Monday, October 31, 2011

Massage to Induce Labor?

When a woman’s due date has come and gone, she may develop anxiety about whether labor will ever start. Usually after 41 weeks gestation, doctors and midwives begin to consider options for inducing labor in an effort to avoid the baby getting too large or the placenta deteriorating. Some women who believe that receiving an “induction” massage might stimulate their labor come to ask their massage therapist for such help. 
Massage does not trigger labor to begin. What massage can do is to help the mother relax. Relaxation helps diminish adrenalin and catecholamine production, allowing hormones, endorphins and prostaglandins that prepare the body for labor, to function more optimally. Massage can be very beneficial at this late stage of pregnancy, and if a woman’s labor does begin after receiving a massage, she may believe it was the touch that stimulated it. However, it is much more likely that it was due to her ability to relax under the touch and be offered reminders of her body’s inherent wisdom regarding birth, which allowed the natural development of contractions to occur. In this way, massage was a complementary support, rather than the cause of labor beginning. For many women, labor still does not begin until other elements are in place––physically, psychologically, or spiritually––even after receiving a thorough and focused massage with the intent of supporting labor.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Birth Acupressure and Massage Testimonial

From Sarah, Maternity Massage Certification student of mine at Oregon School of Massage

"I'm reporting a beautiful, empowered, and (surprisingly) healthy birth with the help of your classes and video.

I'd taken the maternity massage courses through OSM prior to conception, and had worked with pregnant women for a few months.

During our 38 week prenatal visit, my blood pressure was alarmingly high-159/100. Our midwives at Alma Midwifery immediately scheduled a transfer of care to the midwifery team at Emanuel Hospital. They started pushing for an induction, we delayed, finally resorting to breast pumping on his due date.

We labored gently at home for 24 hours, my husband rubbing my belly, using sacral pressure, and hip rolling to center us. I credit his touch for enabling us to labor at home, in peace as long as we did.

Once we arrived at the hospital, my labor stalled-we used the acupressure to gain momentum and confidence-the hospital midwives were astonished, they had already lectured me about not getting my hopes up, we could be laboring for another 24-48 hours.
We labored quietly, and alone, with the support of my doula. The touch was incredibly supportive-we found when one type of touch stopped working, another one started.

My baby boy was born a short 8 hours later, in one big push much to the surprise of everyone. I was on all fours as my husband pressed Kidney 1, thankfully as he managed to catch our babe. The midwife was still putting on her scrubs. My blood pressure never rose above 140.

I believe the supportive touch my husband was able to provide allowed us the birth we had always hoped for."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Birth Story: Massage and Spirit

I love this story of a birth. The incorporation of caring touch, spirit calling, and visualization made the difference between a hospital transport, and a successful home birth with a big surprise.

K’s bag of waters broke at first light on a hot, humid summer Sunday, but contractions were few and far between, despite hours of brisk walking, herbal concoctions, and emotional processing. By Monday morning, her cervix was 5 cm. dilated. She was exhausted, and the midwives were questioning whether the potentially large size of this baby was the cause of the slow progress. While the midwives conferred,  I decided to rub her belly to help motivate contractions.

I entered the bedroom where K labored with her husband (AR). We were in an old farmhouse upstairs and the air was blazing,  the fan blasting hot air across her body. She was curled on her left side on the bed, breathing and trying to relax with contractions.  AR sat at her feet, holding and rubbing them, stimulating reflexology areas and acupressure points that he had been shown. Sitting behind K’s back, I poured some oil in my hands, and began to rub K’s sacrum and belly simultaneously. I massaged in large slow circles around the belly, around the back, and down the thighs and buttocks.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

DOULA support during birth

Paramount to a satisfying birth experience for many women is having the support of a massage therapist or doula––a caregiver specialized in offering laboring women emotional encouragement and physical touch. More than the relief of pain, it is the emotional support and safety that develops between these types of birth companions and the laboring woman that helps her to feel empowered to cope with her contractions and which leads her to a sense of satisfaction about her birth.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Poem for the Grown Child

This is a poem by a student's mother who makes and carries pregnancy related massage

CAPTIVE MOMENTS by L. Whitlow 4/2002

Should I be found worthy

to live again your childhood,

I would wake up earlier

to spend more daylight with you;

I could show you the magic of sunrise

and rock you to sleep by starlight

and moonrise;

Friday, June 17, 2011


SPECIAL OFFER!   For a limited time only.   Here's what to do:

1. Sign up for this blog.

2. Tell me you read this blog and how you will use massage during birth. Write to me at 

3. THEN Order MotherTouch: Touch Techniques for Birth DVD at
Tell me you have just done so, and I will include in your package for FREE the DVD Nurturing Touch For Birth which normally retails for $39.95!

This dvd shows 4 women in labor and birth receiving nurturing touch throughout. Mothers, midwives, and mates talk about their experiences with touch during birth.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Massage after Miscarriage

Recently a student wrote the following:
Hi Leslie,
I enjoyed your class immensely!
On Monday I had one of my yoga students call and tell me that she lost
her baby, and that she was having a lot of sadness in her body.
She needed some support and wanted post-natal massage.
Do you have anything ceremonies or ideas to help me support her move through this

Birth Quote

"When we birth consciously, putting our great rational mind on hold and allowing our instinctive nature to dominate, we can access the wisdom that all spiritual traditions teach: the ego is our servant, not our mistress; and our path to ecstasy and enlightenment involves surrendering our egotistical notions of control." Sarah Buckley, Australian MD


Promote Labor with Acupuncture

At the end of pregnancy, women and families get impatient for baby to arrive. There are alot of methods people try to encourage labor to begin. Baby as plenty to say about this, when she or he is ready, she may help to trigger the release of hormones that cause contractions to begin. In my experience of being part of 100's of births, I have seen acupuncture have a dramatic effect on initiating labor, speeding labor, and in reducing the rate of Cesarean sections.

A study was done at the University of North Carolina on the use of acupuncture to stimulate labor. 28 women between 39 ½ to 41 weeks pregnant, received three acupuncture sessions, while 28 women did not.

Results are as following: "Among those who received acupuncture, 70% went into labor without medical intervention. This compares to 50% of those who received standard care. The women who got acupuncture were also less likely to deliver by cesarean section -- 39% compared to 17%.

'"We had almost a 50% reduction in the C-section rate," researcher Terry Harper, MD, tells WebMD. The study appeared in the August 2006 issue of The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine."

I have witnessed acupressure, massage, nurturing touch and support, and hypnotherapy all have positive effects on how a woman experiences her labor and birth.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maine Massage Practice

Massage for Pregnancy, Birth, Postpartum

If you live in Maine, you can visit me there for private sessions, classes, or just to chat about touch and birth. I also do massage for postpartum women suffering from pelvic floor disorders after birth, and for women experiencing other difficulties related to uterine and pelvic floor dysfunctions.
CLick the link above to find me on
And visit my website!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Perineal Massage for Labor Preparation

Many women giving birth experience some sort of trauma to their perineal tissues. This is not surprising, considering that a 6-10 pound little person has spent minutes or hours pushing her or his way against a woman’s delicate innermost mucus membranes. If the baby descends too quickly or if the mother pushes too forcefully, it is possible that these tissues will not stretch adequately and they may tear.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Acupressure for Birth-Large Intestine 4

Located on either hand between the thumb and first finger is an acupressure point called Large Intestine-4, or Hoku. This is one of the most powerful points for a variety of complaints including constipation, headaches, and digestive woes. During labor it is particularly useful for reducing pain and encouraging contractions.

It's fine to do hand massage, or to explore how the point feels, but repeated acupressure to this spot is not considered appropriate during pregnancy until one is expecting labor to begin soon.

Acupuncture stimulation of Large Intestine-4 for 15-30 minutes has been shown to produce enough endorphins to be successful pain relief for dental surgery. Some studies have indicated that rubbing a bag of crushed ice, or an ice cube, on this point during labor can help to reduce contraction pain.
In this study, 49 pregnant women used ice massage on the point during early labor, at the beginning of each contraction and continuing until the contraction stopped.
During the next contraction, the ice was rubbed on the opposite hand. This continued for 20 minutes or 4 contractions.

Women reported pain reduction by nearly 50% when ice massage was used in the left hand, and by 19% in the left hand. Learn more about using this point with Touch Techniques for Birth DVD.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Acupressure for Birth

Last posting I talked about Spleen 6, a powerful acu-point for hormonal balancing and labor preparation and support. Using the same touch techniques to access that point, include Kidney 3 and Bladder 60, on either side of the ankles to encourage downward movement energetically, as well as to relieve back pain, and encourage labor to progress.

Kidney 3 is located behind the inner ankle and Bladder 60 is located behind the outer ankle. Squeeze both at once between the ankle and Achilles tendon.Apply pressure gradually, with attention and intention, as she exhales. Release the pressure with the same attention.

Press these points every half hour when helping to initiate contractions, working both sides of the body simultaneously if possible. Hold each point for at least 5 minutes, encouraging the client to envision the cervix softening and dilating, imagining hormones coming into full strength to promote labor, envisioning energy flowing without blockage throughout her body.

Acupressure points are not magic buttons that will cause a change immediately; they need thorough and consistent attention over a period of hours or days to be effective.

When searching for a point, ask how it feels; the woman may notice a special sensitivity when you touch the point, a discomfort, a zing of energy, or a pulsing. Or she may not feel much at all. Think of the body as a temple in which it is appropriate to enter quietly and respectfully; use that same respect and caution when touching a point.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Powerful Acupressure for Promoting Labor

Acupressure is a system of physical and energetic healing that uses pressure on specific points and channels to stimulate or balance the flow of energy through the body.  There are 12 primary paired meridians associated with specific organ systems.

The Spleen/Stomach meridian supports the immune system and balances hormones and cellular fluids.  Acupressure points on the Spleen meridian are especially useful for  labor induction, edema reduction, uterine concerns, and relief of nausea.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Massage Leads to Safe, Natural Birth

Here is a recent letter from a former student:
Hi Leslie,
I'm reporting a beautiful, empowered, and (surprisingly) healthy birth with the help of your classes and video.
I'd taken the maternity massage courses through OSM prior to conception, and had worked with pregnant women for a few months.
During our 38 week prenatal visit, my blood pressure was alarmingly high-159/100. Our midwives at Alma Midwifery immediately scheduled a transfer of care to the midwifery team at Emanuel Hospital. They started pushing for an induction, we delayed, finally resorting to breast pumping on his due date.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How To Use Acupressure for Birth: Accessing points

If you wanted to use acupressure to help support labor, which points would you use, and How? The technique of application is just as important as which points are used; simply rubbing your finger over a point for a moment or two while talking about the weather is not apt to get much effect.

Let's examine some basic principles of acupressure in this posting and in the next, we'll look at two primary points that can help improve effectiveness of contractions and support labor to progress.

SEE WITH YOUR FINGERS: Acupressure points are located in slightly different places on each person. When searching for a point, imagine "seeing" with your fingers more than with your eyes. Feel for an energetic opening in the location of that point. It may feel like a dip in the tissue that draws your finger in. It may feel warm, ...


In August, 2010, doctors attempted to save Kate Ogg's two pound baby after its premature delivery. Their efforts proved unsuccessful, and the 27 week old baby was declared dead.

Kate took the baby and wrapped him up in a towel, cuddling and holding him against her skin. Two hours later the baby began showing signs of life.

At first, those present mistook the movements as a reflex action, but the baby began breathing normally, even opening his eyes and reaching up to grasp his mother's finger.

Her husband commented: "'She instinctively did what she did. If she hadn't done that, Jamie probably wouldn't be here.'"

Monday, January 31, 2011

Acupressure During Pregnancy

Many people are concerned about causing a miscarriage with acupressure by pressing the ‘wrong’ areas on a woman’s body. If only it were so simple for touch to stimulate labor or contractions to begin! Women would happily avoid all medically induced labors and abortions.

THere are a few very specific acupressure points in the lower leg, feet, hands and shoulders, that are generally contraindicated for acupressure or acupuncture during pregnancy, but they are not “magic buttons” that cause contractions when touched or massaged! Oh if only they were!

These points are often used during the last weeks of pregnancy, to help prepare the body for labor. They may be used to help encourage and induce labor to begin or progress more quickly. Remember though, that the baby has alot of input on when labor begins…and no matter what efforts a mother and companions may make, labor will not begin if it is not the right timing and if all other elements have not aligned for birth.

Check for more resources about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and touch.

Debunking Myths of the Dangers of Pregnancy Massage

Around the world touch has been used to improve and enhance a woman’s experience of her pregnancy and birth. Ongoing research supports the claims of psychological and physiological benefits of massage specifically during the perinatal cycle. Some cited benefits include: improved physiological function; improved posture and emotional wellbeing; musculoskeletal pain reduction; enhanced lactation and increased prolactin production; decreased intra-uterine stress; increased ability to nurture others.

While the benefits are many, myths of dangers still circulate,

Blood Clots and Massage During Pregnancy- For massage therapists

There are many inaccurate beliefs about perinatal massage, but there are also real and important precautions and contraindications during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period. Massage therapists intending to work with this clientele need to cultivate an in-depth knowledge of the physiological changes during pregnancy and postpartum, with the skill to implement adaptations relative to minor risks, and the ability to recognize some symptoms of high-risk situations.

One primary concern