Soteria Wellness, LLC
Enhancing Optimal Health Throughout the Lifespan

The Childbearing Year

Please note: Please obtain written permission from your healthcare provider prior to scheduling a prenatal massage if you are experiencing any pregnancy complications. 

Four Trimesters of Massage and Bodywork

Pregnancy and the postpartum period are miraculous times of transformation: a woman becomes a mother, a man becomes a father, a couple becomes a family, a child becomes a big brother or sister, a family grows and their hearts enlarge.  At Soteria Wellness, LLC, we honor you and your family in all the stages of this journey.  In the midst of your excitement, anxiety, mood swings, discomforts, joy, and anticipation, we are privileged to serve you in whatever capacity you desire:  massage and CranioSacral Therapy for mom and dad; Growing Family essential oil classes; infant massage classes; and CranioSacral Therapy for your baby.

"Pregnancy and childbirth can be the greatest and most fulfilling of a woman's experiences.  It is important that their contribution to life be a time of strength, joy, and happiness.  Incorporating bodywork and neuromuscular massage enables one to reduce physical and mental tension, increase strength and endurance, and experience ease and comfort during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum."--William J. McKenzie, Jr., MD, Diplomat American Board of Gynecology and Obstetrics

First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy is a time of emotional, mental, and physical change.  Mom may find herself on a roller coaster ride: elated one moment anxious the next, uncontrollably crying a little later; wondering if she's really pregnant because she feels so well one day, and needing to stay close to a toilet from "morning" sickness the next.  Changing hormones may bring fatigue and mood changes. Massage and bodywork can help balance hormones, allowing Mom to come to terms with all of the changes taking place in her life, as well as bringing relief from many of the common discomforts of pregnancy. 

Of course, if this pregnancy is considered high risk or there have been complications in past pregnancies, your midwife or doctor needs to be consulted before scheduling your session.  In these situations, a written consent to receive massage and bodywork is needed.  Even in a normal, healthy pregnancy, it is recommended that  you speak with your healthcare provider about receiving massage.  Dawn is a certified prenatal massage therapist with the Institute of Somatic Therapy.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST), with its light healing touch, may be an especially valuable adjunct to your holistic approach to pregnancy at this time. Clients have discovered relief from stress, nausea, headache, shoulder and low back pain, in the early stages of pregnancy utilizing this soothing modality.  Others report feeling much more emotionally balanced and peaceful after a session.

"What a difference it has made!  The prenatal massage I received from Dawn helped ease the aches and discomfort an expectant mama experiences as her body makes room for her growing baby.  This was not just a regular massage with adjusted positioning.  Dawn not only created a comfortable table and atmosphere, she identified and targeted those areas that needed therapeutic work specific to pregnancy concerns and challenges.  It was amazing--what every mama deserves!"--Sarah

Benefits of Prenatal, Labor, and Postpartum Massage

Studies from the Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida, indicate more than just stress relief for expectant and new mothers.  Massage by a knowledgeable prenatal massage therapist has been shown to:

  • Relieve Headache
  • Reduce or eliminate back and shoulder pain
  • Increase circulation
  • Reduce stress hormones
  • Enhance sleep
  • Alleviate sciatic nerve impingement
  • Relieve leg cramps and spasm
  • Minimize swelling/edema
  • Improve body image
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing stretch marks
  • Release endorphins, the body's natural painkiller
  • Increase relaxation                         
  • Assist with a shorter, easier labor and hospital stay
  • Reduce occurence and severity of postpartum depression

Photo courtesy of Rintamki family

"I started going to Dawn very early on in my pregnancy and felt those massages and bodywork (CST) helped keep me healthy throughout the pregnancy.  I had sciatic nerve issues that I battled for a few weeks with my first pregnancy and as soon as those issues started in my second pregnancy, I knew that any delay could make it worse.  Dawn fit me into her schedule immediately.  Dawn's massage and bodywork provided me with relief that I felt almost instantly, and I strongly believe that it helped decrease the length of time I had the intense pain to less than a few days.  Dawn had a way of working just the right areas that my body needed during the pregnancy."--Lindsey

Second Trimester

In the second trimester, some women begin to have difficulty with circulation as the growing baby puts pressure on the major blood vessels.  Decreased circulation may lead to headaches, varicose veins, swelling (edema), exacerbation of carpal tunnel syndrome, and fatigue.  Besides releasing contracted muscles, massage moves circulation toward the heart reducing swelling and improving blood flow.  Bodywork helps the nervous system relax, which encourages the blood vessels to dilate increasing circulation further.  This can be valuable in balancing blood pressure while minimizing edema. It encourages enhanced delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells of your body, while allowing waste products that may contribute to muscle stiffness and fatigue to be flushed away.

As baby grows many pregnant women feel somewhat uncoordinated as their center of balance is continually changing.  Massage throughout pregnancy helps Mom tune in to where her body is located in space.  Your therapist will provide tips on posture and how to adapt to the fluctuating center of gravity and increased weight as baby grows.  Dawn will share deep breathing and relaxation exercises that will help not only with stress reduction in pregnancy, but during labor as well. Time in a massage or CranioSacral session is spent assisting adjustment to the structural changes occuring in mom's body due to ligament laxity--working to loosen and align joints by softening tight muscles and connective tissue. Digestive complaints related to the growing baby, such as heartburn and constipation can also be addressed with massage and bodywork.

                           Photo courtesy of Weijola family

Now is the time to begin preparing in earnest for your labor and birth.  By taking care of yourself through optimal nutrition, general fitness, and specific pregnancy exercises; receiving healthy touch; and educating yourself about labor, birth, and parenting options you will be well equipped to confidently handle the days that lie ahead.  Dawn had the privilege of working with over 200 couples through her 14 years as a natural childbirth instructor and doula, forming a strong base of knowledge for her prenatal massage clients. 

Third Trimester

You have reached the home-stretch!  Some of the earlier challenges may continue and even grow in late pregnancy, but often the greatest shift is in mom's energy level and fatigue.  Massage, bodywork, and specific pregnancy exercises can help optimize both the quantity and quality of sleep, as well as prepare muscles for giving birth.  Many women feel increasing discomfort in their low back as well, since one of the uterine ligaments is attached to the sacrum. As baby grows, it places a continual pull on the low back.  When combined with the increasing laxity of the pelvis and spine, the muscles of the low back and hips tend to overcompensate to stabilize the joints causing hip pain or even impinging the sciatic nerve.  Targeted treatment work in these areas can often bring significant relief.

Soteria Wellness is pleased to offer the use of the BodyCushion™ body support system to enhance your comfort throughout pregnancy.  In early pregnancy you will be comfortably cradled without pressure on tender breasts while the support system provides positional decompression to your lower back and shoulders.  As your pregnancy advances, you will receive massage and bodywork in a well-supported side-lying position and/or reclining on our special massage table, with only brief moments on your back when assessing or stretching tight muscles. 

Some expectant mother's like to invite Dad or another birth coach to come with them to a late pregnancy massage.  Coaches will learn a few techniques to improve mom's comfort at home in the final weeks of pregnancy, and to prepare for "Labor Day."  Please let us know when scheduling if this is your intent for the session.  We love to help growing families help themselves!

Photo courtesy of ABMP

"Having massage work done during pregnancy was tremendously beneficial for my overall wellness and health, both physically and emotionally.  I generally carry most of my tension in my shoulders and upper back, and during my second pregnancy, I also experienced sciatic nerve discomfort during the first and second trimester.  Third trimester presented with swollen legs and back pain.  I received two pregnancy massages from Dawn in the last trimester, and both provided the muscle relaxation and relief from pregnancy aches and pains that I sought.  Knowing Dawn's extensive background in prenatal care, coupled with her years of experience as a certified childbirth instructor in the Bradley Method®, I felt confident in entrusting my health--as well as my child-to-be-born--into her care."--Toni

Happy Birth Day!                                

Deep relaxation in labor promotes a faster, more efficient labor, and decreases pain, making massage in labor by a trusted partner or birth attendant a win-win situation!  After all that waiting and anticipation you finally hold a new precious life in your arms. You did it!  Congratulations!

"I didn't realize how much labor massage would benefit me until I was in a difficult and long labor. It was very important to me that I have a natural childbirth, and labor massage helped me get through the pain in my back, also helping me to relax the way I needed to...emotionally as well as physically. If I were to ever have another child, labor massage would be a must!"--Lisa

"During massage, therapists can actually alter the sensation of pain by stimulating skin receptors connected to the brain.  Such stimulation helps the mother's body secrete oxytocin, which makes the uterus contract, and endorphins, which reduce pain."--Marshall Klaus, MD, Neonatologist, UC Berkeley

Photo courtesy of Weijola family

Fourth Trimester

The first three months after baby's arrival compose a symphony of transformation.  All of life is changing--physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial.  In the midst of these changes, no matter how wonderful they are, there is a great deal of family stress and adjustment. CranioSacral Therapy and massage can continue to be an important element of good health and maintaining balance in every area for both parents and child.

Postpartum massage and bodywork help to relieve sore muscles from the delivery and alleviate the muscular strain of holding your baby, especially in the car seat carrier and the many hours spent feeding a newborn.  Bodywork can help restore normal tone and positioning to the uterus and abdominal muscles.  As the tight muscles are released, the mother's pelvis is able to adjust to its non-pregnant position and mom is assisted in realigning her new center of gravity. Many new mothers find CranioSacral Therapy offers relief of lingering pelvic discomfort, headache, and postural distortions after baby's arrival. If a cesarean birth becomes necessary, after your obstetrician has given permission, massage can encourage healthy scar tissue formation. Nurturing touch reassures mom through this challenging time and helps to balance surging hormones, minimizing the baby blues and postpartum depression.

Postpartum massage at Soteria Wellness can be performed using a special torso piece of the body support system. This torso piece eliminates breast compression while allowing perfect support through the breastbone and shoulder blades to allow complete comfort for nursing moms in a face down position.

"The postpartum massages I have received from Dawn have been a significant part in the recovery period, and in maintaining overall wellness.  Her table is adjustable to accommodate the ever-changing postpartum figure of a nursing mom, making it unbelievably comfortable and allowing my body to fully relax and settle in.  She combined CranioSacral Therapy and Swedish relaxation massage, working on realigning the areas that had been shifted and stretched during pregnancy, labor, birth, and recovery.  It also helped with my posture and muscle tightness from nursing and caring for my daughter.  Dawn has a gift for identifying what muscles and parts of the body need attention, and providing the support and technique to make incredible changes!"--Sarah

Infant Massage Instruction

"Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant; food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins."--Dr. Frederick LeBoyer

            Photo courtesy of ABMP

Infant massage has been researched since the mid-1970's thanks to the pioneering work of Vimala McClure  It has been practiced in cultures around the world for thousands of years.  Touch is the first sense developed in humans and a baby's sense of touch is exquisite.  Benefits of nurturing your baby through massage include:

  • Inducing relaxation
  • Enhancing parent-baby bonding
  • Easing digestive discomfort of gas or constipation
  • Soothing a fussy baby
  • Improving immune function
  • Lessening stress of both baby and parent
  • Increasing myelination of nerves and brain development
  • Enhancing growth and weight gain, especially in preterm infants
  • Relieving colic
  • Providing parents time to relax and unwind from the busy pace of life
  • Improving muscle tone and motor skills
  • Promoting communication between parent and child
  • Enhanced sense of love and security
  • Teaching healthy body awareness and nurturing touch
  • Improving sleep
  • Enhancing self esteem
  • Increasing prolactin (the love hormone) levels in parents
  • Relieving pain from teething
  • Easing congestion and promoting respiratory development
  • Improving circulation
  • Providing intimacy between father and child

Photo courtesy of Rintamaki family

Soteria Wellness is proud to offer instruction in infant massage to parents and caregivers in private or small group sessions! Dawn is a certified infant massage therapist and infant massage instructor with the Institute of Somatic Therapy.

"As a father, I loved the infant massage class.  It was so neat to see our little one relax like we hadn't seen before.  Since our baby is breastfed, it has been harder for me to bond with our son, but these very simple and easy massage techniques helped me become closer to him.  Then, we were able to go home and give our baby and our 3 year old son a massage and they both loved it!"--Matt

Babies and CranioSacral Therapy

"As the twig is bent, so doth the tree incline."--William Sutherland's adaptation of Alexander Pope's famous idiom.

Minor uncorrected problems in infancy can be magnified in the growing child and adult.  CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle hands-on approach to wellness that is useful for any age.  Babies respond to CranioSacral work especially quickly and are treated with a "less is more" approach using a very light touch.  Brief sessions with several weeks in between allow baby to integrate the changes that are introduced.  Many reports of colic reduction, head molding correction, nursing problems resolved, and more peaceful babies abound.  Babies and children may benefit from CranioSacral Therapy when they have experienced:

  • Difficult birth (prolonged or fast labor; umbilical cord entanglement or tight wrapping around neck; vacuum or forceps assisted delivery; cesarean birth; pain and fear during labor which influences hormonal balance; separation from mother at birth; etc.)
  • Painful procedures, which, while medically necessary or chosen based on parents deeply held beliefs, cause fear and tension in the baby (NICU stays; multiple heel sticks for blood draws; intubation or deep suctioning; circumcision; immunizations; etc.)
  • Head molding that doesn't resolve within the first week (misshapen or overlapping bones of the skull)
  • Uneven appearance to the face after the first week (one eye or ear appears higher than the other)
  • Difficulty nursing or absent sucking reflex
  • Post tongue/lip tie revision
  • Colic, restlessness, difficulty settling, and excessive crying
  • Developmental delay
  • Bumps and bangs of newly mobile infants and toddlers
  • Any life circumstance which would benefit from a release of tension and stress!

"During labor and delivery our son moved through the birth canal quite quickly which led to bruising on the top of his head and a lot of molding.  When he was three weeks old, he was really colicky, crying up to 4 hours at a time, so we had Dawn do some CranioSacral Therapy on him.  Dawn showed me how his skull bones were still overlapping in the back of his head.  The day after she worked on him, his fussiness was so much better and he is now a very happy baby.  At his four day wellness check-up, his head circumference was in the 15th percentile and at his four week check-up it had jumped up to the 35th percentile. In less than a week from the time he was worked on, his head rounded out nicely and things moved right into place.  I don't believe that would have happened without the CST."--Lindsey

"My daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome a few days after her Birth-day.  She experienced a 48 hour labor.  One of the challenges she faced right away was a struggle to latch on and maintain a good latch for breastfeeding.  She also struggled to breathe well while sleeping and eating.  she spent a week in the NICU, undergoing many tests and treatment--stressful on her little body.  We saw Dawn for CranioSacral Therapy to help bring balance back to her body, including her head, due to all she had experienced.  I also hoped it might help with her latch and breathing.  Within a few minutes, we saw visible changes in her head, face, and jaw.  The shape of her palate changed enormously, and there was less tension in her jaw.  Her sinuses began to open up.  We have been back several times, and continue to see marked improvements in her overall health and posture.  She is now nursing without any challenges, and is able to breathe (and sleep) much better (and quieter!)  This has changed her life, and ours, forever."--Sarah

Dawn is certified in CranioSacral Therapy through Integrative Bodywork Institute.

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