Shiatsu for Pregnancy: An Holistic Approach to Prenatal Care by Louisa Dalla-Riva
Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it comes with its own set of challenges. The body undergoes continuous changes as it nurtures and develops an unborn child. One holistic approach to support these transformations is Shiatsu, a therapy that combines gentle touch, breathing, movement and postural awareness. In this blog, we explore the benefits of Shiatsu for pregnancy, from relieving physical discomfort to nurturing emotional well-being.
Alleviating Unwelcome Side effects
Shiatsu can help alleviate many of the unwelcome side effects of pregnancy such as:
- back, neck and shoulder pain
- digestive issues
- nausea and heartburn
- stress and anxiety
- sleep issues
Improving Circulation and Emotional Balance
Shiatsu isn’t just about relieving physical discomfort it also enhances blood circulation and lymphatic flow, reducing edema and varicose veins. Moreover, it provides emotional support, helping mothers find calm, reduce stress, improve breathing, and prepare for birth and parenthood.
The Foundations of Shiatsu
Shiatsu is rooted in Chinese Medicine principles including the theory of yin and yang and the vital substances of qi, blood and body fluids. It emphasizes the connection between the environment and well-being. During pregnancy, this awareness can help mothers make changes that support both internal and external environments.
Nurturing the Mother-Baby Bond
Shiatsu practitioners focus on both the mother’s and baby’s energy during treatment. By creating a calm, quiet, and peaceful setting the mother can feel confident and at ease, which in turn provides a nurturing environment for her baby. Slow, deep movements have a profound impact on a mother’s well-being, further nurturing the baby’s development.
Preparing for a Smooth Birth
Shiatsu isn’t just about addressing discomfort; it also prepares mothers for a smoother birthing experience. Encouraging the mother to move into a peaceful state of preparation may reduce anxiety and can minimize the need for medical intervention during childbirth. Shiatsu practitioners also teach exercises and stretches to relieve discomfort, enhancing body awareness during pregnancy and postpartum.
Optimal Fetal Positioning
In the last phase of pregnancy, the Shiatsu practitioner assists in achieving optimal foetal positioning for delivery. Gentle exercises and non-invasive techniques can be especially helpful for breech presentations and pregnancies that go past the due date.
Shiatsu for Induction-Calm Mind, Ready Body
During labour, it is crucial for a woman to have a balance between her mind and body. The time to birth can be unpredictable and yet one of the most powerful events in a woman’s life no matter how she births. Stress and anxiety can overstimulate the autonomic nervous system, but Shiatsu can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, facilitating relaxation and deep breathing. As a result, the mother’s muscles can relax and she can breathe more deeply, giving the baby more room to descend into the pelvis, increasing the pressure on the cervix and increasing the likelihood of the mother going into labour on her own.
Acupressure Points for Induction
Shiatsu incorporates acupressure points used in acupuncture treatments, minus the needles. By stimulating specific acupressure points, Shiatsu massage aims to balance the body’s energy systems. The induction points have a strong descending quality that helps the mother relax by moving her out of her head and into her body, releasing oxytocin, the calming hormone that signals that the baby is ready for birth. This makes the points very effective in encouraging the baby to move into a favourable position by opening the pelvic energy pathways.
Supporting Postnatal Recovery
Shiatsu continues to be beneficial postnatally. It supports abdominal and pelvic floor toning, relieving back and shoulder aches, and improving circulation and lymphatic flow. It can help with sleep, prevent or support mental health concerns, relieve stress and emotional trauma, and even offer breastfeeding support. Afterbirth a mother’s life and her body are changed forever, and bodywork can support these changes for better health outcomes physically, mentally or spiritually for both mother and baby.
Shiatsu isn’t just a massage; it’s a holistic approach to pregnancy helping expectant mothers navigate the journey of pregnancy with greater comfort, confidence, and connection with their growing baby. It’s a gentle touch that can make a world of difference.
Louisa is a graduate of the Southern School of Natural Therapies (Torrens University) and holds a Bachelor of Health Science (Chinese Medicine). Louisa also holds diplomas in Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies, Remedial Massage, and Holistic Counselling. She is registered with both the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).