It has been culturally acceptable and desirable to seek natural remedies and techniques to enhance women’s pregnancy and birthing experiences since time began.
Tactile therapies such as massage, reflexology and reiki have been viewed as a means of nurturing the mother and her unborn child to maintain a healthy pregnancy, prevent potential problems and to ensure a positive birth outcome.
Apparently for well over 300 years, English midwives have used sweet-smelling oils for massage in labour and reflexology has been known to be used for at least 3000 years according to some ancient Chinese texts of Obstetrics. Egyptian Hieroglyphics display an image of two practitioners giving a form of foot massage to two patients in the tomb of a well respected Physician so it was clearly seen to be used as a form of a health related therapy.
Complementary therapies combining reflexology, massage, reiki, self- hypnosis along with meditation / visualisations as well as some breathing techniques can assist women to cope better during pregnancy and labour. They boost the body’s natural ‘Opiates’ known as the ‘Endorphins’ …. our natural painkillers which are so pleasurable as they elicit that ‘warm fuzzy feeling’
Both the body and mind therapies can help with the physical, hormonal and emotional changes during each trimester. Every woman’s experience is unique as are the challenges they face with family and work balance and there is a therapy option to suit everyone.
Touch is a basic need of babies, young children, adolescents, adults and even people in old age. It is one way that human beings seem “designed” to communicate.
Touch has elicited a lot of interest in the past decade or so. Research shows that what has been called “therapeutic touch” has many positive effects on children, it promotes healthy development and helps to enhance the body’s ability to self-regulate or perform movements. It even helps us to control our emotions.
Human babies need and seek the experience of touch. Babies like to sleep close to their mother and become very distressed if they do not have that body contact. The human infant is “programmed” with a number of reflexes to recognize the mother at birth and to stay within close proximity to her.
In newborn infants, the experience of deep touch or massage has been shown to increase weight gain and to reduce complications (infections, cessation of breathing). In the neonatal intensive care unit, several researchers have demonstrated the positive influence of these touch experiences. They result in shorter stays in the unit and more self-organization ability in babies.
Massage helps the infant develop an awareness of the body, by giving deep sensation from the body’s surface. The deep pressure also helps many babies calm down enough to cope with the avalanche of stimulation from our busy everyday world (lights, television, radio, stereo, changing environments).
When accompanied by movements in the arms and legs, massage can aid in the development of motor coordination and good muscle tone. It has been recommended that mothers and fathers provide massage for their babies while also singing or “talking” softly to them (practicing a sort of “gymnastics” with the baby’s arms and legs).