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SHIATSU & PREGNANCY
SHIATSU FOR A HEALTHY PREGNANCY & CHILDBIRTH
An Interview with Lorna Iddon (completed January 2008)
by Daniela Coronelli
What made you decide to receive shiatsu during your Pregnancy and how did it help?
I was a third year student of Shiatsu and I wanted to conceive. I had been trying for a third child for over a year with no success. I wanted to get my body into a healthy state for conception and desperately wanted to be able to successfully breastfeed as I had problems feeding my other two children and was still carrying guilt and dissatisfaction around this. I also had a health history of lower back pain due to spine misalignment, a post-traumatic experience since I was a teenager and suffered from irregular ovulation.
With the help of Shiatsu I did conceive and continued to have regular treatments throughout pregnancy, the birth and post-natally. Shiatsu supported and nourished me, through sensitive touch, which helped to relieve physical and emotional tensions, as they presented. My pregnancy was dominated by grief, as my father died three months before I conceived. Shiatsu helped me to balance my emotions, which swung from deep grief to feeling excited and joyful about being pregnant. It also helped to move through the teenage trauma I had suffered that was connected to my pelvis.
Shiatsu pressure on specific points, deep and sensitive touch on areas which were depleted and tense, relevant stretches which moved blocked energy brought great relief and supported me to cope well with the pregnancy symptoms as they presented. This was the first time I received shiatsu during pregnancy and I experienced milder & shorter symptoms than in my previous pregnancies, especially with regard to lower back ache and abdominal pain, nausea, heartburn and indigestion. It also quickly relieved the unpleasant effect of puffiness due to water retention.
Being a busy mother of 2 and a shiatsu student in my final year, periodic shiatsu sessions provided a space in my life for looking after my own health and to feel deeply relaxed. This meant I could enjoy each stage of my pregnancy and develop a loving connection with my baby.
Particularly helpful were the dietary recommendations and a programme of relevant exercises throughout the pregnancy. In the latter stages the exercises I was given in the forms of squats, abdominal deep breathing, crawling on all fours, rocking, etc. were aimed at opening my pelvis and preparing me and my baby for the birth. Towards the end, my baby got into a back to back posterior presentation, which I knew from previous experience, can cause a very long and painful first stage of labour. By practicing the recommended exercises for this circumstance my baby turned around ready for birth.
Had you received Shiatsu during your previous pregnancies?
No, I only learned about Shiatsu after the birth of my second child. It was then I sought Oriental Medicine as I had severe problems breast feeding. Impressed with the results I decided to train as a Shiatsu Practitioner.
Why did you choose a home birth?
I had a home birth with my second child as a direct reaction of having given birth to my first child in hospital where I had experienced a fairly traumatic medicalised birth. I need to feel in control and relaxed in my environment and this time I took it one step further by asking for shiatsu support during labour. Also I wanted my two older children to feel a part of the birth and experience it as a natural, joyful experience in their own home.
What prompted you to ask your shiatsu practitioner to assist your labour?
I wanted some hands on support and pain relief. It was difficult to organise as she had other commitments around my due date so we left it open, she would attend if she could. Meanwhile we had a couple of shiatsu sessions where she taught my husband the main labour pain relief points and the basic techniques to facilitate the birth. This gave my husband confidence that he could be useful during the birth. As it happened the baby arrived one week late and she could assist the labour.
What role did your Shiatsu Practitioner have during your labour and how did she work alongside the Midwife?
As I was giving birth at home with my other children in the house, she became an invaluable birth partner as well as providing hands on pain relief. This freed my husband to be wherever he was needed and support the whole process.
Shiatsu assisted me during the labour working with whatever physical and emotional blockages presented. I felt in tune with my shiatsu practitioner. She intuitively supported me in the most appropriate way and I could also ask her where I needed pressure, heat, rubbing or holding. It enabled me to be present and in charge of the birth stage by stage.
Earlier on in my labour, after my waters had broken, she gave me a full session focusing mainly on the induction points and preparing my body for birth. I remember feeling relaxed and really positive and ready for the birth. After the session my contractions became more frequent. I called her again when the midwife had arrived. My contractions were just 5 minutes apart and caused pain mainly in my lower back and sacrum. During the contractions she would touch specific points on the sacrum, connect stronger areas of my body with depleted ones and encourage me to breathe deeply into my pelvis. This helped to alleviate my pain and gave me the chance to regain strength before the next contraction. The midwife was happy for us just to get on with it, observing the process from a distance and writing detailed notes on the progress.
Forty-five minutes before giving birth I got stuck and the midwife suggested I needed stronger contractions to move the baby through. My practitioner worked on specific induction points which made the contractions stronger and longer. It became very painful, yet it moved the labour through. At that point the midwife called a second midwife and offered me ethanol (gas and air) to alleviate the pain, which I received gratefully. It helped me to relax and again focus on my breath again during the contractions. Later my baby, Torin was born in perfect health and a healthy 9lbs6oz!
I felt very safe, well cared for with hands on support, the midwife’s medical expertise and my husband minding the whole process.
Would you recommend shiatsu for maternity care?
Having experienced maternity care with and without shiatsu I would strongly recommend regular shiatsu sessions during pregnancy, childbirth and post natal, for a number of reasons:
- It works with you in a totally holistic way, providing relevant personalised support for the symptoms as they present;
- It provides an opportunity to deeply connect with your own body as it changes through pregnancy and with your unborn baby;
- It prevents the symptoms from developing into stronger blockages and problems;
- It provides nourishing and supportive therapeutic touch at a time of strong physical and emotional change;
- It can help prevent childbirth trauma for mother and baby and post-natal depression;
- It minimises the need for medical intervention or drugs.
Lorna Iddon is currently a Shiatsu Practitioner practising in Totnes, Devon
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