BPP: You were a doula for years, and then transitioned to massage therapy. What drew you to changing your career direction?
LW: I LOVE attending births and I still attend 1-2 a year, however, it has become a challenge to be on call around the clock. My son is 13, and he is involved in many extra-curricular activities. I also love to travel, and when you attend births you are unable to do so. As a busy parent, I find massage easier to schedule, and my day is over earlier, so I can have quality family time. I also find massage to be relaxing for me as a practitioner. Every session is a meditation for me. I get to focus on that person and be completely in the moment. When I’m on vacation I miss the ritual of my massage practice. It’s a wonderful way to pace my day and really connect with people in a healing space.
BPP: Describe what a pregnant mom would experience in a prenatal massage.
LW: Prenatal massage is so relaxing for mama and baby. I treat it as two people who want to be in harmony together. Massaging pregnant women is my favorite because moms are so open to education and feedback, and sometimes just need a listening ear. I feel privileged to work with pregnant women. Prenatal massage is so important for the mother’s circulatory system, adrenals, hormones and joints, but equally as important for emotional and spiritual connection. It’s my goal to help the pregnant mama and baby leave my studio feeling fully nurtured and supported mentally, physically and spiritually.
BPP: What do you focus on when providing massage to a brand new mom?
LW: Many times new moms need education and information. Most of the time, I find they need an open ear to LISTEN. First time mothers are saturated with information from the internet. Information overload is not helpful. Many times we just need to process the journey of pregnancy and parenting. I ask my clients to read books with interesting pregnancy stories or ask them to do artwork, or go hang out in nature. The brain needs a break so we can be fully present with our growing babies.
BPP: As a parent, how have you personally worked to obtaining good work and personal life balance?
LW: I receive massages or another form of bodywork at least once a week. When I was pregnant with my son 13 years ago I was attending births and practicing massage. I was forced to slow down when my blood pressure rose from doing too much. I learned a valuable lesson about self care. Being pregnant made me more aware of the foods I was eating, and helped me make sure I rested well. I also practiced prenatal yoga and swam at Deep Eddy Pool everyday. When my son was born, I made an agreement with myself that I would not go longer than a month without receiving massage or other types of bodywork, and I’ve stuck to it. Massage is not a form of pampering. It is preventative care.
BPP: What benefits could dads/parenting partners get from massage?
LW: I always remind dads and partners that they are pregnant too! Just because they are not physically carrying the baby, they ARE carrying the baby energetically and emotionally. Fathers/partners feel lots of financial and emotional pressures when their partner is expecting. They nest and prepare just like their partner. It is important that they receive self care as well. They don’t want to work and burn out before the baby even gets here. They need to show up to childbirth and baby care classes, not to mention the birth, with a full tank. Partners need to model self care, because they will be going through sleep deprivation, fastening car seats and changing diapers soon enough. Self care should be a good habit that gets started from the beginning of the pregnancy, because once the first child is born, time is such a luxury! If you make your appointments for massage, take your hot baths, or go for a run regularly it will be easier to keep your good habits once the baby is here.
BPP: What is your favorite part of working with expectant moms?
LW: I love that moms do their homework. What does this mean? If you ask them to do a breath work technique, drink lots of water, practice some pelvic rocks, sit on the exercise ball, work with visualization, and get massage and bodywork, they actually do it! They are wonderful clients because they are not only looking out for their best interest but alsol the interest of the baby. I also love working with babies. It’s like doing infant massage before they are even born. I turn the mom on her left side, then her right, and by the time I get to the belly the baby is usually all nestled in and relaxed. Sometimes if I’m lucky, I will feel a little kick or nudge of enjoyment. This gives me great joy to share such a beautiful experience with this new soul. I’m not thinking about my grocery list or what I did yesterday. I’m RIGHT THERE IN THAT MOMENT! There is nothing else quite like that moment with that little one and her mama.
BPP: In your experience, what mental/emotional blocks do expectant moms have to self-care (such as regular massage therapy), and what is your response to those blocks?
LW: What I find most about moms is that they feel guilty for taking time or money for self care (massage, acupuncture, yoga class, nutritional support). I often hear that massage is a luxury, and I often reply, ” No, it’s preventative medicine and it would be wonderful if our health care paid for it!” In our culture it’s ok to spend money on a new haircut, highlights or a pedicure, but not on our body and health. Time also becomes a luxury in a growing family. We can not be sane parents without some time for ourselves. It is imperative that we create this in our lives. Even as a single parent, I made time to have self care while my son’s godmother was at my home or when he was in preschool. As moms we have to put ourselves first because no one else is going to.
BPP: If you had to give one sanity-saving tip to new parents, what would it be?
LW: Take naps, get massages, do yoga (even if it’s only 5 min on the floor) and take some time to meditate. I have made a point to take at least five minutes of meditation before I get out of bed in the morning and jump into my day. Good habits will take you a long way and keep you sane.
Thank you Luna for your hands on support and nurturing for babies and moms. We appreciate your loving work, and your firm stance on massage being a preventative health benefit, not a luxury. That's how we feel about all forms of self care!
Cheryl & Kirsten
Visit www.babyproofedparents.com created by Cheryl Sipkowski & Kirsten Brunner, two moms and counselors of 16 years experience determined to deliver the best in parenting resources and sanity support.