Friday, May 2, 2014

I was on the radio this winter talking about perinatal massage work!

Guiding others through important life passages

Leslie Stager is a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Massage Therapist who has attended over 500 births. She worked for years as a labor and delivery nurse, doula, and childbirth educator and developed and directs the 60-hour MotherTouch Maternity Massage Certification Program. She is the author of a prime perinatal massage textbook, and has produced three educational massage and birth DVDs. Listen in here to hear about her journey of becoming an international perinatal massage educator.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Power of Mother!

Around the world, the cycle of pregnancy, birth  and becoming Mother––as well as women’s other blood mysteries of menstruation and menopause––is revered and acknowledged with elaborate ceremonies; women are recognized as the source of all creation, or as Tamara Slayton describes—as “vessels of spiritual fire” (Baker 1986:222). It is no small miracle to have two people making use of one external body. It is no small matter that a woman can nourish life with milk produced in her breasts. An Orthodox Jewish woman described that in her tradition, a woman in her Moontime is revered for reflecting the creative power of the Divine: the power to bring another human being into life. Thus, she is treated deferentially by men, especially during this time in her monthly cycle. This role as creator and bearer of life is recognized by most cultures as one of utmost power; females are respected, feared and held in awe for this primal blood mystery. 

The Power of Ma!  In Assam, India, there is a temple specifically honoring the “yoni” or vagina of the Goddess Khamakya. Once a year at this temple, the goddess is said to be menstruating. Men and women from around the country stop work and come to the temple to honor her fertility. Flowing deep inside the temple is a stream that turns red at this time of year. People stand in line for days to be able to kneel by this stream and collect the healing water—the menstrual blood of Khamakya. Women often run out of the temple, moved by their contact with the Great Mother goddess, crying and calling out, “Ma, Ma, Ma.”
“Ma, Ma, Ma”… it is a universal sound that has called for mother for thousands of years. It is a word that is embedded in our language in the words: Mama, Mammal, Mammary—words related to mothering. It is a sound that often emanates naturally from a newborn’s voice when calling for mother.
The specific word “mama”––for mother––exists in numerous languages: Russian, Mayan, Quechuan, Swahili, Albanian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Swahili, Turkish, Hawaiian, Arizona Hopi, Chickasaw, Chinook, Creek, Koasati. Many other languages have words related to motherhood with roots in Sanskrit (see list below).
In my work as MotherTouch perinatal massage educator, doula, and rites of passage guide, I remind students and clients of this essential wisdom and reverence for becoming Mother. 

Sanskrit, considered to be the “mother of all languages,” has words for mother that relates to most Indo-European words for mother.  In Sanskrit, mother is: Maatrih, maatah, maatur, maatrikah.
Afirkaans: MA, MOEDER
 Latin: MATER, MATRIX ("origin")
--Danish: MOR
--Hungarian: MAMA
--Mayan: MAMAH
--Swahili: MAMA
--Polish: MATKA
--Quechuan: MAMA
--Spanish: MADRE
--Vietnamese: ME, ME DE
--Old English: MODOR
--Hopi (Arizona): MAAMA
--Zulu: UMAME
--Tolowa (NW California): ME-DRE, "mother-in-law".
--Western Abenaki (Quebec) MAMAN--"food (baby talk)"
--Turkish MAMA, "(baby) food". Interestingly, the Turkish words for mother are ANNE or ANA. ???Cf. Skt. ANNAH, "food"; IS THAT’S SANSKRIT?
--Swahili MAMA MZAZI, "mother-who-produces-offspring"
--Albanian: MATRICE, "womb"
--Finnish: EMA"MAA, "mother-country"
--Spanish: MAMAR--suck,  devour food; acquire in infancy"
.--English: MAMMAL, "breast-feeder".
--Latin: MAMMA, "breast"
; --Greek: MAMME-- "midwife, grandmother";
 --Ancient Greek: MAMMAN-- "cry for food".
--Hawaiian: MAMA, "to chew, but not swallow"(such as mothers pre-masticating food for infants)

Some tribes of people, like the Assam in Africa, call themselves "maharis", or "motherhoods."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cesarean Scar Healing Massage

So, you or your client had a cesarean section? 

A cesarean section is often treated as if it were a no-nonsense procedure from which women should recover quickly. In fact, it is serious surgery, and a huge intrusion into the wholeness of one's body. It can cause many complications afterward, especially if the scar tissues are not tended to quickly. This can include prolapsed organs, bladder incontinence, abdominal and intestinal pain, hip pain, organ displacement, and more. But what woman is given information after delivery about how to tend to her scar?  

This article should offer a little help, as it describes how, when, why to massage the surgical scar!

Pregnancy Massage Risks and Postnatal Massage

Many public forums discussing pregnancy massage rant about certain contraindicated acupressure points during pregnancy and fearful myths about their potential to stimulate contractions or miscarriage. I have written about these myths in an article published in Massage & Bodywork Magazine.

 However, one of the primary concerns rarely discussed in these same public forums  are the much more concerning risks of blood clots and embolism, and the many issues faced by women during the postnatal period.  During pregnancy a woman’s normal risk for experiencing a blood clot is multiplied by 5. That risk increases even more during the postnatal period. In fact, as far as a massage therapist is concerned, the postnatal period is a much more risky and vulnerable time overall for both mother and baby. Blood clots are just one issue to be aware of in the first 6 weeks postpartum. For some women there are also potential dangerous outcomes of continued effects of preeclampsia (a condition that occurs only in the perinatal period). There are many more issues of hormonal imbalances, postural readjustments, and musculoskeletal discomforts relative to a woman’s life as a post-birth, new mother that need to be carefully considered when working with postnatal clientele.  This postpartum time period does not just last the proverbial 6 weeks. It actually may be up to a year before a new mother’s body has returned to a semblance of pre-pregnant homeostasis.

Mothertouch Massage & Bodywork For the New Mother class, will be taught again November 2013 at the Oregon School of Massage, addresses these concerns and much more. Topics include the physiological and psycho-emotional realities of mothering, along with numerous techniques for hip and pelvic rebalancing, renewal acupressure, breast massage, external abdominal and uterine work, and addressing cesarean scars.
FOr more information:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Most people preparing to have a baby or supporting others during pregnancy focus their attentions on the proverbial "rosy glow" or the aches and pains of pregnancy. Then they turn their focus to facing the expected challenges of  birth. Rarely do people spend much time thinking about the support needed After baby comes. The reality of Motherhood and need to establish clear long-lasting support after a child is born, is lost and neglected under the excitement of the pregnancy and the initial welcoming of baby. Yet, postpartum is the most critical, most vulnerable, most dangerous, and most need-filled time for perinatal women.  The lack of sleep, the uncertainty of how to care for a first born, sibling  confusion,  massive hormonal shifts, and the complete depletion of vital energy after 9 months of Creating a new Human being, all lead to the potential for mothers to experience postpartum depression, isolation, and trauma. When a mother is well and happy, she and her baby produce plenty of Oxytocin, the love hormone that nurtures the bond between herself and  her child. If Mother is depressed, baby reflects the same chemical soup in its blood and saliva that mom is depressed too.