Since January 2019, I have taught a new postnatal massage called the postnatal recovery massage, together with osteopath Teddy Brookes.
I want to tell you the history behind why and how we created this massage.
It is very much needed, because in the Western world we no longer offer bodywork as standard to help new mothers heal during the postpartum. Yet, given the tremendous changes a woman’s body undergoes during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum, this is absolutely crazy. Read more on that in this blog post. https://sophiemessager.com/why-postnatal-bodywork-matters/
The seed for this massage (and my book, Why postnatal recovery matters which includes a chapter on postpartum bodywork) was planted when I learnt the closing the bones massage, a traditional postpartum massage from South America, in 2013. People asked if I could teach them so I created a workshop and starting teaching it to birthworkers.
It grew organically and together with a couple of other doulas, I ended up training over 500 people in offering this amazing nurturing ritual. I shared this knowledge in the hope to change the face of the postnatal support, towards a more mother centered and nurturing time.
I have a theme in my professional life, in that almost always end up teaching stuff because people ask me to. Since discovering the Human design system, it makes sense to me because it is in my design to respond.
After a few years of teaching closing the bones, more and more people who had trained with me asked if it would be possible to provide a version of the massage on a massage table instead of on the floor, because they had bad knees, or bad backs, and found working on the floor difficult.
I’d learnt a lot from practicing the massage on my local osteopath friend Teddy Brookes (he provided all the anatomical and effectiveness knowledge for the closing the bones workshop handout, and therefore already knew the technique inside out), so it made sense that I asked him asking if he liked the idea of helping me develop a massage table version of the ritual.
Teddy was enthusiastic about the idea and we started working on it in 2017. We are both perfectionists and it took us over a year and many sessions of practice and trial and error to get it right.
At the beginning, I wanted to create the exact same treatment on the table as we did on the floor. However, the biomechanics of doing something from the side rather than standing over the person, meant that some things simply couldn’t be done in the same way.
Some techniques worked mechanistically but didn’t feel good so we discarded them. It was at times a frustrating, but mostly an exciting exploration and experience and a huge learning curve for me, especially as Teddy also educated me on how to position and use my body for more power, less effort, and increases effectiveness around the table.
As we progressed we also ended up modifying and adding several elements to the massage based on my experience of body changes in the postpartum that weren’t treated as part of the original massage. For example I had noticed that new mothers often had flared ribs post birth, as well as hunched shoulders from feeding and holding their baby, so we added some new techniques to treat these.
In the end we ended up with a massage which, whilst inspired from the original technique, was really quite different. We named it the Postnatal Recovery Massage (PRM).
We had our first practice on a group of birthworkers and therapists in Autumn 2018, and they all loved it.
We started teaching it in January 2019. As of now we have run 10 workshops and trained 90 people in offering this massage! As our 11th workshop is planned for this month we are hoping to reach 100 trainees who can offer this amazing nurturing treatment to new mothers.
We are running the next workshop on Monday the 29th of November in North London, and there are 3 spaces left. Click on the link if you’d like to know more, or feel free to ask me any questions.
Here is some feedback from people who have attended the workshop:
” This new version of the postnatal ceremony blends effective rebozo (shawl) massage techniques and lymphatic drainage massage to support post natal mamas. Rather fabulous it is too!” Emma Kenny, Massage therapist.
“One of the reasons I like the massage that you have developed for the table as it feels like a modern way of adapting the traditional massage. It feels like a new technique, a therapists technique. I also like being able to connect to the anatomical benefits. I want to practise giving the massage and feel newly inspired.” Katie Oliffe, Doula
“What a wonderful, professional, well constructed and instructive course with plenty of time for step by step practical, complemented by Teddy’s expertise and Sophie’s organic shamanism and such a wonderful community of like minded body workers. Thank you. Thoroughly recommended” Jenni Tribe, Therapist
“Thank you so much for an informative and inspiring day. I can’t wait to use the techniques on my clients and support women more effectively. You are doing an amazing work and I’m so grateful ad excited to be part of it!” Grace Lillywhite, Pilates teacher.
“I loved this course. It is just as nurturing as the closing the bones massage but much easier to do. Sophie and Teddy worked amazingly well together” Michelle Parkin, doula.
“The course was well organised, very informative and easy to follow. The level of practical support was fantastic and I feel confident to take what I have learnt and help local women postnatally. Thank you!” Becki Scott, doula and massage therapist.
“Amazing workshop! Loved being in a small group to work through techniques in enough details. As an osteopath this experience has been invaluable in improving my practise if postnatal patient , in fact all of my patients!” Rob Ballard, osteopath
” The massage is a wonderful reworking of the traditional Closing The Bones massage performed on a couch rather than the floor. Sophie and Teddy have taken all that is special about it and fused her energy-work approach with his osteopathic technique to create something extraordinary. It incorporates binding, rocking, jiggling and specific tension releases, with massage of the chest, abdomen and pelvis with warming oil. It is truly a celebration of the postpartum body!” Charlotte Filcek, doula.
“The tutoring, the technique, the group, just exceptional!” Alison Duff, therapist and therapy centre owner.
Here is a short video showing what happens during the workshops: