Prenatal Massage – Part 1

Penatal-Hip-WorkThis is the first of a series of articles aimed to be helpful information for both the practitioner and the pregnant mother.  If you are a therapist I hope that you find this information helpful to your practice and if you are pregnant, may these articles deepen your experience and inspire your path towards an ecstatic birth!
The pregnant experience can bring on challenges in the body.  We, as women, have the choice to see these challenges as invitations to know our bodies better before giving birth.   We are blessed to have women like Carole Osborne Sheets teaching advanced prenatal courses, giving practitioners a solid training and deep understanding of the pregnant woman’s bodily challenges and changes.   Here are some wonderful techniques that I learned from her that will greatly reduce hip and lower back pain and improve posture.  Do not attempt any of these steps on a pregnant client unless you have completed a prenatal course, having knowledge on correct positioning, bolstering, and contraindications.  The following of course would be avoided if there is separ-
ation in the pubic symphysis.

Assessing posture is the first step to low back and hip work.  Awareness can be brought to the swayback (lordosis) with visual guidance.  A full length mirror is helpful. A slight bend of the knees will take the woman out of hyper extension of the knee.  Are her feet turned out? Is there a waddling action when she walks? This usually occurs as pressure from the growing uterus often causes a turning out (external rotation) of the thigh bone (femur) in the hip socket (acetabulum)    A gentle tucking under of the tale bone will decrease the swayback even more.  Encourage postural checkins during the day for her self care after treatment.

Prenatal-low-backLet us begin now with the bodywork. Face the feet of your side lying client.  A gentle rocking says hello to the hip area.  Is the hip restricted or hyper flexible? Use this initial work to explore and drop in. Rocking alone can be very relieving.  Invite the woman to breathe into the new space that the rocking is opening for her.
Guide her breath down to her uterus imagining that it is gently caressing the baby on the inhale and lifting up and off the baby on the exhale.  This breath is relaxing and if used daily can facilitate a relaxed state and a intimate bond between mother and child.
Stand behind the hip in line with the femur bone that is supported with pillows, position your (hands one on top of the other) palming the anterior superior iliac spine.  With firm pressure, lean your weight towards knee.  This releases the femur out of the acetabulum.  Ask her to “think” her knee away from your hand.  This opens the energetic pathways more, allowing for an extra release.
Now that you have created this extra space take your hand that is closer to clients head and place it with thumbs in the iliac joint.  With the palm of your other hand  between the sacrum and greater trochanter, slowly rock the ilium away from the sacrum.  This slow traction-like movement allows the thumb to swim into the joint and is so relieving for your client.

After long holds of 30 seconds for myofascial release, return your body to face the feet.  Place your hands on the iliac crest and rock towards feet.

Chula Gemignani CMT
Healing River Massage  Grass Valley, California.