I had a client ask me recently whether I offer induction massage. Now, I didn’t actually know this was a thing, so of course, I googled it and YES, massage clinics all over the country are offering induction massages at premium rates. So, in answer to her question, do I offer induction massages? Well, yes and no. I offer therapeutic relaxation massage to women in all stages of pregnancy. Some women choose to come for a massage if they are “overdue” and some women are in the very early stages of labour when they see me and often labour and birth will follow in the day/s after their treatment. Am I solely responsible for this outcome? No. Does massage help to stimulate labour in women who are probably going to go into labour anyway? Probably. Can I then call it an induction massage? No. Do women enjoy therapeutic relaxation massage and find it useful in the late stages of pregnancy? Absolutely!
Labour physiology is complex, so complex that we still don’t know exactly how it happens (if we did, artificial induction would be successful 100% of the time). What we do know is that there are hormones that are key players in the labour process – oxytocin is one of these key players. The great thing about massage, especially therapeutic relaxation massage, is that it helps to stimulate oxytocin production. This is why in a trusted massage situation, the person feels happy and content after a massage (so does the person giving the massage. Yes, I’m a midwife and a massage therapist – a complete oxytocin addict!). In labour, oxytocin works in a positive feedback loop – the more oxytocin, the more uterine contractions, as the contractions and oxytocin flow increase, the baby is eventually born. So in the very late stages of pregnancy and early stages of labour, oxytocin production can be enhanced using therapeutic relaxation massage, but only if the woman is comfortable and relaxed. Which brings me to another key player in the labour hormone dance – adrenalin. Adrenalin is a labour rescue hormone – when present, it actively tells the cervix not to open, even if the uterus is contracting. This causes painful, incoordinate contractions that will often end in labour slowing and/or stopping completely, often leading to a diagnosis of “failure to progress” (patriarchal language) and induction/augmentation of labour or caesarean section. Adrenalin is released as part of the sympathetic nervous system response of “fight or flight”, a common response to the stress associated with having a baby in a foreign environment with strangers. The great thing about therapeutic relaxation massage (and yoga techniques for that matter) is that it can help to balance adrenalin production and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” branch of the nervous system, essential for oxytocin to be easily released and labour to progress. Massage is great prior to labour and during labour for that reason.
So what can you expect from a pregnancy massage at Chill Mama Wellness if you are in the very late stages of pregnancy? The same as a normal pregnancy massage really. I will tailor the experience to your needs based on how your body is feeling on the day. I use swedish massage techniques to help loosen tight muscles, especially in the neck, shoulders, low back and hips. Women will often want to talk about their fears or their anticipation of the birthing and mothering experience, this is fantastic and encouraged. I use a relaxing and uplifting blend of essential oils suitable for pregnancy based on your smell preferences and magnesium oil to help with the relaxation response. Sometimes I will incorporate rebozo into the session based on your preferences. The whole purpose of the massage session is to leave you feeling relaxed in your mind and in your body as I believe this will assist your normal body physiology to do what it does best and get on with the job of growing and birthing your baby.
Therapeutic relaxation massage is available on a Wednesday at Nurture Health Group, 208 Beechworth Road, Wodonga. For online bookings click here