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.

Emotional, spiritual, and physical realms are intertwined and influential on one another, so I offered verbal reassurance for K and AR, and encouraged them to call for help to whatever larger forces/spirit that they related to. We each did this in our own ways. AR fell the floor in prayer. K whispered to herself. I asked for energy to flow through my hands, to be receptive to K, and to bring her comfort, while I continued a rhythmic touch. I was imagining energy moving through my hands to help K’s cervix relax and open and applying finger pressure on the sacral foramen to stimulate opening and releasing in the pelvic area. I made long, firm strokes down K’s back, drawing the energy down from her shoulders to her sacrum, uniting the strokes with full circles with my flat palm around K’s belly and back. Meanwhile, I began a chant-song that spontaneously arose while touching her, a wordless chant with a deep vibrating tone.

During the massage, I encouraged them to visualize energy flowing through K's body like a river.  We were all focused, when suddenly a wind came through the window, stirring the stifling summer heat. We felt a presence circle through the room and an energy shifted. we all felt it.
 With the next contraction, K said she felt strong pressure, like she wanted to push. As she spoke, she began to grunt, uncontrollably pushing with the urge that moved through her body. “It hurts, it feels different…” she said.

I called the midwives up to the room to check K’s cervix. She was completely dilated! K pushed for an hour to deliver her baby boy, who was much smaller than anticipated. The reason why became evident within the hour, when, instead of the placenta, the head of an unexpected twin emerged! That was a big shock to us all, but a wonderful surprise in the end!

Later, when asked about the effect of massage on her labor, K verbalized that because she trusted me implicitly, as friend and massage therapist, she relaxed completely whenever I laid my hands on her body. She found herself able to attune to whatever part of the body I touched, focusing there and letting go of tension in that particular area. She felt as if I was pulling, pushing, or drawing energy through her body, clearing out tense areas, regenerating tired areas, and opening a movement of energy in areas of resistance. With this intense support, safety and caring, K felt that it significantly increased her endurance and fortitude for such a long labor.

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