Clary Sage – Can it be used to induce labour?

I love the smell of clary sage, and I know when I am having a bad time during my period this is the oil I will grab to help me out a little. In saying this, I am always cautious when using it because it is very powerful and can be quite overwhelming if used in large quantities.

Clary Sage is a plant native to Italy, Syria and Southern France and grows in dry soil. The essential oil is distilled from the flowers and flowering tips.

Clary Sage flowers

Clary Sage flowers

Clary Sage is such a versatile oil with a high concentration of esters and has many properties such as anticolvulsant, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, nerve tonic, sedative, and warming. 

Some users have actually had the sensation of feeling “high” after using clary sage.

This oil is now widely used before and during labour.

Many are told that they can use clary sage to induce labour. Clary sage cannot be used to induce labour unless your body is ready to go into labour. Nothing can induce labour until your body is ready, unless of course you have a medical induction, and even then they are known to fail, causing distress in both mum and baby, which then may lead to other interventions or caesareans.

What clary sage does do is help you to have more effective contractions once you do start having them as it relaxes the mind, body and muscles.  This is what is needed for mums to go into labour in the first place – eliminating catecholamines (adrenaline) and stimulating endorphins and oxytocin. By using the clary sage for relaxing and calming the mind, body and muscles you are more inclined to go into labour spontaneously.

This wonderful essential oil facilitates birth and helps breathing by calming the lower part of the spinal cord and the nervous system. 

It helps labour to progress well when you put a few drops on your labour focus points (see diagram below).  

It can also be used to reduce pain and aid in circulation.

pregnant belly

It is recommended that Clary Sage only be used from 37 weeks onwards just in case your body is in danger of going into premature labour.  It may stimulate the release of oxytocin; therefore it is highly recommended for use during labour to help contractions to intensify and become more effective in pulling up the horizontal uterine muscles to open the cervix and move baby down into the pelvis and into the birth canal.  

The simplest and most common way to use Clary Sage during labour is to put a few drops onto a dry cloth or flannel and mum will inhale the aroma when she needs it to help herself become more calm and relaxed during contractions.  

You can also add a few drops of clary sage to the inner ankle on the labour focus points (Spleen 6 – SP6) to help stimulate the contractions and to ensure that the labour is progressing well.

Spleen 6 (SP6) Labour Focus Point

Spleen 6 (SP6) Labour Focus Point

Another effective way to use Clary Sage essential oil is to put a few drops onto a couple of cotton balls and put them under your pillow.  The aroma will eventually make its way through to your olfactory system and will have many benefits such as relaxation, reducing muscle tension, calming the nerves and increase effectiveness of contractions of the uterus.

Massage with clary sage can also be really calming. Make up a massage oil using 20 drops of Clary Sage oil in 50ml carrier oil and massage gently around the abdomen, hips, lower back and pelvis.  This blend can be rubbed onto the feet and palms of women in labour or if they are waiting to go into labour.  This is a great way of introducing the oil into the body. 

Clary Sage oil can also be added to a bath for a relaxing soak, although not into your birthing water as baby’s skin is very sensitive and most baby’s are born with their eyes open, so I wouldn’t recommend putting any essential oils into your birthing pool.

Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Hypnobirthing Centre WA

When using clary sage essential oils during labour and birth, this can also aid in releasing the placenta, so the mum should continue breathing in clary sage.

Some caution should be taken when using clary sage, and my best advice is to never take clary sage orally as has been suggested recently in some forums I have been on.

Always remember, every woman is different and what works for one, may not work for the next.

Essential oils that form a beautiful synergy for massage during labour and birth are: 

  • Rose is a uterine relaxant and helps the ligaments to soften, enabling the pelvic bones to expand, and also to regain elasticity after the birth. 
  • Neroli works on the nervous system and facilitates easy breathing, especially during labour.  Its calming effect increases the oxygen supply to the blood and brain and helps the woman to avoid hyperventilation. 
  • Lavender helps to stimulate circulation and has a very calming effect on the mother. 
  • Clary Sage is highly regarded as a uterine tonic and used to promote calming while stimulating the uterine muscles and provides pain relief.
Labour Essential Oils by Phoenix Therapies

Labour Essential Oils by Phoenix Therapies

For more information about using essential oils safely during pregnancy, labour and birth, please sign up to our mailing list on the right hand side of our website to receive your free eBook.

My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a pregnancy massage specialist, hypnobirthing doula, aromatherapist, hypnotherapist and childbirth educator at Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness located in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia.

You can contact me on (08) 9303 9111 or email vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au and my website is www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

 

Hypnobirthing Story of Lachlan – born 15th April 2014

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On the morning of the 15th April 2014, I went into natural labour with my first baby at 5 days past his guess date.  At 5.00am I woke to go to the loo, and had my show.  I knew this could happen days before labour so tried not to get too excited!  However at 7.00am my waters broke and it was as in the movies… a big rush!  I knew that I had to get labour going within 24 hours to avoid being induced, so I hopped in the shower, got dressed and hubby Jarret and I took the dogs for a walk.  I was getting Braxton Hicks quite regularly, but they were nothing more than a light tightening sensation.

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Once home, I got onto my fit ball and started doing hip rotations.  At 10.00am I started to feel light surges and by 10.30am I knew I was officially in labour!  The surges started at 4 minutes apart and quickly got closer and closer together.  They were not painful at all… in fact it is hard to describe the feeling. It was more like intensity and a tightening in my lower tummy.  I practiced my surge breathing and listened to my hypnobirthing music and Surge of the Sea relaxation and visualisation CD, which I really felt worked well for me!

My whole body remained loose and limp… it looked like I was fast asleep most of the time.  I decided to hop into the bath to relax, listening to my affirmations, which kept me very relaxed and calm.

My husband timed the surges, and by 12 noon they were 2 minutes apart.  He suggested we get ready to go into the Birth Centre, however I was unsure as I was expecting things to get far more intense before having to go in.  I wanted to avoid being sent back home, and they were so completely manageable that I really didn’t believe I was ready to go.

The midwife told us we needed to come in ASAP, so we packed our things and got to the Centre at 1.00pm.  I continued listening to the affirmations in the car to avoid slowing my labour with a change of environment and this seemed to work well!

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Once at the Birth Centre, I agreed to be examined.  I was already 8cm dilated!  I could not believe it!  I hopped into the bath around 1.30 pm, and relaxed to my hypnobirthing music, practicing my breathing and sipping on water.  At around 3.15 pm I felt I was ready to bear down, and my body started doing this automatically without me even trying.  I told the midwives and they encouraged me to work with my body.  As he moved down the birth canal, the midwives kept asking me if I felt a burning sensation but I didn’t feel a thing.  About 45 minutes later, at 3.56 pm, our baby boy Lachlan was born.

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I pulled him out myself which was incredibly empowering.  Apart from being checked when I first arrived, I had no one touch me my entire labour.  It was amazing!

When I pulled Lachlan out of the water, his heart rate dropped and they had to cut the cord straight away.  He gave out a little squeak, but he was not breathing so they had to take him away to give him oxygen.  I hopped out of the bath and started hemorrhaging and lost 850mls of blood in a very short space of time.  I was so in my ‘hypnobirthing zone’ that I was completely unphased by what was happening.

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I felt for my poor hubby who was in a state as he did not know who to go with!  I was so calm and relaxed that I told him to go with Lachlan.  He began breathing fine, but they needed to monitor him for a couple of hours to make sure he was all ok.  My bleeding stopped on its own (they think I had a burst vessel from the placenta coming away from my uterus), but I also needed a couple of stitches.

Once baby and I had both been sorted out, they brought him to me and placed him on my chest and he started breastfeeding straight away!  He was very alert from the get go, and is a very relaxed and calm baby.  He feeds like a little champion too!

My labour was such a breeze, and such a wonderful experience.  I used to be so fearful of labour, but hypnobirthing really enabled me to work with my body and have a wonderful pain free experience!  Many people do not believe me when I tell them that it was so wonderful, and I didn’t even need so much as a Panadol.

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I cannot recommend hypnobirthing enough!  I will also say that part of it was due to very healthy eating before and during pregnancy, as well as me being very fit before falling pregnant and keeping up with exercise throughout my pregnancy.  I don’t think my labour would have been nearly as quick and easy if I was not fit and healthy.

Thank you to my hypnobirthing practitioner Vicki Hobbs from Hypnobirthing Centre WA for being such a great support and resource!

To see a short video of me during my surges and leading up to Lachlan being born, please click on the video link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giYkYTaTYeM&feature=youtu.be

Kerry-lee & Jarret
Tapping, WA

Hypnobirthing Story of Aryan – born 5th March 2014

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First of all I would like to thank Vicki Hobbs from the Hypnobirthing Centre WA for helping me release my fear of birthing and to also help me think positive all the way about everything – my pregnancy, my labour, the surges I would experience and moving my baby down.  I was one person who was so scared of just thinking about the due day, every time I thought of it I’d get goose bumps and all sorts of questions would arise in my mind such as “will I be able to do it”, if I can’t tolerate my eye brows being threaded how will I tolerate pain of birth?

Vicki helped me release this fear through the classes and gave me one on one attention when I really needed it, which I am so grateful to her for.  After the hypnobirthing classes, which I completed when I was 38 weeks everything was still fresh and I prepared my own birthing plan.  Jag and I compiled songs that we both loved and reminded us of the special memories we shared and holidays that we went to.  I printed my maternity photo shoot which had my birthing colours to help me calm down and focus.  Along with these songs I also had my positive affirmations, Surge of the Sea and Rainbow Mist CD’s, which were very helpful.

Dhruti & Jag

On Tuesday midnight I woke up with slight surges that lasted for a few seconds and then went away – they were about 15 minutes apart and not very regular.  I fell asleep and woke up around 8am as my friends were coming over to catch up before the bub arrives.  I went to the loo and saw my mucous plug had released, I thought to myself “this is it, oh my god its happening, what shall I do.”  I was panicking and told my mum, but then I gathered myself and thought I might still be days away and even if it happens it’s going to be okay and I will use my tools, stay calm and birth my baby.

I text my friends that I wasn’t well and if we could postpone the catch up, but then I thought to myself that if I was to be alone I’d be thinking all sorts of things so I’d rather catch up with them, which will be relaxing and divert my mind.  I text Jag and informed him, he was so excited that he couldn’t work and decided to come home and sleep for the big night as he was so sure that it was going to happen that evening.

I decided not to tell my friends about my surges and just go with the flow.  Mum and I made lunch, my friends came over and the day was going as normal, but I did have surges in between that sometimes lasted a minute or so, I would just stay calm and breathe through the surges.  At one point my friend did ask me “are you ok? Why are you so quiet?”

The day passed by quickly and in the evening my surges increased and Jag started timing them, and I was just breathing through them while listening to the affirmations.  I kept watching the YouTube video of the lotus opening as the music in the video helped to calm me down. It was around 11pm that the surges started getting closer and more intense.  Jag would stroke me with the light touch massage and help me stay calm.

16. Birth Colours - Dhruti Varsani

After a few hours we decided to call the hospital and inform them about the situation.  Jag and I decided that we’d go to the hospital when the surges were 5-7 minutes apart. By 1am the surges were more intense and we decided it was time.

We reached the hospital and informed the midwife we were a hypnobirthing couple and that all the communications to be kept to a minimum and with Jag.  First we were in the assessment room so that midwife could check my progress, monitor bubs heart beat and do a few tests.  I noticed that the surges were now 10-15 minutes apart, which I was aware that would probably happen because of the environment change and the transition between home and hospital.  I calmed down, Jag was so supportive and gave me the light touch massage again, talked to me softly and I also kept listening to the affirmations.

I must say hypnobirthing helped Jag understand me so much more.  He always had the fear of coming to the hospital and having to see me in so much pain, but he was so different and positive and very supportive.  After about an hour my obstetrician came and they decided to check how many centimetres dilated I was.  This was very uncomfortable for some reason.  I just had my eyes covered and kept listening to my music.  I didn’t want to know how many centimetres I was so they informed Jag.  Earlier in the week I went for my check up with my obstetrician and she had informed me that the baby’s head was down but he was in a lateral position.  The midwife checked and informed me that the position was now head down and no longer lateral, which gave me confidence that everything was going well.

Aryan4 - Dhruti & Jag

After a while we were taken to the birth suite and the moment I walked in I felt some comfort.  I knew this was now “my space.”  Jag set up the room with candle lights, dimmed the room lights, set the music up and got me a birthing ball.  This was around 4am on Wednesday morning and the surges were constant and about 7-9 minutes apart.  We listened to our songs that we had compiled, I had my arms across his shoulders and we just enjoying the music and I continued to breathe through the surges.  Time was distorted to me, just like I was taught in hypnobirthing classes, as then the next thing I realised it was around 9pm and I was getting tired as I hadn’t slept.  I had another check up with the obstetrician and she said that I was still quite far off and asked if I wanted to be induced as the baby was head down but quite high and in a lateral position again.  We weren’t sure and decided to wait for a while, but after about two hours I agreed to be induced.

Being vocal was the best thing that helped me as I could release the intensity I was feeling through my voice.  Jag stroked my head with the head massager and light touch massage while the music in the background was on as well.  All these tools were so very helpful.  My obstetrician came for another check-up and asked if I wanted an epidural.  I said no, but I was so exhausted as I hadn’t slept for 2 days.  Jag and I then talked about it and he said it would relax me and I could get some sleep as the baby’s position was still lateral and he was still very high.

Aryan2 - Dhruti & Jag

I decided to take the epidural and slept for a while.  I could still feel the surges but not as intense as before.  After an hour our midwife checked how far I had dilated.  I was so happy and excited as I was 10cms dilated and it was time to bear down.  I started to bear down and was told to push whenever I had a surge.  I could slightly feel them and with the help of my midwife and obstetrician I started to push.

I kept talking to my baby loudly (I didn’t care about anyone listening to me), I kept telling him “come on we can do this, please come to mummy it’s now time for mummy to see you.”  I kept touching my belly and talking out loudly and I felt it helped me connect with my baby.  My obstetrician and Jag then decided to use the vacuum, which I was fine with as the baby was getting uncomfortable inside as well.

We started again, using the vacuum but it still did not work, the baby was now more uncomfortable and my obstetrician suggested we use forceps.  I have no idea why I said no but something in me just didn’t want this type of intervention to be used.  So I was taken to theatre for a caesarean.

Aryan1 - Dhruti & Jag

While transferring me to the theatre room I was very positive and kept singing to myself.  I talked to the nurses and doctors who came to explain all the procedures that were going to happen.  After about 35 hours it was finally time to see our baby.  Our baby boy Aryan was born at 5.15pm – the most beautiful and amazing moment of our lives.

My obstetrician later thanked me and told me that she was glad I said no to using the forceps as it would have been very hard for both bub and me had we used them as he was still so high up because of the position of my pelvis so he would not have been able to move down into the birth canal and the caesarean had been the best decision in this instance.

Though I had a few complications after the birth, after a month when I do recall my birthing story I have a smile on my face and always tell myself it was the most wonderful experience I have ever had.  It is so true that people make labour and birthing of babies these days very complicated, painful and scary but there is also another way to look at it and enjoy it, the hypnobirthing way.

Aryan3 - Dhruti & Jag

I have no regret with what I went through, even though it was a long labour, but it was still full of fun and beautiful memories that I will cherish forever.  I got to experience labour, the sensations of my uterus surging and the feel of my baby during this time while producing the birthing hormones that helped to establish good breastfeeding and bonding, and I had no fear at all.  This whole experience has brought my husband and I so much closer, and he was able to support me in a way that he wouldn’t have felt confident doing before the classes. I am so proud to share my hypnobirthing story with all pregnant women and once again would like to thank Vicki for sharing her knowledge with us.  Without hypnobirthing my birthing story and experience would definitely have been very different.

Dhruti & Jag
Madeley, WA

Pregnancy Massage – Is It Safe?

The popularity and education of prenatal massage has increased significantly over the past few decades.

In tribal cultures, prenatal and labour support massage was common.  Anthropologist George Engelmann documented these techniques in the mid 1880’s; however the first documentation of labour massage was in 15th century England.  It was common practice for midwives to use massage while the mother was in labour to make her more comfortable and to relieve pain.

tribal women

The elder women of the Nama Hottentot tribe of South Africa give massage treatments to the pregnant women of the tribe several times a week to prepare for the upcoming childbirth.  In Uganda, pregnant mothers receive massage daily in an effort to make their muscles and joints supple for an easier labour and delivery.

Women in tribal societies resume their normal everyday activities almost immediately after giving birth.  Among the natural methods used to restore strength and decrease post-partum depression in the new mum, the most important and widely accepted tradition is massage.

tribal massage

In our medically advanced society, massage can often be over-looked as an important part of pregnancy health care.  However, this tried and tested tradition is one of the oldest forms of the healing arts and has been used for thousands of years in almost every culture.

Every pregnant woman deserves some pampering and massage is a wonderful way to reduce stress and promote general wellbeing.  Massage can be received during all three trimesters of your pregnancy for both normal and high risk pregnancies.

With the exciting news that you are pregnant, your body is about to undergo stress-producing changes.  Some of the consequences of these changes can leave a woman feeling sore, tired and uncomfortable.  Massage is therefore a great way to relieve this discomfort through the positive effects of soft tissue manipulation.

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Pregnancy Massage therapy helps the body adjust to accommodate the life growing within.  It can assist in reducing stress, encourage relaxation and prepare muscles and joints for childbirth.  Not only can this be a treat for you, but a much needed therapy to ease some of the aches and pains experienced during pregnancy.

It has been claimed that during the first trimester, pregnant women should not have massage as it may cause miscarriage, however if the pregnant woman is healthy and proper guidelines for working with pregnant women are followed, then there is absolutely no medical evidence to support that a massage could harm the pregnancy or cause miscarriage.  Most times this myth is circulated by the very ones who should not be doing pregnancy massage as they are not qualified to do so.

Just recently the Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT) has announced after completing their own research that pregnancy massage during the first trimester is considered safe “if undertaken by a trained pregnancy massage specialist.”

Here is a recent article about this breakthrough in pregnancy massage during the first trimester:

http://pregnancymassageaustralia.com.au/break-understanding-first-trimester-massage/

Probably the main reason for not getting massage in the first three months is more about comfort as it may trigger dizziness or increase your morning sickness – on the other hand it may eliminate these symptoms.  You won’t know until you try it and then you can let your therapist know if you start to feel uncomfortable and adjustments can be made or you can just stop the treatment.

Remember, there is no danger, just the potential to be uncomfortable.

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The most important thing to consider with pregnancy massage is using a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist who has had specialised training in pregnancy massage and knows the anatomy and physiology of a pregnant woman.  Just being a massage therapist doesn’t mean that they are qualified to give massage to pregnant and postpartum women.  Be cautious that just because a brochure offers pregnancy massage, it doesn’t always mean that they are qualified to do so.

It is essential to ask any questions or raise any concerns you may have to your therapist at any time during the treatment.  A professional pregnancy massage will always start with a minimum fifteen minute consultation prior to actually having a massage each and every time you attend.  You should be asked specific questions about the progress of your pregnancy, your current condition, your antenatal appointments and specific areas of discomfort and range of motion checks.

A trained pregnancy massage therapist will safely and effectively answer any questions you may have about having a massage during any stage of your pregnancy.  We also do not recommend the tables with the hole where the belly hangs down, as this puts so much more pressure on the sacrum, lower back and can strain the ligaments around the uterus and pelvis, not to mention your growing breasts which may be tender or uncomfortable.  Just imagine all that weight of your baby in your womb, just hanging down with the force of gravity – while your therapist is also then creating more pressure during the massage with the massage techniques (or not effectively working through this area so they don’t put more pressure there), so then your glute (bum) muscles are tensing trying to overcompensate for the pressure created in your back.  The best position during pregnancy massage is in a side-lying position, with your top leg at a 90 degree angle supported by a bolster under your leg and knees stabilising the hip joint, along with your top foot also being supported, not just hanging down at the edge of the bolster. Support cushions will also be used to stabilise your body to prevent you from rocking or rolling from side to side.

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Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in pregnancy, induction, labour and postnatal massage.

Vicki is a highly trained pregnancy massage specialist having completed the Diploma in Pregnancy Massage course in 2013 with Pregnancy Massage Australia.  This training is an advanced level of training for pregnancy massage, but also specialising in working with high risk pregnancy clients such as those with pre-eclampsia and other conditions such as pubis symphysis separation, pelvic girdle pain, lower back and hip pain, injuries and other pregnancy related dysfunctions.

She also holds a Diploma in Pregnancy Massage & Maternity Care after training in 2008 with Suzanne Yates, who is a well-known author, shiatsu practitioner, midwife and the Director of the Well Mother Centre in the UK. www.wellmother.org

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Vicki has expert knowledge and training of the anatomy and physiology of the pregnant body, stretching during pregnancy, labour position techniques and massage instruction for your partner.  She is also a Certified Birthing Assistant (Doula) and Childbirth Educator and conducts regular “Essential Birthing Journey” workshops for pregnant women.  Vicki is passionate about sharing her knowledge as a Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner having been trained in this method earlier this year and also in the Mongan Method (originally in November 2009 and then completed a refresher in November 2012).

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In addition to this, my insurance company specifically covers me for pregnancy massage, not just remedial massage, which further ensures that all strict training criteria and guidelines have been met for your own peace of mind.

As with most therapies, there are always precautions involved with receiving treatment during pregnancy, however pregnancy massage (when performed by a trained and experienced therapist) is a safe procedure with benefits far outweighing the risks.

For your own peace of mind, you can even discuss with your medical practitioner or obstetrician of your intention to have a pregnancy massage, and they will advise you if they feel that you should not do so for whatever reason.

BENEFITS OF PREGNANCY MASSAGE

The benefits of massage in general are numerous, however more specifically for pregnancy they include:

  • Relief from muscle cramps, tension, spasms;
  • Relief from pain especially in the lower back, neck, hips and legs;
  • Reduction of stress on weight bearing joints;
  • Improvement of muscle tone;
  • Dilate the blood vessels, therefore improving blood circulation including the placenta, which brings greater nutrition to the tissues of the body and enhances waste removal;
  • The lymphatic system circulates faster and more efficiently which results in more energy and less fatigue and helps to reduce swelling;
  • May help with the reduction of varicose veins;
  • Stimulates glandular secretions which will stabilise your hormonal levels and reduce their side effects;
  • Enhancement of elasticity and pliability of skin and connective tissue (ligaments and tendons);
  • Helping with sleeplessness or insomnia;
  • Increased range of flexibility and movement and become less prone to injury;
  • Helps to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety, which is also transferred to your baby to help them feel more relaxed and soothed;
  • Prepares the muscles and tissues used during labour and birth.

Many of the problems that arise during pregnancy are due to muscle strain, weakness and poor posture.  Proper exercise and appropriate stretching will increase your energy, strengthen the muscles most strained during pregnancy and labour, stimulate circulation and increase flexibility in the joints.

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Here is a great testimonial from one of our regular pregnancy massage clients:

“I would recommend Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre to anybody.  I first heard about them in an advertisement in the local magazine Offspring.  I was 24 weeks pregnant, working 25-35 hours a week in a busy café and was starting to feel a little tense in my lower back.  I decided to treat myself to a massage but I was a little nervous about having a massage while pregnant so I did some reading on the internet and Facebook which helped me to make a decision.

Vicki and Sarah are very professional and welcoming and I felt comfortable in their abilities almost instantly.  The bodyCushion that they use is so comfortable and supportive.  Pregnancy massage was such a great way for me to relax (body and mind) before the arrival of my baby. I continued to work right up to 36 weeks (3 weeks before baby was born) having a massage every 2 weeks or so definitely helped me stay very active during my pregnancy especially towards the end. I look forward to going back for a massage without my big belly!

Thank you Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre”
Laura

MORE INFORMATION

For more information or to book a pregnancy massage contact Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre, which is now located from my lovely home in Landsdale (the northern suburbs of Perth).

My details are (08) 9303 9111 or check the website www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

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