Anne Stanton 3/2/09
Some women love being pregnantothers arent so crazy about it. After all, hormones can make you hot and crabby. Your joints get sloppy, your belly gets tight, your feet swell, and the baby throws off your center of gravity, putting pressure on your back, neck and belly muscles.
For all these reasons, Lisa Wamsley loves her specialty of maternity massage. Moms-to-be are just so genuinely thankful to get a reprieve from their discomfort.
Every woman should try itit will make them feel better. Its hard to take the time, and with the economy the way it is, you might not think its worth it. But in the long run, it helps your body get through a tough time in a noninvasive, non-medical way, she said.
Wamsleys clients have included women from all different backgrounds, pregnant with singles, twins and even triplets.
Wamsley looks like a woman who does maternity massage with a warm, easy-going personality to match. She came naturally to massage, starting with her family, then her friends, and then in 1996, a girlfriend, who was pregnant, who she was afraid to even touch at first. That friend was Marjie Rich.
I did the massage through Marjies pregnancy and then through labor. I was in the delivery room and doing massage while the baby was being born. That changed the course of my life. It was the most amazing thing,
The coupleRich is married to Dr. Roger Gerstleloaned Wamsley the tuition money she needed to attend the Health Enrichment Center in Lapeer, where she graduated in 1998.
Their hearts are just huge. I get teary just thinking about what they did for me, she said.
Wamsley did additional classes for pregnancy massage, as well as Doula training, so she could be more knowledgeable in the massage studio and the delivery room.
Im there to act as a support person. But each woman knows what her body needs. I want my back rubbed, I want my head rubbed. I want more water. Im all over the place, holding their hands, getting them ice, or rubbing their husbands shoulders because hes freaking out.
Studies show that just having a another woman in the delivery room decreases the pain and duration of labor. The hospital staff doesnt have the time to get emotionally involved. You need to have someone there just for you.
Wamsley said its important to choose your pregnancy massage therapist carefullySomeone might spend 10 minutes going over pregnancy massage in massage school, then say theyre certified.
INTUITION AND SCIENCE
During the massage, Wamsley is careful not to touch the babyits an area she considers too fragile. Instead she focuses on the areas that are most affected by pregnancy.
I work the glute muscles and hip rotatorsas the joints loosen and get sloppy, the muscles respond by tightening to try and keep it all together and to maintain postural integrity. The massage helps the muscles to release; then I do a hip reset to stabilize the pelvisa quick lift technique. Then everything kind of falls back to where it needs to be. It helps with sciatica and hip pain.
To help with swelling, I begin at the tips of the fingers and stroke toward the heart to get the edema back to the lymph system. Its really a blend of intuition and science, she said.
On the science side, the increase of blood circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to the soft tissues and to the baby. The massage can also help lower blood pressure and stress-related hormones, not to mention leaving the mom-to-be feeling more flexible.
Doctors in the area will sometimes refer an overdue woman to Wamsley, who is familiar with the trigger points above the ankle bone that can be touched to stimulate contractions.
It doesnt always work, but a lot of times it does. Some of the women had babies within 48 hours, but its hard to say whether it was the massage. There are four points above the ankles. When I find the right spot, wow, we both know it. Its a zinger, she said.
Massage also helps after a pregnancy when a woman might be feeling blue or isolated and needs some TLC. As the baby gets bigger, she can stress out her back by carrying him around on just one side.
Rosa Breneman in Traverse City said the benefits of a massage lasts far longer than the one hour in the room. The after-bliss fades, but the memory stays and thats what she draws on during the stress of everyday life.
I take a few minutes to regroup by focusing on that feeling of serenity, she said.
Breneman has gone to Wamsley for eight years, including a pregnancy for her son.
I go at least once a month, and I stick with it, and it helps me stay grounded. I tell you, it definitely helps me be more at peace with myself, more in a restful state. Im able to put everything else aside for one hour; I can concentrate on myself. And its funny because theres a point in the massage, it just reaches a quiet time, a mutual understanding where we are both quiet and reflective. You dont talk, and really not even think. She kind of knows when I just need to focus and not think about anything.
To contact Maternity Massage, call 922-7133.