During pregnancy your body constantly changes as it adapts to the development and growth of her baby. Shiatsu is a wonderful way of assisting with these changes, with a combination of nurturing touch, breathing, exercise and postural awareness. Shiatsu eases physical and emotional disease and creates awareness of the changes going on in your body – through all stages of pregnancy from preconception to the postnatal period. 

Shiatsu treatment 

Shiatsu, also known as “finger pressure”, is a holistic healing bodywork developed in Japan and based on theories of Traditional Chinese medicine. It stimulates the energy systems of the body to promote health and well-being.

Shiatsu supports and strengthens the body’s natural ability to heal and balance itself. It works on the whole person; including physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects of ourselves. It works on the autonomic nervous system; helping to release toxins and tension from the muscles, and can stimulate the hormonal system. The aim is not only to alleviate the immediate problem, but to determine and treat the cause. Diagnostic skills and techniques are used to determine the course of treatment.

Shiatsu integrates meridian therapy, point selection, moxibustion, cupping, gua sha and corrective exercises as part of the healing process. The practitioner uses palms, fingers, thumbs, elbows, knees and even feet in a combination of massage techniques, applying pressure to key points to influence and stimulate energy flow in the body. Stretches are an integral part of a shiatsu treatment, as are lifestyle advice such as diet, yoga, meditation and exercise. 

The person receiving shiatsu remains clothed and covered with a blanket and treatment is done on a Japanese style futon with supporting bolsters and pillows, adaptable throughout the different trimesters. The ideal positions may be on your back and stomach in the first trimester but move to side lying as your pregnancy progresses. There can also be the use of a fit ball or seated positions as your practitioner assesses each client individually. The treatment allows for the client to remain clothed therefore, comfortable, loose fitting clothing is recommended.

Mother benefits

Fundamental to shiatsu is the awareness of your relationship to the environment and how it affects your overall wellbeing. You and your baby are more sensitive to your environment during pregnancy. Shiatsu supports you to understand changes you can make in your internal and external environment to best support yourself and your unborn child.

Shiatsu offers the perfect solution to address your changing needs and can alleviate many of the unwelcome side effects of pregnancy, such as:

  • Back pain, sciatica, assisting with posture, muscle tone and mobility
  • Headaches, neck and shoulder tension
  • Aids digestion, relieves nausea and heartburn, eases constipation
  • Promotes balance, relaxation, aids sleep and reduces insomnia
  • Promotes improvement in blood circulation and lymphatic flow, ease oedema and varicose veins in legs and feet
  • Supports the physical, emotional, hormonal and spiritual journey through pregnancy
  • Allows time and space to relax, find calm, reduce stress, improve breathing, prepare for birth and parenthood.

Baby benefits

The shiatsu practitioner always considers the baby throughout treatment and focuses on the energy of both mother and baby. By providing a calm, quiet and relaxed space, the atmosphere allows you to feel relaxed and secure, in turn providing a nurturing environment for your baby. 

The practitioner helps build a connection between mother and baby, with breathing techniques and visualisations embedded into the treatment, working with slow, deep movements that have a powerful effect.

Birth preparation

The goal is to help you to enter childbirth with good health, body awareness and a strong connection to you baby. Supporting you to prepare for childbirth in a relaxed state helps reduce anxiety and increase self-confidence. This moderates the perception of pain during childbirth, and can reduce the length of labour, leading to a reduced need for medical intervention. 

The shiatsu practitioner can teach exercises to help your body adapt to the physical changes that occur during pregnancy, which are useful as preparation for childbirth. The regular practice of exercises and stretches relieves body discomfort while promoting body awareness. It can also help you better adapt to the changes experienced during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

In the last phase of pregnancy the shiatsu practitioner will assist with obtaining the optimal fetal positioning for delivery. This is done through gentle exercises and non-invasive techniques, often assisting with breech presentations and pregnancies past the estimated due date.

Shiatsu induction massage

Labour is a time in a woman’s life when it is vital that she be in harmony with her body and mind. Bringing another life into the world through one’s body is a rite of passage that is unpredictable and powerful.

Shiatsu massage is a great way to prepare the body physically through relaxing the muscles and sinews it can also assist to relax the mind and spirit, supporting the mother to surrender and let go of any fear and anxiety as she embarks on the journey of birth.

A Shiatsu massage has a strong influence over the autonomic nervous system which can be overstimulated through stress and fear. Shiatsu, breathing and visualisation all support switching on the para sympathetic nervous system.  This allows the mother to relax her muscles, breath deeper creating more space for the baby to move further down into the pelvis. Thereby creating more pressure on the cervix thus giving the mother a greater chance of going into labour naturally. Shiatsu is an enjoyable experience allowing the mother to drop into a blissful space where she can connect with her baby, mind and body.

A Shiatsu Induction massage incorporates specific acupressure points, the same that are used in an acupuncture treatment except there are no needles used.  A Shiatsu massage is designed to balance the bodies energy systems through palpation of the meridians and stimulating specific acupressure points. The induction points are powerful in that they help to open the energy pathways of the pelvis to encourage the baby into a favourable position, they have a strong descending quality which not only help the baby to move down but also help the mother to relax, getting her out of her head and into her body releasing oxytocin the relaxing ‘birth ready’ hormone.

Natural induction Shiatsu massage can be done before or after your due date. Though it is ideal to have a few treatments leading up to birth, especially if you’re struggling with the process of letting go and feeling stressed.

Following the induction massage, it is recommended to take it easy and try to avoid activities that increase adrenaline, which could block the production of oxytocin. Though there are no guarantees you will go into labour after your treatment, massage leading up to birth will have positive effects on the mother’s wellbeing both physically and mentally.

Postnatal benefits

Shiatsu helps promote postnatal recovery by supporting abdominal and pelvic floor toning, relieving back and shoulder aches, improving circulation and lymphatic flow. 

It benefits sleep, giving space for rest and easing fatigue. Other benefits for the postnatal period include:

  • A space for the mother to be with the baby without other demands
  • Support for bonding and feeding
  • Emotional development
  • Helps mother to find equilibrium as a new mother.

To begin exploring shiatsu treatment for pregnancy, postnatal or beyond, contact us to discuss your needs.