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

 

How does smell play such an important role in bonding with your baby?

 The Unique Connection between mother and child - does it exist? 

Photo source: Pandora - Unique Connection

Photo source: Pandora – Unique Connection

I loved watching the video which has gone viral on social media. It has everyone talking about how clever the children are to find their mums, and it got me thinking about how so many couples don’t understand the importance of that skin-on-skin bonding that occurs immediately after birth, but not only that, the pre-bonding that is being created during pregnancy that brings that beautiful connection to mother, father and baby (and of course siblings as well).

Here is the video showing children being blindfolded and asked to find their mother in a line-up of women.  All the children were able to locate their mother through touch, smell and I believe their unique energy.

The Unique Connection – video created by Pandora

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRoqk_z2Lgg

Today, evidence has shown the importance of smell in the bonding process of newborn mothers and babies.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

One thing that has come to light recently is this whole new procedure of putting hats on newborn babies.  It was thought that it was better to hat babies so they didn’t lose heat through their head, but now it is evident that mothers keep their babies warm and regulate their temperature through that skin-on-skin contact and by not having a hat on baby this allows mums to smell their babies from head to toe taking in their babies pheromones more easily. 

As babies are feeding from the breast it is natural for the mum to lean down and smell the top of her baby’s head, but with a hat on, this is then a wasted opportunity for bonding even deeper.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Back in the “olden days” they didn’t put hats on newborn babies. The baby was born then given immediately to mothers to be held and kept warm and fed. There was that belief that women trusted their body and their own ability to birth then nurture their baby – it all came down to mothers instincts.

This is bonding.

The mother takes in the smell and feel of their baby.

Baby also gets wired to the smell and touch and sounds of the mother.

This bonding also begins before baby is even born.

During pregnancy a baby will become connected to the mother not only in a physical sense though the umbilical cord to the placenta attached to the uterine wall of the mother, but also connected energetically and spiritually.  The baby comes to identify the sounds of mother and father and in fact when they are born they are more inclined to move towards the sound of their mother or fathers voice even when in a room full of people.

It is important to be aware that whatever the mother feels that energy is then transferred through to her baby.

If she is stressed and upset she is releasing stress hormones that cross the placenta through to her baby and likewise if mum is experiencing great joy and pleasure that produces endorphins (the feel good healing hormones of the body) which also cross to her baby.

In Dr Sarah Buckley’s book “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” she writes:

“The experiences that will begin to fire and wire your baby’s brain start in your womb, with the physical sensations that provide the earliest learning. These include being physically supported by the womb and amniotic fluid, being kept warm by your body warmth, being gently rocked as you walk, being exposed to different tastes from your diet via the amniotic fluid, hearing your voice and voices of other family members, and feeling calm and settled when you are calm and settled. Conversely, high levels of stress during pregnancy can fire and wire your baby’s brain for dysfunctions in learning and over-reactivity to stress.” 

Dr. Sarah Buckley

Dr. Sarah Buckley

 A mother and her partner creates this amazing bond with baby in utero by so many every day activities such as humming, singing, reading, relaxing while rubbing belly, talking to baby and visualising what your baby looks like, or playing with baby when they kick by poking them back gently – you will soon discover this becomes “play time” between you and your baby.

A wonderful way to share your pregnancy with your baby as they are growing up is to take photos and videos during your pregnancy, during your play time and at certain milestones of your pregnancy and creating a “Bonding With Baby Book” where you can sit and share these images with your child as they get older.  This is a fantastic way to bond with children or in particular soothe them when they are sad or upset, as it becomes “your time” for reflection and quality time together. 

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

So let’s look at how all this bonding and connection takes place.

The journal “Neurolmage” suggests that we are instinctively wired for bonding with our babies and the sight and smell of newborns triggers a deep seated response to care for that child.

It is interesting to note that scientists have also found that when a woman gives birth, the father actually grows more neuron connections in certain areas of the brain (prefrontal cortex) which is involved in caretaking and bonding.  When they become fathers the receptors for the chemical vasopressin increase, which is related to nurturing and attachment. 

Dads can have just as strong attachment / bonding as mother as a recent study showed oxytocin levels rise equally in both new mum and dad.

It also appears that babies are born with a brain that expects this bond to form in the first place.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

 Another study funded by the National Institute of Health and conducted by the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation claims that “Infants can learn from their mothers about potential environment threats before their sensory and motor development allows them a comprehensive exploration of the surrounding environment.”  What this means is that the experiences or traumas that a mother has during pregnancy can be passed on to her baby including any stimulus such as smell, which then causes that child to experience distress and anxiety or in some cases post-traumatic stress syndrome, when they smell that smell after birth, without having ever experienced that trauma directly themselves.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

That close physical contact at birth with skin on skin starts the powerful process of bonding between mother and baby. The baby also receives smells from the mums’ nipples, which attracts baby to that area, to instinctively start breastfeeding – creating the beautiful display of the “breast crawl.”

Take a look at this video created by www.breastcrawl.org demonstrating the breast crawl of newborn baby to mother’s breast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3oPb4WdycE#t=15

Babies will recognise the milk from their own mother over the milk from another lactating mother. Skin-on-skin contact helps to imprint all the olfactory stimulus of the mother to the baby and vice versa, providing that security of being able to identify each other when they separated – this is the “imprinting” process which is part of our evolution.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

In one experiment, researchers tested newborns by holding a pad carrying maternal odours 17cm from the baby’s nose. In response, the babies wriggled towards the pad that contains the scent of their own mother.

A recent study also showed that 90% of mothers who were left to bond with their baby uninterrupted for a minimum of one hour were able to identify their baby through smell alone.

My suggestion is rather than baby being brought straight up to mums chest at birth for skin-on-skin contact, baby is placed on mums stomach, so that mum has the opportunity to have time to take in the look, the feel and the smell of her baby.  Baby also gets the opportunity to connect with mum on the outside and will start to smell the breast milk and by using the breast crawl technique will instinctively forage their way to the breast and start suckling, increasing the release of oxytocin for the placenta to be birthed and the mother to embrace her new role as a newborn mother.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

So now go and pick up your baby, hold your baby close, skin-to-skin and breathe in slowly to take your fill of pheromones and enjoy that beautiful connection for life.

My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a pregnancy and postnatal massage specialist at Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness. I am also a certified doula and offer hypnobirthing and childbirth education classes. For more details about my services, please call me on (08) 9303 9111 or email vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

Thank you to all my beautiful hypnobirthing families who have shared their amazing photos for this article.

Resources:

http://www.livescience.com/19108-baby-love-human-brain.html

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1651-2227.2004.tb00856.x/abstract

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/26/22/5888.full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15841774

http://www.newsweek.com/mothers-fears-are-passed-children-through-smell-study-suggests-261754

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20453850

http://www.nature.com/pr/journal/v21/n4s/abs/pr1987171a.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55973/

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/518

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-brains-of-our-fathers/

http://www.parentingscience.com/newborn-senses.html

http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/26/why-moms-find-that-new-baby-smell-so-delicious/

http://www.breastcrawl.org/introduction.shtml

 

What got me through an affair, marriage breakdown, divorce, death and more? These techniques are so simple you won’t believe it….

Sometimes our lives can be so full on that everything seems stressful, when just a few simple techniques can provide a very effective way of releasing stress and learning the art of relaxation.

Everything from work, family life, children, partners, day to day hassles, finances, life events and noise can produce stressors that cause many changes inside our minds and bodies and everyone handles stress and anxiety in different ways.

zebra

What some feel as mild stress in others can seem extreme – we are all different, we are all individuals with our own set of thought patterns, beliefs and responses.

What gives us the motivation to change our current situation?

My professional career started out relatively calm, and then I moved into executive roles where I had a lot of responsibility, deadlines, long hours and the crème de la crème….working with difficult and demanding people. Then I went on to work for “not for profit” where I was working with an organisation that was striving hard to raise money so seriously ill and dying children and their families could have a wish to brighten their lives a little.

Then throw in a couple of deaths, traumatic pregnancy, several miscarriages motherhood, my husband having an affair resulting in marriage breakdown and divorce and the heavy burden of loss, grief and soon my stress was undeniable.  

Why was I dealt this shitty hand?

What had I done to deserve so much pain, anguish and stress?

My life seemed to be spiralling out of control like one of those twirly wind chimes, spinning faster and faster as it gained momentum.

spiral windchime

I forgot about the art of relaxation. 

Is there such a beautiful piece of artwork?

A tapestry of woven magic that consoles and heals.

A paintbrush that can gloss over our stress with long soothing strokes.

Or gentle hands that mould the hard clay into a soft, smooth workable sculpture.

My love of the mind and body connection then set me on a pathway of healing to find my art of relaxation. 

I always had an interest in essential oils as my nanna taught me from a very young age a lot about different plants and their healing properties.

I then trained in massage, aromatherapy, hypnosis, meditation, stress management, life coaching and I suddenly realised that I had had to experience all those difficult times and different levels of stress to know what to do with it and how to help other people.  I was also give the opportunity to train as a “Heal Your Life” workshop facilitator based on the philosophies of Louise Hay and that was one of the most positive life changing events I was blessed to participate in.

Over the last 20 years my life has taken many twists and turns – too many to share in this article.  Recently though I had the doors of my beautiful wellness clinic closed as I couldn’t pay the rent – the last 12 months have been incredibly stressful having to deal with shopping centre politics, the exorbitant increase in rents and outgoings, staff and contractors and the everyday stresses of running a business and the “noise” – however if I didn’t use some of the techniques that I have learned along the way that I teach to others, I probably would be far worse off mentally, physically and emotionally than I am right now.

However, like always I do see a light at the end of the tunnel (or rather a neon flashing beacon) and as one door closes another one then opens and with it is the dawning and realisation that I actually got what I wanted.  The mist of the clouds were swept away from my head and now I am making new choices and stressing less.

It makes me think back to a unique piece of artwork that I picked up while travelling through Europe by Salvador Dali called “Dali’s Hand Drawing Back The Golden Fleece In The Form of a Cloud To Show Gala the Naked Dawn Far Away Behind The Sun.” (1977)

Salvador Dali

Now I have released and let go all anger, guilt and stress surrounding the closure of my beautiful clinic, and I realise I wanted those doors to close so that I could go back to basics and do the things that I loved doing before I opened those doors.  I want to spend more time and energy with the women who come to me and I want to feel that connection once again.

I wanted to find my “paintbrush” once again.

I wanted to just BE with the person I am working with in a healing capacity.

AND, I really do miss just BEING with the person I am working with – sharing their energy, their light source, their connection – and I realise that somehow my little clinic had drained that away from me.

The Universe blocked all attempts I made to keep those doors open.

My motivation for keeping the doors open was more about not wanting to hurt others, but in the meantime it was hurting me.

Live Your Dreams created by Sofan Chan

Live Your Dreams created by Sofan Chan

I am now practising what I preach…I am walking the walk that I talk.

I am being authentic.

My energy and motivation has increased.

I feel lighter yet stronger.

My mind is active again in a positive way.

I am meditating more and blaming less.

I am releasing and letting go.

I am honouring forgiveness.

I am visualising more and using positive affirmations again.

I am managing my time in a more efficient way.

I am saying no to things that do not serve me well.

Sacred Moment, Sofan Chan

Sacred Moment
Sofan Chan

I am connecting with those that I am working with in my little treatment room at home, where I feel safe, comfortable and free.

And the chatter in my mind is quiet.

That quiet is the releasing of my stress.

The “noise” is gone.

I acknowledge the stress and I am setting it free.

I have found my paintbrush, my tapestry, my clay.

Carpe Diem is my endless canvas.

My relaxation and stress releasing techniques have helped me once again to “seize the day.”

Life loves me as I am worth loving!

Whatever is going on in your mind, is affecting your body.

Do you want to find your paintbrush, your tapestry or your slab of clay?

Join me at my Carpe Diem Nurturing Workshop.

Together, we will find your Art of Relaxation and enjoy a day of soul-nourishing enrichment that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Hd-Ocean-Backgrounds-4-561x376

For more information click on the link:-

http://phoenixtherapies.com.au/wellness-centre/workshops/carpe-diem-workshop/

If you would like more specific information or you have questions about this workshop or anything else you can email me directly Vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

Carpe Diem….

 

Vicki Hobbs
Phoenix Therapies Transformational Workshops
Phone: (08) 9303 9111

Stretch Marks During Pregnancy – is there a miracle cure?

Around 70% of pregnant women develop stretch marks during pregnancy and this is due to scarring that develops in the deeper layers of the skin.  When there is a lot of stress, stretching and strain on the collagen fibres in the skin, and repetitive stress and tension in the deeper fibres (dermis) this causes the fibres to break, which then creates the marks on the surface of the skin that we know as stretch marks.

stretch marks5

Being pregnant creates that type of stress and strain on the skin, and depending on what type of collagen, elastin and skin type you have will determine whether you are more likely to get stretch marks.

Unfortunately there is no way you can prevent stretch marks, as research shows that stretch marks are hereditary, so if your mother had stretch marks during pregnancy, then the likelihood is that you will probably get stretch marks too due to your genetic makeup.

stretch marks4

However, for those who are likely to get stretch marks you can reduce the severity of them with your diet and how much weight you put on or how rapidly you put the weight on.  Stretch marks over time will eventually fade, but the texture of the marks will be permanent.

stretch marks2

Many companies out there are claiming to “cure stretch marks” and you need to be wary of spending thousands of dollars to undergo treatment that you hope will cure your stretch marks.  You may reduce the appearance of them and so maybe in these circumstances many women can regain some confidence in their body image, which is obviously a good thing, however on the other hand many women have found that it did nothing for them – my old saying “we are all individuals, what works for one person may not work for the next.”

stretch marks3

There is no miracle cure for stretch marks – no cream, lotion, potion or machine that can do that so don’t be fooled by clever marketing.  A recent study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment identified that laser treatment that was trialled on 17 women with stretch marks, over six treatments performed weekly, seemed to be effective in improving the texture and appearance of the stretch marks, however again it did not remove them completely.

Laser_Stretch_Mark_Removal

We recommend that you keep your skin hydrated by using a rich, thick cream, which will also help to stop the itchiness of the stretching skin with your growing belly or a lotion such as the well-known brand Bio-Oil, which has active ingredients to help improve the look and tone of stretch marks, however even they highlight on their website:  “Stretch marks are permanent in nature, and although Bio-Oil is formulated to help improve their appearance, it can never remove them.”

boi-oil

When you are applying cream or oil to your belly we recommend you massage it in a clockwise direction – the direction of your digestion.

phoenix-16

Drinking plenty of water will also be helpful in hydrating your body and your skin.

Now it’s time to think of your stretch marks as your “Creator Stripes” as you remind yourself and everyone else who sees them that you have earned these stripes – you are now a mother, a creator, a life long energetic connection to another human being who was created and who grew inside you, and that makes you another amazing, awesome woman of the world.

women are strong

Thank you for nurturing your babies in your bodies and bringing them into the world. What an amazing achievement!

 

Vicki Hobbs
Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre
Hypnobirthing Centre WA

 

(Disclaimer – I do not own some of the images on this page)

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.

pregnant woman1

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.

sick-woman-420x0

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.

phoenix-16

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

diploma_15539910-655x280

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).

phoenix-28

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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Are you or someone you know FIFO?

It is not uncommon for FIFO workers to come home exhausted and mentally fatigued.  We hear about the lack of affordable housing, relationship breakdowns, mental illness, under-resourced and over-stretched local services – the list goes on.

We all know that FIFO workers work exceptionally hard for long periods of time in sometimes really hot conditions and cramped accommodation.  They are away from their homes and loved ones and are exposed to stressful situations, which can contribute to poor physical health, emotional distress and significant disturbances in their sleeping patterns.

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It has now become a necessity for all FIFO workers to wind down mentally, physically and emotionally and the best way to do that is through massage using quality, pure essential oils.  Our massage includes slow, deep tissue massage techniques combined with trigger point stimulation, stretching and myofascial release.  You will experience not only the physical manual manipulation of your tight muscles, but also enjoy the quiet ambiance of your surroundings, the calming of your mind and the balancing of your emotions.

As much as it is important for FIFO workers to spend time with their loved ones when they return, it is equally as important that they have some “down time” or “me time” and having a massage in the first day or so of arriving home can be extremely beneficial in easing aches, pains and muscular discomfort, restlessness, insomnia and so many other conditions that generally affect FIFO workers.

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Furthermore, we also have to take into consideration that mum or the partner of these FIFO workers also needs to have some “down time” or “me time” particularly if they don’t have any support from an outside source while their partners are away.  Our thinking is that once the FIFO worker has had an opportunity to become “grounded” and” revitalised” that they are more likely to be in a better place and ready to take on their “home duties” and “parenting duties” in a better frame of mind.  Then it is important for mums to have some “down time” and “me time” so they too are encouraged to have massage to improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being.  This will definitely lead to better quality time together and shared appreciation in each other.

There are many ways in which the benefits of massage can improve the quality of your life.  Many people think the benefits of massage are restricted to relaxation (which in itself is hugely important!). But there are numerous other health and wellbeing benefits.

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Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include: pain relief, reduced anxiety and depression, and reduced blood pressure, heart rate. The release of endorphins and serotonin can: prevent fibrosis or scar tissue, increase the flow of lymph and improve sleep.

Relief from pain due to musculoskeletal injuries and other causes is one of the other major benefits of massage. It can also relieve tension headaches.

The benefits of massage therapy are fully integrated into the Australian health care system (via alternative and complementary medicines and practitioners). Awareness of the many benefits of massage therapy is increasing all the time.

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Acupressure or trigger point massage may be very beneficial in relieving back pain.  After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations, with the effects perhaps being mediated by decreased stress hormones.

Massage stimulates the immune system by increasing blood flow and lymph drainage. It improves circulation and relieves congestion in the tissues. It stimulates the production of blood cells and promotes lymph flow which hastens the elimination of cellular wastes. It helps clear muscles of lactic and uric acid that build up during exercise and relaxes muscle hypertonicity as well as relieves muscle tension.

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Benefits of massage also include improving muscle tone and delaying muscle atrophy resulting from inactivity. Deep massage can separate fascial fibres, and prevent the formation of adhesions and helps reduction of inflammation and oedema in joints and soft tissue. Massage stimulates increased proprieties and kinesthetic awareness of the body

Massage assists the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It relaxes and tones the muscles preventing injuries, increases circulation and therefore improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all body cells.

One of the best benefits of massage is that it makes you feels great!!!

For first time clients we will give you 20% off your first visit so you can experience for yourself how good it feels to have a great massage with one of our qualified and experienced remedial massage therapists.

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Just mention that you are a FIFO worker to get 20% off your first visit.

We also have a FIFO Healthy Lifestyle Saver Option where you pay for 5 massages up front and you get the 6th massage for FREE!

If you have private health insurance, you can also receive a rebate from your health insurance fund depending on your level of cover.  Just call your health fund to find out if you qualify and to find out how much rebate you will receive.

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To book in for your FIFO super tune-up please call Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre on (08) 9303 9111.

We are based in the northern suburbs of Perth at Darch Plaza, 225 Kingsway, Darch WA 6065.

 

Resources:
Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT)

Pregnancy Massage and PreEclampsia

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Nearly 75 of pregnant women experience swelling during the last trimester of their pregnancy and most of the time it is relieved by good posture, massage, staying cool, elevation of legs and rest.  However, when something like pre-eclampsia develops, severe swelling or ”pitting oedema” is merely one symptom of sometimes a more serious condition known as pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia affects 2 in every 100 pregnant women.  This is a severe type of high blood pressure, where the only known cure is to deliver the baby. Until now, the only way to diagnose pre-eclampsia has been to check for high blood pressure and to measure the level of protein in the urine but both tests can be unreliable, meaning the condition can be both missed or misdiagnosed with babies being delivered prematurely for no reason.  Until now doctors have also had no way of telling how severe the condition was for each individual woman.

In the UK there is now a blood test which gives an accurate result in just 15 minutes, by measuring the level of Placental Growth Factor (PIGF) in the blood.  Those that show a very low PIGF level have severe pre-eclampsia and will be admitted to hospital for birth, and those with a high level PIGF are unlikely to have a severe form of the condition, regardless of any other symptoms present, and therefore can carry their baby to full term.  Having enquired about this blood test to King Edward Memorial Hospital recently a spokesperson confirmed that this test is not available in WA at the moment, however steps are being taken to be able to perform this blood test in the near future.

Generally speaking, the fluid retention that causes mild swelling the last few weeks in pregnancy is a normal defense mechanism against blood loss during childbirth. Your body will be able to quickly replace lost fluids and begin breastfeeding at the same time, with these fluid stores in place.

Pregnant women experience dilation in the blood vessels, especially in the lower extremities, and “pooling” of blood, which causes oedema (swelling).  The best way to deal with excess fluid is not to restrict it, but to mobilize it. Keep it from staying in areas that cause the most discomfort, such as in the legs, feet, fingers and abdomen. Assisting the kidney function is one way of doing this. Rest and fluids are the two best ways to help the kidneys rid themselves of excess fluid.

So, what are the differences between normal and pitting oedema?

  • Normal Swelling in Pregnancy: Normal swelling is usually limited to the feet, ankles and lower legs but can also affect the wrists, hands and fingers. It generally gets worse after long periods of standing or sitting upright (like driving a long distance or flying).  Normal swelling usually decreases after resting, especially resting with your feet raised and whilst sleeping overnight.  Also, normal swelling will not usually leave a pitting oedema mark in the skin.
  • Pitting Oedema in Pregnancy: A major sign of pitting oedema is when you depress the skin and it does not go back to normal within a few seconds – it stays indented.  This basically means that if pressure is applied to an area of oedema with the finger or thumb for 20-30 seconds and then removed, the area being compressed will have a ‘pit’ or hollow in it which can be both seen and felt easily and does not subside within 30 seconds. Oedema will be obvious both to the sufferer and to those around her.  A very good example of this was when a pregnant woman placed a 20c piece on her lower leg and left it for 30 seconds and when she took it off she was able to see the imprint of the design of the coin on her leg clearly for several minutes.  This is definitely cause for concern and should be checked out immediately.
Notice the difference between normal and pitting oedema - when you depress the area it stays indented.

Notice the difference between normal and pitting oedema – when you depress the area it stays indented.

Severe headaches and visual disturbances (flashes or blurry vision), pain in the upper right abdominal area under the ribcage or right shoulder are also warning signs that you should contact your doctor or midwife immediately.  Another warning symptom of serious swelling during pregnancy is swelling that extends above the feet and legs; particularly if you find your face or arms are swelling contact your health care provider.

If this is the case, then pregnancy massage is highly contraindicated, which means that massage must not be performed until the client has been to her health care provider to be tested for the onset of pre-eclampsia or any other serious condition such as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  This is why it is so very important for women to go to qualified pregnancy massage therapists who have been specially trained to identify conditions that are contraindicated for massage particularly this one.

I’ve had a real interest in working with women who are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.  I have had first hand experience of dealing with pre-eclampsia that quickly went on to become eclampsia and toxemia. This was not diagnosed even though during all my prenatal visits I had high levels of protein and high blood pressure, which I had never suffered prior to pregnancy. The swelling in my feet and legs was incredibly noticeable, (I went up two shoes sizes and still they were tight) however I was being told that swelling was normal during pregnancy and I shouldn’t be concerned. It wasn’t until I passed out going up the stairs at the shopping centre that it suddenly became a serious concern. I was rushed to King Edward Memorial Hospital and had an emergency caesarean at 32 weeks. I was then transferred to intensive care and closely monitored with my blood pressure at 160/100 and my baby girl Hannah was taken to the Special Care Nursery.

For 48 hours we were separated – I was just too sick to visit her and all I had was a polaroid photo that one of the midwives had kindly taken for me.

Special Care Nursery - Hannah born at 32 weeks weighing 4lb 8oz

Special Care Nursery – Hannah born at 32 weeks weighing 4lb 8oz

In milder cases of pre-eclampsia pregnancy massage would be beneficial for the woman’s well-being and obviously the baby as well, however the massage is quite different to your usual massage.

Lymphatic massage of arms and legs will reduce oedema by forcing the excess toxins into the excretory system to be eliminated.  However, if the pre-eclampsia is severe, massage would in fact add more strain on the kidneys.  Protein in the urine is already a sign that the kidneys are struggling to process the wastes.

Seeing Hannah for the first time 48 hours after birth. My legs and feet still very swollen and I couldn't walk.

Seeing Hannah for the first time 48 hours after birth. My legs and feet still very swollen and I couldn’t walk.

Recently we had a client who came for pregnancy massage who we referred back to her health care provider before we could do the massage, and it was found that she did in fact have pre-eclampsia bordering on eclampsia.  What this means is that her kidneys are already over functioning to try and remove toxic waste from the body, therefore having massage would have put even more strain on the kidneys and could have had a really negative effect on her wellbeing.

Only a fully qualified pregnancy massage specialist can provide massage to a client with pre-eclampsia, as this is a very specific type of massage and can have huge benefits to the mum if done correctly.

Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is trained and qualified through Pregnancy Massage Australia to perform this type of massage and can be contacted on (08) 9303 9111.

For more information about the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia go to the Pre-eclampsia Foundation
http://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/sign-symptoms

Are You Stressed?

Studies show that stressful situations can develop into more serious health conditions.  For example: a sudden or unexpected stressor can activate your adrenal glands, which sends adrenaline and other hormones into your bloodstream.  This brings about an increase in your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to the muscles.  

This physical response was appropriate generations ago when it was needed for our very survival, but today much of our stress is emotional.  With the high number of mental stress incidents that we can experience each day, these repetitive physical responses can begin to wear out all of the body’s intricate systems. 

When your stress is chronic, your body releases cortisol; a hormone designed to help the body handle a period of prolonged physical stress.  This hormone is hard for the body to metabolise and consequently can lead to an immune system that becomes heavily suppressed, a damaged cardiovascular system, and a worn out endocrine system (the system responsible for handling stressful conditions).  

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Here are some common stress symptoms: 

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or teeth grinding;
  • Neck ache, back pain, or muscle spasms;
  • Frequent colds and infections;
  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and confusion;
  • Excess anxiety, worry, guilt or nervousness;
  • Depression or frequent mood swings;
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Lack of concentration and forgetfulness.
  • Significant weight loss or gain without diet change;
  • Nervous habits such as fidgeting;
  • Constant tiredness, weakness or fatigue 

Regular massage is the ideal remedy for a stressful life.  With massage your blood and lymph circulation is increased, which helps all parts of your body to receive essential nutrients, dispose of waste products, and defend against disease. 

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Stress may take its greatest toll on the nervous system.  Massage can address the imbalances that stress causes in your body by stimulating the sensory receptors that interconnect and harmonise all areas of your body, bringing it back into proper balance.  This brings about that sense of wellbeing you experience that goes far beyond the release of tense muscles.  

Studies have shown that stress hormones consistently fall after massage, and night-time sleep patterns also improved.  By having a regular massage (even once a month will make a difference) – you are giving your body, mind & spirit the chance to de-stress before it will give you distress.

DID YOU KNOW?

 Surveys have been conducted by a number of Australian organisations, with the following findings: 

  • Workplace stress costs Australian companies up to 1.2 billion dollars a year;
  • 50% of workers reported an increase in workplace stress from the previous year;
  • Workplace stress-related claims are increasing by 20% each year;
  • 26% of employees admitted they have taken a day or more off due to stress, most using regular sick leave;
  • 20% of teachers in one survey reported a medically diagnosed stress disorder;
  • Major reasons for work stress cited by employees are:
    • Management issues, including lack of communication;
    • Increased workload and longer hours;
    • Job insecurity and lack of career opportunities;
    • Organisational change and restructuring, and
    • Inadequate staff and resources. 

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HOW DO YOUR MUSCLES RESPOND TO STRESS? 

When the musculoskeletal system is “stressed” a biochemical stress response sequence is initiated.  The sequence includes the following events:

  • A stressor causes an increase in muscle tone.
  • Increased tone for extended periods leads to retention of metabolic wastes.
  • Increased tone simultaneously leads to a degree of localised oxygen deficit, resulting in ischemia (restriction in blood supply).
  • Increased tone may also lead to oedema (swelling / fluid retention).
  • These factors (retention of waste, ischemia and oedema) lead to discomfort and pain.
  • Discomfort and pain results in increased or maintained hyper-tonicity (increased tension of the muscles).
  • Inflammation or chronic irritation results.
  • Poor functional patterns develop leading to chronic musculoskeletal problems and pain.

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Tools that you can adopt to promote health and wellness, and manage stress levels include:

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One of my favourite tips I love and share with our clients who are tense and stressed is every night before you go to bed “pull your hair”… I am serious, just grab clumps of your hair close to the roots and gently pull – don’t yank so that it is painful – and then grab another clump of hair and gently pull. What this does is releases the tension in the hair follicle and therefore releases the tension in the scalp. You will notice the difference instantly and it will help you to sleep better as well.  

Go on try it right now!!

It is such a simple yet effective way of releasing head tension and ease headaches as well.

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As a massage therapist we have lots of different techniques and helpful tips to support you in your “stress less” journey to better health and harmony in your life.

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At our centre located in Darch (northern suburbs of Perth) we have 5 highly trained remedial massage therapists who all offer different styles and techniques of massage.  We also have a chiropractor who works from our premises so you can be assured of a variety of different options to help ease your pain and reduce / eliminate your stress related dysfunctions.

After hours appointments including Saturdays are available.

Contact Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre today to book in for a massage or any one of our stress management therapies with Vicki Hobbs.