One of the biggest conversations in fertility work is what came first, stress or fertility challenges? And while we cannot answer that, we know we can help reduce the stress of everyday life.
To beginning each fertility massage sessions, we do a relaxing neck and shoulder massage that consists of a few parts specifically designed to decrease stress, increase relaxation, increase energetic openings through body, create space in the body, and many other powerful forms of general tension release.
Cranial Sacral Holds
Modern life is stressful. No denying that. Even just driving to a park can be stressful with the increase in traffic, busyness of others, and the nagging voice in your head to finish your to do list. The beginning of the massage starts with simply cradling your head and hips until we feel you sink into the table. The ability to let your head go can signify your mental relaxation, and letting go of your hips in the physical. The combination of the two will put you in a better space to receive the bodywork from the fertility massage session.
For clients that request it, we conducted a guided imaginary session where we encourage you to see your baby. By putting the intention into the world that you are ready for a baby, we hope that with the right combination of mental relaxation, physical changes, and any medical help you are receiving, you will receive the baby that you are seeing.
Reflexology Points on Head and Face
The feet and hands aren’t the only points of the body with powerful reflexology points that benefit fertility! While working these points, our intention is to open and relax the pineal gland, the pituitary, and the hypothalamus, all very important in secreting hormones that directly impact fertility.
When was the last time you really kissed your partner? Or is your jaw too tight stress to even fully make out like we did when we were teenagers or newlyweds? Well, our intention for massage the jaw is to help loosen and relax those muscles. The jaw and hips are directly linked in reflexology, and we all know the importance of loose hips during conception, pregnancy, and birth.
No massage therapist can just let sore shoulders go! So maybe this portion of the massage is for us, or maybe it is to better help you relax and release any linger tension that you (and everyone else) has in their neck and shoulders. We use a specifically designed fertility massage oil to help create an aromatic benefit.
We hope this gave you a great idea of what to expect during the neck and shoulder massage portion of the fertility massage. Please contact us when you are ready to schedule your in-home fertility massage!
Using your breast pump to provide expressed milk for your baby is a great way to provide the nutrients of breastmilk to your baby, while also having the flexibility to always be available. We have found that many of our clients love pumping and find it as a great way to help involve partners, grandparents, and even overnight postpartum doulas in the care of their babies!
Here are some of our favorite tips for using your pump for infant feeding:
Ordering Your Breast Pump
Many insurances companies will now provide a breast pump to pregnant patients! This is a great benefit, but sometimes a bit tricky to navigate how to actually get one. We recommend speaking with your insurance company first and following their guidelines. Usually, they will require a prescription from your OB or midwife, and will then take care of the rest or connect you with a 3rd party pump distributor.
Learn About Your Breast Pump Preferences
Taking the time early to learn about what is important to you in a pump prior to ordering yours is helpful. Are you interested in a closed system or an open system pump? Are you concerned about having hands free? Where will you primarily be pumping and do you have the correct power adaptor? What about having a manual pump? Do you need a spacial hands-free bra?
While you may not know all these answers right now, you can start thinking about what is important to you and begin your search there.
Sizing Your Flange on Your Breast Pump
The flange, or part that goes over your nipple, should be sized to your breast size. Our friends at AeroFlow Breast recommend the COMFY test, which in short says the nipple should move freely in the pump (ie not jammed against the sides), only areola tissue should be in the flange during the pumping session (no breast tissue should enter the flange, and that it should be comfortable!
Hands On Pumping
Massaging your breast while pumping can help maximize your milk production. We highly recommend watching this great instructional video to learn a bit more about breast massage or speak with Emily, our breast massage expert.
Set Up a Comfortable Place to Pump
Just like the set-up you made for late night breastfeeding sessions, make sure your pumping station is equally as comfortable. If it becomes a chore to pump, it will become a less important part of your day.
Share the Love
With pumping comes freedom! Enjoy that new found freedom by sleeping through a feeding so your partner can take a night feeding, or enjoy a dinner out because you know your baby is being well taken care of you by your postpartum doula with freshly pumped milk.
After each pump session, develop a plan to clean your pumping parts. We highly recommend having a few extra parts so that you do not need to clean immediately after each feeding. A few of our favorite clean tips are:
Reflexology is a powerful massage tool provide valuable information about your body.
Benefits of Reflexology Include:
Stimulate various organs, glands, and systems in your body
Highlight differences between the right and left side of your body
Regulate hormones released by specific glands
Relax your body
Increase circulation to stimulated areas of the body
Our fertility massage has a large component that works with reflexology of the feet. We use a specially formulated massage lotion and castor oil blend to further the cleansing effects on the feet. We use deeper, pointed pressure to the various areas that impact the endocrine, reproductive and digestive systems of the body.
Another important aspect of our reflexology work is the intention in therapeutic benefits to increase fertility, so we do go back and forth to stimulate the right and left side of the body at the same time. A more relaxing massage may complete one foot prior to moving on to the next, and that can loses some of the therapeutic benefits.
Important Reflexology Points For Fertility Massage:
Pineal: Produces hormones, specifically melatonin
Pituitary: Responsible for all the major reproductive hormones
Thyroid: Helps regulate and stimulate the menstrual cycle
Pancreas: Helps regulate the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
AdrenalGlands: Releases stress hormones
Liver: Cleanses the body
Spleen: Filters and cleanses blood
LargeandSmallIntestines: Cleanses the digestive tract
Uterus: Pretty important in carrying the soon to be baby
Ovaries: Produces healthy eggs for conception
UterineTubes(Fallopian Tubes): Carries the eggs to the uterus for implantation
Ticklish Feet and Reflexology
A question we often get about reflexology is “will I enjoy reflexology even though I am ticklish?” And the answer is usually yes! Reflexology is usually a deeper pressure massage that bypasses the sensors that are ticklish. You can it on yourself to see the difference. First, try a very light stroke with the intention to ticket. Then, try a deeper focused pressure to one are of the foot with the intent to massage. The direct pressure and intention usually are enough to not be ticklish!
Stomach massage tends to be an area of the body most people are not comfortable having someone see, let alone let someone else touch it. And while we respect those decision, a therapeutic abdominal massage can be hugely beneficially for those trying to conceive.
Like we mentioned a few days ago, each massage session starts with the application of a castor oil pack. This relaxes the stomach, softens the bowels, and begins to loosening any abdominal adhesions.
By the time we get to the stomach, we hope to see that most of the castor oil has been completely absorbed into the skin to know that is it really doing some internal work. We will apply more castor oil to your stomach to begin the abdominal massage.
What To Expect From a Therapeutic Stomach Massage During a Fertility Massage
We like to use the word therapeutic to imply that this isn’t a gentle massage. We do really want to use some pressure (but of course not more than you can handle) so we can hopefully make a difference. Our intention is to help cleanse the digestive system at the beginning of the massage so we can really get to the underlying structures. You may feel a bit a discomfort, but it should be therapeutic discomfort and certainly not more than you can handle.
After your stomach is nice and warm, we go into working around the pelvis. At this point, we are trying to break up any existing congestion either from past physical or emotional tightness. This movement consists of getting at the attachments of your muscles and ligaments around the pelvic to break up the tissue and get blood flowing more effectively. With our more sedentary lifestyles, many people notice tightness and congestion around the pelvis.
Positioning of the Uterus
After we have loosened your muscles and ligaments to allow for more mobility and circulation in your pelvis, we are going to start feeling around for your uterus. The typical uterus is pretty much directly above the pubic symbiosis and flush to the skin. Sometimes, the uterus may face posterior and that can be felt by dip above the pubic symbiosis. Other times, the uterus can be more anterior and cause a slight bulge above the pubic symbiosis. We do have a few tricks to encourage the uterus to return to the average position, and may do those if indicated.
By learning about the positioning of your uterus, you become more aware of your body and able to communicate to your medical team more effectively about your care!
At the beginning of each fertility massage session, the first thing we will do is apply a castor oil pack to your abdominal area. Also included in the price of our first session is a self care kit including supples to do for your own castor oil packs at home!
Benefits of Using Castor Oil
Cleansing: Castor oil can cleanse the gut by expelling any stubborn residue.
Soften: As castor oil absorbs into the skin, it can soften the bowels and any adhesions that are present.
Relaxing: A hot pack on your stomach with a castor oil feels lovely and is deeply relaxing.
Systems and Conditions That Benefit From Castor Oil:
Digestive System: The softening of your bowels can help cleanse the digestive system.
Liver: With the liver being the main organ for detoxification, the castor oil aids in that detoxification and helps the liver more effective function.
Uterine Fibroids, Cysts, and Blockages: The softening benefit of castor oil can also help soften uterine fibroids.
Scar Soften: Castor oil can help loosen scar tissue and adhesions from a past surgery, including cesarean scars.
Castor Oil Pack During Fertility Massage Sessions
As soon as you get on the table, we begin the session by liberally applying the castor oil to your stomach. We like to look for a good shine to your stomach to know you have enough oil! After the oil is applied, we place our sheet over it, and then top with a hot water bottle. We then let it sit and absorb. After
At Home Care
We encourage our clients to use their castor oil packs at home about 3-5 times per week. Simply liberally rub the oil in a clockwise direction on your stomach, then place a flannel sheet on top that completely covers your stomach, and top with a heating source. At home, you can use any heat source that fits your body. Also, if you are sensitive to heat, the heat source is not necessary. You then leave the pack on for about 20-45 minutes, or until the oil is completely absorbed into your skin.
Where ever you are in your fertility journey, receiving a fertility massage can be very beneficially for your overall physical and mental health, as well as some great educational benefits!
Physical Health Benefits of Fertility Massage
Increased Blood Flow and Movement Through Your Pelvis: Special techniques applied to the pelvic region allow the muscles and ligaments to loosen and relax so that the pelvis can move more freely.
Cleansing of Digestive System: The application of castor oil to the abdominal area coupled with therapeutic massage techniques help cleanse the digestive system.
Break Up Adhesions in Abdominal Area: Adhesions can build up from past injuries or traumas, and our massage techniques can help reduce them, specially around the reproductive system.
Balance Hormones: Massage has proven benefits to reduce hormones, specifically increase feel good hormones, and decrease stress hormones.
Activate Reproductive and Endocrine System Through Focused Reflexology: We will hit specific points in your feet and ankle to stimulate your reproductive and endocrine system.
Mental Health Benefits of Fertility Massage
Stress Reduction: Stress has a powerful impact on our health, and that includes our reproductive health. Receiving any type of massage has known benefits to reduce stress
Deep Relaxation: How often do you actually relax? Our modern lives little room to just be in the moment where we can take a deep breath without worrying about what is next.
Education Benefits of Fertility Massage
Better Understanding of Body: Before, during and after each massage session we talk the time to really talk to you about you notice and feel your body. Sometimes after a massage, you may realize something new about your body that you had never noticed before!
Increase Knowledge About Your Menstrual Cycle: Specifically in our first session, but also in subsequent sessions, we talk with you about your menstrual cycle. We help you learn the signs of ovulation and even the start of your period so that you can have been understand of when conception can occur, and when it cannot!
Busy Moms need some Mom Hacks that will help clean those stubborn stains and messes our kids make.
After a particularly messy Sunday morning of making slime with my son, I realized I needed to up my game about using everyday items found in our home to help clean up messes. After a quick Google search and polling the Moms in a local Mom group, I was inspired to share my findings!
Note: test in a hidden spot of the clothes first to makes sure that your particular fabric responds well to how the stain is being removed. We cannot guarantee that these methods work on all stain and fabric types.
Getting Slime Out of Clothes
A bit vinegar on the slime and it comes right off! Always make sure to rinse the vinegar off completely or wash immediately so the acid does not damage the fabric.
Cleaning Sandy Feet
For the beach days, bring some baby powder to get dry sand off dry feet! Note: this only works with dry sand.
Blood Off Of Clothes
Pour on a bit of hydrogen peroxide and that blood will come right up! It does work better when it is fresh, so taking care of it sooner rather than later is better.
Grease Stain or Salad Dressing on Clothes
A bit of Dawn or other grease fighting dish soap will take a grease stain right off your clothes!
Washing A Pull Up
Add a bit of salt to the washing machine if you accident wash a pull up or diaper can help dissolve the gel in the washer and makes clean up much easier! About a half cup in the rinse cycle will do the trick.
Removing Ink From Clothes
Spray some hairspray on the ink and then wash as normal! Pulls that ink right off the shirt and it is as good as new!
Chocolate Stain on Clothes
These are tricky stains to get out, so pretreat with a bit a vinegar or lemon juice for about five minutes, then rinse. Flip the fabric over to treat the stain from the back with a dishwashing soap that fights grease and 3 cups of warm water. Once the stain is completely removed, wash as normal.
Tree Sap On Hands
Rub some peanut butter on your hands after a day of exploring the woods, and the tree sap comes right off.
Coffee/Tea Stain On Clothes
Apply a bit of cornstarch and vinegar paste to the stain and let sit until stain comes out. Wash as normal.
Whether the spill was caused by you or your toddler, we won’t judge. Just sprinkle the stain with a bit of baking soda and wash with club soda and it is like it never happened.
Berry Stains on Clothes
If you are on the go, squeeze a bit of lemon on the stain. If you are home, flush the stain with boiling water and then dab a bit of vinegar on the stain to complete clean the berries stain off your clothes.
The goal of all of these Mom hacks is to help make life a bit easier. All of our postpartum doulas that serve the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill area will help you adjust to life with a newborn and toddler, and share all sorts of tricks they have learned over the years!
You were expecting your bundle of joy to arrive for months now, and it’s finally here – your baby has arrived!
It will be the happiest, most magical day of your life – that’s what all those books, your mom, your friends, and even the movies told you, anyway.
But now that it’s here, nothing quite feels like you thought it would, and instead, you’re having trouble bonding with your baby, and feeling more alone than ever. You feel cheated out of the beautiful experience you were promised, but the truth is, one in five new moms are going through the same thing!
Continue reading, and you’ll learn all about postpartum depression and massage therapy!
What Are The Benefits Of Massage Therapy for Postpartum Depression?
I know getting a massage is the last thing on your mind right now, as you’re trying to adjust to this new role you’re given, but here’s the thing:
Massage therapy promotes relaxation, feelings of calmness and well-being, reduces pains and aches, and helps you sleep better – all of which can be beyond helpful during the postpartum period.
Here are a few ways postpartum depression and massage therapy are connected:
1. Restoring Hormone Balance
You had a baby recently, it’s no wonder your hormones are out of whack - estrogen and progesterone levels are falling, prolactin and oxytocin levels are rising, which is confusing enough as it is.
But when you add postpartum depression into the mix, along with messed up dopamine and serotonin levels, the imbalance becomes too much to handle.
Massage therapy is a proven way to lower your cortisol levels and restore a proper hormone balance after childbirth, which could help you manage the symptoms of PPD, and bring about feelings of calmness and well-being.
2. Stress Relief and Relaxation
It’s no secret that pregnancy and childbirth take a toll on you, both physically and emotionally – you probably have stress hormones raging around in your body as we speak.
As I already mentioned, massage therapy can help lower the levels of stress hormones, mainly adrenaline and cortisol, improve circulation, increase endorphins in your body, and leave you feeling calm and relaxed – something every mom experiencing PPD needs.
3. Improved Sleep Quality
You went through labor and childbirth, you’re caring for your newborn around the clock, and on top of that, you’re suffering from PPD – it’s no wonder you’ve been losing sleep lately!
But here’s the thing:
Massage therapy can promote relaxation, ease fatigue, and help you sleep better – and trust me; everything will feel a lot better once you finally get a good night’s rest!
4. Easier Breastfeeding
It’s not uncommon for new moms to struggle with breastfeeding, as well, but if you’re set on nursing your baby, you’ll be glad to know that massage therapy could help in a few interesting ways.
You already know that getting a massage helps your muscles relax, and improves your circulation, which makes a huge difference by itself – but did you know that it increases prolactin (the hormone responsible for lactation) levels in your body, as well?
5. Reduced Pain and Faster Recovery
If you were an athlete, you would get a sports massage to help with your recovery, now, wouldn’t you? So, who’s to say you don’t deserve a massage as a new mom?
Pregnancy and childbirth bring about all sorts of aches and pains – and now that you’re taking care of a newborn, your arms, neck, shoulders, and back are under a lot of pressure, too.
It may not seem like it has a lot to do with postpartum depression, but feeling like your old, pain-free self – you know, the one before the pregnancy – could do wonders for your emotional well-being.
Infant Massage Is a Less Obvious Option – But It Works
When we talk about postpartum depression and massage therapy, the focus is almost always placed on new mothers – after all, they’re the ones suffering from PPD, right?
So, how does infant massage fit into the picture?
Well, if you think about it, infant massage is all about taking the time to focus on your newborn, using a very light touch to stroke the baby’s body, gently rub their tiny feet, all while maintaining eye contact and talking (or singing) softly.
The comfortable, calming experience of infant massage is shown to encourage and strengthen the mother-infant bond, allowing moms to feel connected to their child, which could help them work through the emotions they’re dealing with as a result of postpartum depression.
Infant massage brings about numerous benefits for your child, but moms dealing with PPD can benefit from it in the following ways, as well:
Makes for a beautiful bonding experience, supported, and often enhanced, by raising endorphin and oxytocin levels in the body
Calms and soothes the infant, and, in turn, reduces anxiety levels in depressed moms
Helps you better understand the baby's cues, which can relieve the feelings of anxiety new moms could have about the baby’s health and safety
Encourages healthy sleep patterns in the newborn, which ultimately leads to improved sleep quality of new moms, as well
Final Thoughts about Postpartum Depression and Massage Therapy
If there’s anything I’d like you to take away from this article, it’s these two things:
First off, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment here – and even though there’s an undeniable connection between postpartum depression and massage therapy, your doctor is still the best person to talk to about your options.
And more importantly, no matter how much you’re struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation, I want you to remember that you’re not alone – and with proper treatment and support, things will get better.
Blog Written By Stewart Higgins Massage Chair ExpertLearn about all the best massage therapy tools, tips, and techniques on this amazing website.
The uterus is an amazing muscle. Not only can it grow to 500 times it normal size during pregnancy, it is a self-cleaning and self-regulating organ that intentionally sheds it’s line every month. It can weigh only a few ounces to over two pounds depending on the stage of life a woman is in. Plus, not only can it help support making a human, it can (repeatedly) make an entirely new organ inside of it (the placenta!)
That sounds exhausting.
No wonder uterine fatigue is a common, but not normal, condition that many women face during their lives.
What is Uterine Fatigue?
Uterine fatigue is not a life threatening condition, but it is not can be seen when there is bleeding between periods. Whether this bleeding is heavy, or light enough for a small panty liner, it can be a sign that uterus is not clearing out the lining.
Signs of Uterine Fatigue
Bleeding Between Periods
Two Periods a Month
Anytime that there is blood present outside of the normal menstrual cycle, it can be a sign that there is uterine fatigue.
Vaginal Steaming and Uterine Fatigue
We recommend using the Gentle Herb blend if you experience uterine fatigue. We do not need to further cleanse the uterus, but rather slow the period down a bit. The Gentle Herbs contain herbs to blood tonic that helps replace nutrients lost each month, while also holding off the blood to bring the body back to wellness by having only one period per month.
We hope this helped you learn a bit more about uterine fatigue and how regular steaming can help reduce these symptoms.
Our gentle herb formula for yoni steaming is a relaxing blend of herbs that is intended to help with bleeding issues. By closing the blood vessels, these herbs are said to prevent unwanted bleeding. This unwanted bleeding can be for those with shorter than average menstrual cycles or those who experience spotting or bleeding between periods.
When To Use The Gentle Herb Formal
Short Menstrual Cycles: When your menstrual cycle is less than 27 days, this is a great formula for you. The blood stopper and chi tonic herbs found in this formula help to reduce bleeding, thus extend your cycle length.
Signs of Uterine Fatigue: In short, when you have bleeding between your period, this is a sign of uterine fatigue. This may be a full second period per month, or any spotting that occurs during the month. The herbs in the gentle formula help to reduce this unwanted bleeding.
If You Are Under the Age of 13: Yes, yoni steaming is recommended for young women! Teaching our daughters from an early age how to properly care for their bodies is so important and the gentle herbs are just that: gentle. Note: we also recommend other modifications for those younger than 13 such as shorter steaming times.
If Not Suited For You
If you use the gentle herb formula and it is not suited for you, you may notice that you menstrual cycle is longer than normal. If you notice this, please let us know, and we can adjust the herbs used for your next steam. Our goal is that your menstrual cycle is right around the 28 day mark, and though it might be nice to have a longer cycle, this is what is best for the body.
Schedule your in-home yoni steam with the gentle herb formula today! We look forward to working with you!