It will mean however that another boundary between you and your partner will be crossed. But hey, at the end of the day you will have a baby and what is better than that?

  1. Hang out in Down Dog

Gentle exercise during pregnancy can help support your body as it changes. Relaxing in the lead up to labour will do wonders once contractions start. Most pre-natal yoga classes focus on breathwork, as well as movement and stretching. You can use these techniques in the birth suite to help you feel comfortable and relaxed.

  1. Labour Massage

Having partner confident if giving massage can help mum to feel more relaxed, with reduced feelings of anxiety and apprehension about the birth. Physical touch can boost oxytocin, a must for labour, and massage can bring couples closer together. Massage at home and then recommencing at hospital can help to stabilize contractions, which often stall during travel from home to hospital (or other birth place). Plus, massage gives your partner a role during labour and helps them to become involved in the birth. Learn more about partner massage here.

 

If you would like more information about our services contact us or book your next appointment now!

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Is Your Fanny My Business?

You Want Me To Massage My What….?

Yep, you read correctly… this post is a bit intimate and personal, but nevertheless extremely important for women, especially first-time mums.

There has been a great deal of research to demonstrate the benefits antenatal perineal massage.

A recent study by Ugwu et al. (2018) found that antenatal perineal massage reduced the need for episiotomy and ensured that the perineum remained intact after delivery as well as implications for reduced post-natal incontinence. Shahoei et al (2017) found that when the perineum was massaged during the second stage of labour the need for episiotomy was reduced in addition to injury and pain.

And while perineal massage is not something that a massage therapist will perform on a client, it is something that you can do, within the privacy of your own home, alone or with your partners help.

 

So, What is Perineal Massage?

Perineal massage helps to increase the stretchiness and flexibility of the perineum by stretching the skin of the birth outlet and helping you to prepare you for the sensations of tingling, burning or stinging as your baby’s head is born.  The massage can be performed by you or your partner to stretch the perineum by rubbing the area with fingers or thumbs. It may reduce your risk of having a tear or needing an episiotomy post-partum.

 

And Where is the Perineum?

The perineum is the area of skin between the vagina and the anus. During a vaginal childbirth, this area stretches to allow your baby to be born. Particularly with your first birth, this area gets stretched as the head is being born and may tear a little as the head comes out. Performing perineal massage on yourself towards the end of your pregnancy can help prevent this from happening.

Studies have shown that perineal massage can reduce tearing at birth for women having their first baby, ensure you are more comfortable and recover more quickly following the birth, help you enhance the bond with your baby better and are able to care for them more easily.

 

When should I not perform perineal massage?

Perineal massage should not be performed:

  • Before 34 weeks of pregnancy
  • If you have a low lying placenta (placenta praevia)
  • If you have genital herpes, thrush or other vaginal infection, which may spread to other areas
  • If you or your partner has an open wound or infection on the hands or fingers

 

When should I start?

It is recommended that perineal massage starts between 34-35 weeks of your pregnancy. It can be done once a day. Initially you may experience a strong stretching or burning sensation but over time you may start to notice a change in the flexibility and stretchiness of the skin and these feelings should decrease.

 

Getting Started

Before starting perineal massage, you should:

  • Empty your bladder
  • Wash your hands
  • Find a relaxing place to perform perineal massage, such as your bathroom, bedroom or anywhere else you feel comfortable.
  • Sit or lean back. It may help to prop your hips comfortably with a pillow
  • A warm bath or warm compress on the perineum for 10 minutes before may help with relaxation
  • Using a mirror for the first few times will help you to become familiar with the area you are massaging
  • You can do the massage yourself, but you may find it easier for your partner to do it
  • Use lubrication– this can be olive, wheat germ or almond oil or vitamin e cream

 

 

How to perform the perineal massage

  • Put the lubricant on your thumbs and around the perineum
  • Place your thumbs just inside the vagina, about 3-4 cm in depth
  • Press downward and to the sides at the same time, stretching your vagina open as wide as possible until you feel a tingling or burning sensation. Pause and take a deep breath
  • Keeping a steady pressure move your thumbs from side to side in a ‘u’ shaped motion. The area may become a little numb and you won’t feel the tingling as much
  • Hold the stretch for 45-60 seconds and then release
  • Massage with more oil and stretch again to maximum hold then release. Do this daily for about 5– 10 minutes

 

At first your perineum will feel tight but as you practice the tissues will relax and stretch. Focus on relaxed breathing, relaxing the pelvic floor muscles and allowing the tissues to stretch.

 

If your partner is helping you do perineal massage – ensure they use clean hands and either their thumbs or one to two index fingers inside the lower part of the vagina. It is important to tell your partner how much pressure to apply without causing too much discomfort or pain.

 

Resources:

Ugwu EO, Iferikigwe ES, Obi SN, Eleje G, Ozumba BC, 2018. Effectiveness of antenatal perineal massage in reducing perineal trauma and post-partum morbidities: A randomized controlled trial. The journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research.

Shahoei R, Zaheri F, Nasab LH, Ranaei F 2017. The effect of perineal massage during the second stage of birth on nulliparous women perineal: A randomization clinical trial. Electronic Physician.

 

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The 3 Reasons Why Pregnancy Is A Pain In The BUTT

… And What You Can Do About It NOW!

 

It’s no secret that pregnancy can be painful. In fact, I’ve written about it before (in this blog on the 3 Ways to Beat Pregnancy Pain).

A lot of my clients tell me that their doctors aren’t too helpful in helping them understand their pain, which why I have compiled this list of the 3 main causes of hip/back and glute pain in pregnancy and most importantly how massage during pregnancy can help you reduce pain, feel freer and more engergised!

 

Pelvic Girdle Pain (AKA: Pelvic Girdle instability)

 

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a condition can affect 20% of women during pregnancy. PGP can occur due to changes in ligaments because of the hormone relaxin, which increases joint laxity.

Every day activities such as walking or standing can aggravate and cause strain within the joint. Pain may not be felt until several hours later. In some cases, pain can be constant.

PGP can be managed by avoid aggravating activities, such as lifting and weight bearing activities.  Strengthening exercise that support the abdominals, pelvic floor and lower back can also be beneficial.

Massage can also help alleviate the symptoms of PGP through releasing tight muscles and ligaments in the glutes, hips and lower back.

 

Round Ligament Pain

Several ligaments support the uterus as the foetus grows. One of these ligaments is called the round ligament. The role of the round ligament is to keep the uterus in a forward titled position.

As the round ligament stretches due to foetal growth pain can be felts from the top of the uterus to the groin and can even extend to the vulvar and upper thigh.

Depending on foetal positioning pain can be felt on one side, or both sides.

Massaging the abdomen can help to alleviate round ligament pain by assisting in maintaining uterine positioning and stabilising the lower back.

 

Sciatic Pain

Sciatica is the name given to a series of symptoms, not a specific problem. The sciatic nerve runs down the lower back, through the glutes and innervates the lower leg and feet.

A slipped or injured disc can be the primary cause of sciatica, but sometimes, the functioning of the nerve can be affected, causing pins and needles or pain down the back of your leg.

In some cases, tight gluteal muscles can mimic the pain symptoms of sciatica. Massage can assist in releasing tight glute muscles and provide support to balance the lower back.

 

The next step…

Just because pain during pregnancy is common does not mean that you must put up with it. Understanding the cause of pain can help in alleviating the symptoms so that you can have a happy and healthy pregnancy.

 

Struggling with Pregnancy Aches? Book a Massage now!

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Labour and Birth Partners – What He Can ACTUALLY DO In The Delivery Room

Labour and Birth Partners – What He Can ACTUALLY DO In The Delivery Room. (It’s ok fellas, no gory pictures or scary stuff here!)

 

Each pregnancy, labour, birth and child is unique and different. One similarity I have noticed is that almost every mum-to-be that I have treated tells me is that their birth partner feels overwhelmed, lost or confused as to how to provide appropriate support and care during pregnancy and often do not want to think about labour and childbirth.

And if the birth partner is feeling overwhelmed, this can only mean that mum is feeling isolated and unsupported as well.

I pose the following question to ALL Birth Partners – For The Husbands, Wives, Boyfriends and Girlfriends:

How Will You Cope Seeing Your Loved One In Pain?

This is such an important question that I pose to all birth partners. A lot of birth partners may not have even thought about the labour and child birth process. Blinkers on. Ignorance is bliss. But, this is going to happen. Waters will break. Labour will start. And you loved one will experience an exquisite surge of pain as the contractions start. The birth partner will feel lost – UNLESS they are prepared to deal with this situation.

 

So, What Can You Do?

Partner Massage is a great way for couples to feel connected and empowered during pregnancy and it is a vital part of managing the stages of labour.

Massage during the first stage of labour provides birth partners with the ability to support the laboring women to cope with contractions. I call these massage techniques “Contraction Distraction”. No light and fluffy massage here. These techniques help the laboring woman cope with the surge of the contraction and the birth partner can find a way to manage feelings of anxiety and apprehension by taking a hands-on approach to labour.

The great thing is that these techniques aren’t just for labour. These techniques can be used throughout pregnancy to manage aches and pains and in the post-partum period to help with recovery.

Plus – continuing massage once you arrive at hospital can help the woman feel grounded and supported. Often in the transition from home to hospital (or other birthing place) can alter the flow of contractions. Massage is a great way for mum and birth partner to connect and support each other through this phase.

 

Childbirth Can Be Lonely!

Despite all the attention being on her, a labouring woman can feel extremely isolated in the birthing suite. You’ve got various doctors, midwives, anesthetists and even the machine that goes Ping! (See Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” if you don’t get this reference). As the labour progresses, and things start to get real and the baby is just about the arrive, the woman can seek support from her birth partner, knowing that they are equipped to get them through.  When a birth partner is supporting the laboring woman with massage, she will feel more relaxed and have an easier labour and birth.

 

The #1 Way To Guarantee Partner Support In Labour

I facilitate monthly workshops providing couples with hands-on skills to be nurtured, supported and empowered in labour.

This workshop will empower mothers and birth partners by teaching you the skills to provide nurturing and loving touch during the first stages of labour.

It’s really hands-on and we keep it simple and effective so that you get the skills to make it really easy.

In this half day workshop, you will discover:
+ Hands on massage skills for common pregnancy aches
+ How to empower your partner with “Contraction Distraction” during labour
+ How to create calm using essential oils safely during labour
+ How to access the right support for you and your family

 

This workshop is a must-attend for every couple. And Not just for first time families. Even those expecting their second or third child need to attend this workshop.

 

Why? Because every pregnancy, labour, birth and child are different.

 

Throughout your pregnancy you have been poked and prodded with medical tools, and you feel as if your body is not your own. And when you start to labor, you can feel isolated and alone. With massage in labour, your partner will be with you every step of the way.

 

If you have sought regular massage during your pregnancy, you need to attend this workshop so that your birth partner can provide you with therapeutic touch during your labour. I call it “Contraction Distraction”. And trust me, you will NEED this. The massage skills we teach in the workshop are not light and fluffy, because labour is not light and fluffy.

 

And birth partners need to attend because – you need to know what to do when the person you love is in pain. This workshop with give you confidence in because able to support your loved one, and you will both feel more connected as you bring your new baby into the world.

 

Check out the latest workshop dates here.

Feel free to head to the blog archive to read more about the 5 Ways To Feel Radiant During Pregnancy and The 3 Ways To Beat Pregnancy Pains.

Need an appointment? Book Now!

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3 Ways to Beat Pregnancy Pains

While a time of joy and excitement, pregnancy can also be a time of discomfort, pain and general feelings of exhaustion. Many women experience similar common ailments, such as low back pain and leg cramps. In this blog, I hope to give an overview of these common ailments, why they occur and more importantly, what you can do about it!

 

Posture

During pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity shifts forward as their baby develops and their belly gets bigger. This causes a woman’s posture to, for want of a better term – “go outta whack”. Shoulders slouch and curve, the neck is pushed forward, bums stick out. In some cases, women enter pregnancy with postural complaints and these issues become exacerbated during pregnancy.

 

The Role of Hormones

Smooth muscles, connective tissue, cartilage joints and ligaments “soften” during pregnancy thanks to the hormones progesterone and relaxin.  This means that the hip, sacroiliac and pubic symphysis joints become less stable. Most women can cope with these changes, but for women with hypermobility (extra-flexibility) may suffer from additional discomfort.

 

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can be the result of changes to posture. Slouchy shoulders cause tightness in the upper back, shoulder, neck and chest. Shoulder tension may also lead to headaches.

 

Shoulder and Neck Stretch

Sitting in a chair, place you left hand under your bottom. Then tilt your head to the right, drawing your right ear down to your right shoulder. Use your right arm to hold the left side of your head above your ear to intensify the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Click Here For A Visual Guide.

 

Leg Cramps and Pain

In the warmer months, many of my clients complain of leg cramps. Common from the second half of pregnancy, leg cramps can have a sudden onset and often occur at night.  Leg cramps can be eased by gently exercising and stretching the calf prior to going to bed. Painful legs can often be a result of increased weight in the lower half of the body. Extra pressure is placed on the inferior vena cava (the largest vein supplying blood to the lower limbs).

 

Leg Stretch

Place your hands at arm’s length on a wall. With your hips square, place your right foot behind your left. While keeping your right knee straight and your right heel on the floor, bend your left leg slowly. Keep your back straight and hips forward as you hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Click here for a visual guide.

 

Low Back Pain

Low back pain may result from several factors. Women may enter pregnancy with pre-existing low back and gluteal pain. Low back pain can also be cause by tight or strained lower back muscles. The round ligament, one of the eight ligaments that holds the uterus in place, stretches rapidly. This can often cause pain on one side the body, depending on fetal positioning. Low back pain can be alleviated by sleeping in a side-lying position and placing a pillow between the knees and under the tummy.

 

Stretch – Cat Pose

Come on all fours, with your knees hip width apart, and your hands in line with your shoulders. Begin with the spine in a neutral position. Slowly tilt the pelvis under, flattening the lower back. At the same time, tuck your chin to your chest, causing the shoulders to curve and hunch. If wrists become uncomfortable, you may rest on your elbows instead of your hands. Hold the stretch for a few moments and return the spine to a neutral position. Click here for a visual guide.

 

Feel Freer With Massage

Massage is also a great way to manage the common discomforts of pregnancy. From releasing tight shoulders, applying gentle hip join mobilization and alleviating leg cramps. Treatments are personalized to suit you and your unique pain and discomforts.

 

Partner Massage During Labour

DID YOU KNOW – Massage during labour can help the mother to relax, ease her pain and enhance her overall wellbeing.

PLUS – Partner massage helps the two of you to feel more connected as you bring your new baby into the world together.

Supported and Empowered in Labour – Partner Massage training is held monthly. Click here for more information!

 

If you are not sure if massage is appropriate for you during your pregnancy, please contact Laura on 0407 512 009 or book an appointment now.

For more information on the benefits of pregnancy massage, please visit the blog archive.