With my husband Joel still working away in central Queensland, pregnancy complications, and a baby eager to arrive five weeks early, some specialised relaxation techniques I had learnt during my pregnancy came in very handy for my baby Archer’s arrival.
Being a few thousand kilometres away, it took a 300 kilometre drive, being stuck behind a several hundred strong cattle drove, two plane flights and a taxi ride, before my husband finally arrived at the hospital just as I came out of recovery after a caesarean - with Archer ready and waiting in the nursery to meet his Dad!
We laugh about it now, but it was daunting at the time.
I have no doubt that my practice of keeping calm and meditating helped me through that time, when I was essentially by myself. My baby shower was only two days prior and my family, who live in Port Lincoln had just left for their seven-hour drive home. I had no bag packed and very limited support available!
An ambulance ride to the hospital and after the safe arrival of Archer, I now feel I am in a position to really make a difference to other pregnant women’s comfort and pain levels.
I had learnt some techniques from a mindfulness meditation practitioner during my pregnancy but she wasn’t the only complementary health professional I saw during that time.
As a qualified massage therapist, I had treated pregnant women with back pain but never truly understood how bad it could be. Then I began experiencing severe back pain during my second trimester and every step, every time my heel hit the ground, I was in excruciating pain. I’ve now changed the way I treat clients because I understand that pain so much better. I’ve also been able to instruct my therapists so they now have a much deeper insight into that pain and treatment as well.
My own treatment schedule included regular massage to reduce muscle spasm and help with the new demands placed on my body. I also saw a physiotherapist and joined weekly pre-natal Pilates classes with the aim of improving my core strength and hence, reducing the pain. By the second or third week, my pain had considerably reduced and I was able to continue treating comfortably again.
I’ve been working as a massage therapist specialising in sports and pregnancy massage since I was 16. As a health professional, I understand that a collaborative approach is important for a woman’s health.
But unfortunately, there are still too many women who don’t realise that services such as pregnancy massage and physiotherapy are available and can help make a pregnancy much more comfortable.
I want to encourage women to seek help if they are in pain. Pregnancy places extra stress on your body’s muscles and joints in ways we can never imagine or understand until it happens to us. But there are plenty of ways to make the journey of pregnancy and birth much more comfortable.
I’m also passionate about helping mums understand the importance of infant massage. While we no longer offer this as a class at our clinic, it is something I personally have seen the benefits of and talk to my clients about what it can do for them and their babies.
Since bringing Archer home, I found the skills I learned during our time of running baby massage classes very helpful for understanding what Archer is trying to communicate to me. Baby massage isn’t just about something nice to do with your baby, it’s also about building confidence (yours and your baby’s), learning behaviours and cues that help to better understand what your baby is telling you.
We still do little massages after a bath but the main thing it has taught me is what Archer is trying to tell me, for example, when he’s tired, cranky, wants a cuddle or a chat or when he just wants to chill. It makes for a very contented baby as he doesn’t have to get frustrated with me. I understand most of what he’s trying to communicate.
Pregnant women may not realise they don’t have to put up with aches and pains – there will be enough of that to come! When some of these therapies are combined, we can make the experience for expectant mums much more comfortable and enjoyable.