A healing and nurturing abdominal massage and ritual
This video (a Facebook live feed from May 2016) explains what this wonderfully restorative abdominal massage is and what its benefits are, in particular in the postnatal period, whether it is your first baby or your fifth. You will also find out how it can be given to women at any stage of their lives, particularly when they go through transitions, such as their first menstruation or the menopause, as well as to women who haven’t birthed but wish to close something else in their life, such as the end of a marriage, a business venture or a creative project.
Postnatally – supporting the return of a new mother back to her full physical, mental and spiritual energy and health
This traditional Ecuadorian massage is a nurturing, relaxing massage for the postnatal period, closing the hips after childbirth, helping the pelvis, uterus and bladder to return to their natural positions and to support a new mum so that she feels pampered, well looked after and that she matters because what she has done is simply AWESOME – growing a baby for about 9 months and bringing him or her into the world!
This massage is taught by Rocio Alarcon all over the world, an amazing woman from Ecuador who was trained in traditional midwifery, shamanism and ethnobotany by her mother and grandmother and who also holds a PhD in ethnobotany. Now in the UK, Maddie McMahon and Sophie Messager teach the massage to doulas, massage therapists and birth workers, and I am delighted to have done Sophie’s workshop in May 2016.
As I explain in the video above, a woman’s hips open during pregnancy, becoming wider and wider, and so after the birth it is paramount to help close them back to their normal width, otherwise mothers suffer from pelvic instability (Rocio attributes the many women suffering from hip issues in our society to the lack of Closing the Bones massages post-birth) and leak energy from their energy centres (shakras).
In Ecuador, women are given this massage within hours of the birth and receive it again at least 5 or 6 times during the first 40 days postpartum (i.e. about once a week). The massage stimulates blood flow, which in turn cleanses, renews, moves fluids (may help with milk supply and lochia), helps hormones circulate, restores the immune system, toning muscles and tissue in the process and starting to put the bladder and uterus back into place.
In traditional cultures, the first 30 to 40 days of the postnatal period represent a sacred time. During this time, the woman must rest and focus on baby completely. The other women of the family (grandmas, aunties, sisters) help nurture the woman while she herself nurtures her baby. The massage is part of this nurturing ritual.
The massage itself includes ‘sifting’ with a rebozo (a long scarf), using various hand massage techniques using oil around the pubic bone, belly, hips and lower back, and using the rebozo for closing the hip bones at the end.
Beyond the physical aspect of ‘closing the bones’, there is a spiritual aspect to the massage, in the sense that it provides a safe space for the mother to feel nurtured and release emotions associated with the birth and motherhood. Having experienced the massage myself and given the massage to new and not-so-new mothers, I have both experienced and witnessed how powerful this ritual can be in releasing birth emotions, even many years after the birth itself (my ‘baby’ was 3 and half years old!).
It is a time-out for the woman, a gentle pause in her demanding day as a new mum (whether for the first, second or more time), a time to go back to herself as a woman and to feel her body in a new way, after it has ‘housed’ another human being.
It is very common for women to feel a wonderful shift in energy and emotions and feel renewed, rejuvenated and rested. It is a time when the giver of the massage can just be, in silence, and hold the sacred space of early motherhood for her, honouring her amazing belly and body. It can be a very powerful experience.
- One massage: £62 (+ travel expenses 45p per mile over a 3-mile radius if I come to your house)
- Block of 6 massages (most beneficial for several weeks after the birth): £310 (6 massages for the price of 5)
At any stage of life, for anyone
This massage and ritual can be given to any woman, man or child, because the techniques help move energy around, stimulate lymphatic and blood flow, relaxing and warming muscles and fascia, and stimulating the release of feel-good hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin. In particular, it can be very beneficial to anybody experiencing anxiety, stress and/or depression.
So if you so wish, this massage can be part of your therapy sessions with me, in particular if you suffer from the above. If you just want some relaxation, read about it here.
£62 (+ travel expenses 45p per mile over a 3-mile radius if I come to your house)
Closing the Bones Ceremony
If you have had a Mother Blessing Ceremony (and even if you haven’t!), it is a wonderful thing to organise a Closing the Bones Ceremony with the same women who were there. The ceremony includes the massage as above, the use of several rebozos to close up the whole body (held by all the women present) and can be as spiritual as you want it, with chanting, candles, incense, bells, etc., or as low key as you wish (just the rebozos, just the presence of your friends and family members, with gentle, relaxing music in the background). This can also be done with just me if you prefer, after your massage.
This is for new mums or any woman who is going through any kind of transition in her life.
£100-150 (+ travel expenses 45p per mile over a 3-mile radius)
The fee depends on whether it’s just with me or a full ceremony with friends and/or family.