What is the Closing the Bones postnatal massage?
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. The massage stimulates blood flow which in turn; cleans, renews, moves fluids (may help with milk supply/lochia), moving hormones, immune system, toning muscles and tissue. In traditional cultures, the 41 days of the postnatal period represent a sacred time. In this time the woman will have the closing massage at least 5 times, the first being 6 hours after birth, this begins to put the bladder and uterus back into place.
We were taught this traditional massage at the Doula UK retreat in Cae Mabon, Wales, by Rocio Alarcon. Rocio is an amazing woman from Ecuador. She was trained in traditional midwifery, shamanism and, ethnobotany by her mother and grandmother, and she also holds a PhD in ethnobotany.
Rocio explained that if we did MRI scans of pregnant women we would see how the hips open during the pregnancy, becoming wider and wider, and that 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.
Rocio also explained that the hips support the weight of the spine and head and that they are therefore the seat of unresolved emotions and trauma, which can be felt upon the hips as adrenalin crystals, that need to be popped and released during the massage.
The massage itself includes sifting with a rebozo, using the rebozo for closing the hip bones, and using various hand massage techniques using oil around the pubic bones, belly and around the hips. You can use any oil but we particularly love the sacral chakra blend from Katseye blends.
About the Workshop
Maddie McMahon and I run Closing the Bones Study days. This day is for you if you want to learn this postnatal massage, or you want a chance to practice the skill again. We talk a bit about our experiences working with clients and the emotional and spiritual elements to this healing ritual as well as teach the elements to the massage. Here’s your chance to get to grips with this skill and take it back to your community. If you’d like to enquire about attending the day, please contact us. Read on for more information about Closing the Bones.
What makes this workshop unique?
This is a small group workshop limited to 8-12 people so there is plenty of time for individual attention. You will received a very special handout, which not only contains very detailed instructions of the techniques (which have been explained and validated by an osteopath) and theory learnt, as well as video instructions of each part of the massage, but also draws on our own unique mix of traditional and scientific knowledge. You will also gain access to a secret facebook group which has over a 100 trained closing the bones practitioners-a brilliant space to share knowledge and learn from each other.
This workshop runs from 10 to 4.
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Dates and locations
We run regular Closing the Bones days here in Cambridgeshire, as well as around the UK, teaching other doulas and birthworkers, practising and passing on the skills, whilst nurturing each other. All are welcome.
This workshop costs £89 per person. Upcoming dates:
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Our Experience with Closing the Bones
We feel that beyond the physical aspect of closing the bones, there is a spiritual aspect to the massage, which provide a safe space/ritual for the mother to feel nurtured and release emotions associated with the birth and motherhood. Having experienced the massage ourselves and given the massage to new and not so new mothers, we have both experienced and witness how powerful this ritual can be in releasing birth emotions, even many years after the birth itself.
We have offered and given this massage to a few of our clients. Working together as a pair to massage and nurture the woman has been a deeply emotional experience for both we doulas and the mother. It is a time out for her; a time to have a silent communion with herself and reflect on her journey to motherhood and to feel the loving hands of her sisters. We recently massaged a woman who was 2 years into her mothering. At the end, after her rebozo sifting, we wrapped the rebozo around her hips and sat, one each side of her, each giving firm traction on an end of the scarf, closing her hips.
Her tears began to flow. We sat and held her space for some time and, when it felt right, we released the rebozo and covered her in a blanket and sat silently, each with a hand on her, as she cried. We could sense it was a well-overdue release for her.
Some days later, she told us that a great shift had happened inside her. She has released feelings about her birth and the pent up tensions of the last 2 years and now everything felt different. This experience has reiterated for us how powerful and necessary it is to spend time nurturing the mother in a very physical way, honouring her amazing pelvis.
"Personally, I know how deeply releasing this massage is. I had no idea how much emotion I had repressed and stored in my body until Rocio laid her hands on my hips. My last child was born 9 years before that massage and I thought I was fully debriefed! Little did I know that such emotion was lying just under the surface, and how much better I would feel after experiencing the powerful effect of my bones being closed."