Since 2014, I have been teaching the closing the bones postnatal massage ritual to perinatal professionals. What started with a small workshop in my home grew organically. Over the last 10 years, I have trained over 800 professionals to provide this amazing ritual.  Postpartum specific bodywork is something that exists (or used to exist) all over the world and I’m on a quest to make it the norm once more. 

The catalyst for evolution

Within a couple of years of teaching, a growing number of students who had trained in the closing the bones ritual reached out, asking for a version adapted for a massage table instead of the traditional floor setting. They asked for this because several of them faced challenges like bad knees or backs, making floor work difficult.

This call to action resonated deeply with me, and I consulted with my trusted friend and osteopath, Teddy Brookes, who was very familiar with the massage, having helped me understand its effects on the various joints and organs from an anatomical standpoint.

Together, we embarked on an ambitious journey to develop a massage table version of this ritual, a true labour of love that took over a year and a half of dedicated trial and error.

The creation process

Each session was a meticulous exploration, meticulously recorded and analysed. Teddy and I would alternate between giving and receiving each technique, first on the floor, then on the massage table. We encountered numerous challenges, from biomechanical limitations to the struggle of preserving the ritual’s essence while adapting it to a new form.

There were a lot of frustrations as we grappled with the intricacies of rebozo rocking and hip squeezing. Teddy’s deep knowledge of body function guided my perfectionist desire to create something true to the original ritual, whilst ensuring the technique’s safety, effectiveness, and ease on the therapist’s body.

The breakthrough

Just when we thought we had hit an impasse, the magic happened. I let go of my need for an exact replication of the original ritual, embracing Teddy’s guidance that we were aiming for the same effect, not an identical experience.

With this breakthrough, everything seemed to flow effortlessly. We modified and added elements, treating areas like the ribs and shoulders that were overlooked in the original massage. The movements felt logical, seamlessly blending into a new, inspired ritual.

The Postnatal Recovery Massage (PRM) was born, a fusion of tradition and innovation, embodying the essence of the closing the bones ritual.

The first training

After unveiling the PRM to a small group of local doulas and massage therapists, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The movements flowed beautifully, resonating with the spirit of the original ritual while offering a modern, therapist-friendly approach.

As we put the final touches on our comprehensive handout, complete with descriptions, pictures, videos, and anatomical explanations, we looked forward to introducing this transformative technique to the world.

The first workshop took place Cambridge in January 2019, and was a resounding success, with trainees expressing gratitude, excitement, and confidence in their newfound ability to support women postnatally. They spoke of the magical blend of science and spiritual knowledge we’d created and also expressed that this new massage would appeal to a wider range of women, due to it being done on a massage table instead of on the floor.

Joining the movement

The journey Teddy and I have taken has been one of passion, perseverance, and a deep commitment to nurturing the postpartum experience. With the Postnatal Recovery Massage, we have created a powerful ritual that harmonises tradition and innovation, empowering birth workers and therapists to provide profound healing and support to new mothers and support healing for women through life transitions. Since 2019 we have taught this massage to over 120 students.

Because we teach this workshop together, we offer a unique blend of healing approach together with solid anatomical knowledge, a lot of hands-on practice, personalised feedback and support during the training, and any additional resources or support provided to ensure students feel fully supported to offer the ritual after the workshop.

Here is some of the feedback we received from our students:

  • 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
  • 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 practices of postnatal patients, in fact all of my patients! Rob Ballard, osteopath
  • 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
  • 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

Since developing this massage, both Teddy and myself have had repeatedly amazing results when offering this ritual to women, both in terms of physical healing (in particular, its incredible effectiveness at closing separation of the abdominal muscles, known as diastasis recti. This proved very effective for new mothers, I had a woman with an inch gap from her birth 4 years prior.

Questions and answers about the postnatal recovery massage

What are the benefits of the postnatal recovery massage over closing the bones?

  • It is much easier on the body of the therapist. Working on the table allows you to use your body weight to provide the strength needed to rock the body with the rebozo, and to do the massage movements. You can move easily around the table, staying comfortable, without needing to kneel or squat as you do on the floor. Recently, I was delighted to hear from a friend who had a knee injury that learning the ritual meant that she could offer the massage again, much to her delight, and with amazing results.
  • It requires less space than a mat on the floor, making it more suited to a small therapy room.
  • There are more massage techniques than in the original massage, and they are more technical (for example: one is designed to help reduce the rib flare after birth, one to close the diastasis recti and one to pump lymphatic fluid around the chest), and some of the original massage movements have been modified to make them more effective. 
  • Some women may feel more appealing to be massaged on a table rather than on the floor because being massaged on a table is the norm in the Western world. In this respect this massage may appeal to a broader audience than the floor work.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • This is a very personal preference, but since I do both the floor version and the table version of the massage (and blend some of the techniques together), there are aspects of both I wish I could do in both settings and this just isn’t possible. So there are aspects of the treatment I like more on the floor (for example, the rebozo rocking, because standing over the person means that you can cocoon the body in a way you cannot do from the side of a table), and there are also movements can only be done easily on the massage table due to the need to use one’s body weight to do them (for example the rib massage or collarbone massage, are much more effective on the table)
  • The rocking with the rebozo is quicker on the floor as it rocks both sides of the body at once, instead of one side at a time on the table.
  • Some women prefer the floor version of the ritual as they find it more “earthy”.

Are we going to offer an online version of the massage?

  • Many people have contacted me to ask for this. As the massage techniques are quite technically precise, we do not feel that we could teach this effectively without being present to demonstrate and correct our students.

If you feel the call to be part of this transformative movement, to embrace the nurturing power of the Postnatal Recovery Massage, and to change the face of postnatal support, one ritual at a time, join us on this workshop. Teddy and I are teaching the ritual together on Monday the 23rd of September in Abington, near Cambridge, UK.

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