Everywhere in the world, new mothers used to have a period of rest and healing after the birth. During about a month, the new mother would be cared for by the community. Her house would be taken care of, and all she would do, would rest, be fed nutritious food, and be nurtured postpartum specific bodywork.

Out of the four pillars of the postpartum (community support, rest, food and bodywork), the bodywork aspect seems to be the most forgotten one. Even if new mothers are often left without support, I think many of us still understand that new mothers need community support, rest and food. The bodywork, on the other hand, is not only completely absent, but it isn’t even within our consciousness.

In the UK, new mothers are invited to have a check up with their doctor about 6 weeks after birth. The check is question is usually a 10 min appointment chat, without any physical examination whatsoever. And yet this appointment is considered a clean bill of health, with many people believing that all is well once this has happened, and many activities (such as massage) being prohibited until the appointment has happened.

This makes absolutely no sense. And sadly the statistics are very telling, because 1 in 3 new mothers experience urinary incontinence at 3 months postpartum and nearly one in 2 still has diastasis recti at 6 months postpartum. Research shows that it takes on average 8-10 years post birth for women to seek help for such issues.

Traditional wisdom understands that during the first 4-6 weeks postpartum, when the body is still plastic and resetting itself post birth, there is a unique opportunity for healing. Traditional postpartum bodywork usually include specific massages which are often akin to empirical osteopathy, binding/wrapping the belly and pelvis, and keeping the new mother warm.

Postpartum specific massages, such as closing the bones, understand this need and the window of opportunity, and are designed speed up healing on a  physical, emotional and energetic level.

Since we seem to have forgotten this wisdom, what can we do to replace it?

Postnatal specific therapies:

How soon to have treatment/bodywork?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no scientific evidence behind waiting until 6 weeks have elapsed. As I explain in this blog, the 6 weeks wait isn’t based on any evidence, but rather dictated by insurance companies. We cannot be prescriptive about when to have it because it will depend on your birth, and when you feel ready, but having a treatment (or better still, a course of treatments) as soon as possible during the first 6-8 weeks is when you will benefit the most. Having massaged many new mothers, some as soon as 24h post birth, I can attest that this is when the bodywork is the most effective to speed up healing. Even if you had a caesarean, some of the bodywork can be adapted to avoid the lower abdomen and still be hugely beneficial to help with both wellbeing and healing.

What can I do for myself?

  • Read my book, Why postnatal recovery matters
  • Write a postnatal recovery plan, which is like a birth plan but for the postpartum. You can use the 4 pillars of postnatal recovery (Social support, rest, food and bodywork) to write such a plan (you can download a free template here), and make sure to include bodywork. Rather than lots of presents for the baby, you could ask for gifts vouchers towards postnatal bodywork.
  • Plan to wrap your belly and hips. It is easier than you think, I wrote a blog about it which includes many different options and tutorial tutorials. You can wrap post cesarean as well as post vaginal birth. Again, the sooner the better.
  • Plan ways to keep warm: As well as wearing warm, cosy clothes ( the belly wrapping will help with this too), think about consuming warm and warming (as in warming spices and ingredients) foods and drinks.

What can I do to support new mothers?

  • Read Why postnatal recovery matters, or gift it to an expectant family
  • Help expectant families to prepare for the postpartum. Offer physical support in the early days so they can rest and heal.
  • Give them a voucher towards postpartum bodywork and offer to look after the baby whilst they have their treatment


I am in the process of completing an online closing the bones course, which will be launched in February. I will be offering a free Webinar on postpartum bodywork in February too. Feel free to signup for my newsletter below if you’d like know when these will happen.

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