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Transcripts: 492.1 & 492.2

Week: 492.1 Guest: Rhonnda Neumann Topic Massage for Mothers and Infants Part One: Host: Richard Roeder Producer: Ed Graham

NEMA: This is the first half of a conversation on massage for pregnant women and their babies. My guest is Certified and Licensed Massage Therapist Rhonnda Neumann from Health and Image Consultants in Alexandria, Virginia.

NEMA: Ms. Neumann, is the idea of massage therapy for a pregnant woman a new one or has this been done historically?

Neumann: Historically in many cultures, massage therapy has been part of pregnancy. You can look to countries like India who have always used massage as part of just general daily care, however, it is a fairly new concept as far as formally introducing it into part of woman's pregnancy plan.

NEMA: What are some of the reasons that massage therapy is desirable for a pregnant woman and how early on in her pregnancy should the therapy begin?

Neumann: Good questions. Well, as anyone who has been pregnant can tell you, it's an incredible change of your body. There's a lot of fatigue and stresses that are related to the act of being pregnant, if you will. It's a time of a lot of changes, your entire body's adapting to this new life growing inside of you, there are a lot of emotional changes that occur with that as well. So massage provides a wonderful way, first of all, for the woman to relax, to also boost her energy, and help her relieve many of the discomforts musculo skeletally of her pregnancy. Massage is also an educational program, if you will, on bringing an awareness to the woman about where she's holding tension in her body and I can help her learn ways to cope with the tension, breathing, exercises, overall just improvement and feeling better during the pregnancy.

NEMA: Has it been pretty well universally deemed that massage therapy is safe for pregnant women?

Neumann: There are some contra indications. During the first trimester, there are certain parts of the body that really do not need to be addressed with massage. During the first trimester, it's always sort of that wait and see and make sure everything's okay period and traditionally massage can be done definitely on certain areas like the back, the neck, the lower back, the hands and arms. We usually try to stay away from the legs and feet. Now as you get on with the pregnancy, massage is very healthful and enjoyable if the pregnancy is normal but because massage isn't appropriate for some conditions, I as a therapist will want to know about the general health of a woman's pregnancy. I may want to speak with her doctor or midwife about the situation and then we tailor the session according to that.

NEMA: Certainly pregnancy is a unique situation physiologically that's different from really all other states of life. Have special techniques been developed for pregnancy massage that are unique to this circumstance?

Neumann: Definitely. First of all, I'll reiterate that self care techniques are taught during the session. There's a lot more discussion between the client and the massage therapist than there normally would be in a normal massage therapy session. I want to keep in real close contact with how the woman is feeling and help her know ways that she can release and relax not just during her pregnancy but even during labor and delivery. Also we do work on a pregnant woman side lying or in a position where she obviously can't lay on her stomach. There are special tables that are designed for that purpose. I don't like using them. Some practitioners do but for the most part you'll find a woman lying on her side propped a lot with cushions and pillows to make her very very comfortable.

NEMA: Join me for part two on massage with Rhonnda Neumann.

Week: 492.2 Guest: Rhonnda Neumann Topic: Massage for Mothers and Infants Part Two Host: Richard Roeder Producer: Ed Graham

NEMA: This is the second half of a conversation on massage for pregnant women and their babies. My guest is Certified and Licensed Massage Therapist Rhonnda Neumann from Health and Image Consultants in Alexandria, Virginia.

Neumann: For the most part you'll find a woman lying on her side propped a lot with cushions and pillows to make her very comfortable. You might need less or more blankets and you want to keep the environment free of a lot of heavy odors and smells because women can be very nauseous during this time too.

NEMA: How far into the pregnancy can massage be used and can you even participate in the labor or maybe the birth process as a massage therapist?

Neumann: Yes you can. It can be from day one to actual labor and delivery. Now a massage therapist's role is certainly not to take the place of the midwife or the doctor but she can be there or the massage therapist can be there to help remind the woman of these relaxation techniques, of breathing techniques, of offering counter pressure during certain contraction states, to massage areas that are becoming very tense and sore through the actual labor and delivery so yes, from day one to the actual delivery of the baby, massage therapy can be of benefit.

NEMA: How about the value of massage for the mother after the baby has been born?

Neumann: Probably more than any other time, yes, the post partum period as nature sets about undoing in eight weeks what took nine months to happen so there are incredible physiological changes that occur. Massage can help the woman handle the physical demands of caring for the newborn by reducing tension, increasing energy, it can speed the healing of any episiotomies or if she's had a C section. I can also work with her on scar tissue in time to help that scar tissue disappear if she's had a C section. If she's nursing, a relaxing massage can help her have the let down reflex. It can release the tension that often interferes with the milk let down. And psychologically, massage can be very nurturing for her. You hear about post partum blues when so much of the attention is focused on the baby. This is a time when the woman needs a lot of nurturing and attention so massage can also serve that purpose.

NEMA: One of the most fascinating dimensions of your program is baby massage. That is a new idea to me. Would you talk about that a little bit.

Neumann: Well, it's certainly not a new idea to many many cultures. Again, I'll go back to India where the mother in an East Indian family massages everyone in the family from the time they're born up until the day they die. Infant massage especially for primis or babies who have experienced difficult births can be incredible. The power of human touch is very healing in and of itself but when you actually have a plan of massage for a newborn, it can help them release for a healthy baby release the womb tension that you can imagine for nine months being in this space where your little arms and hands are cramped in front of you. Massage can help them open up. It can assist pre mature babies in catching up. It enhances overall development and promotes parent/infant bonding because in infant massage it's not just me massaging the infant. It's me teaching the parent to massage their infant. Babies tend to be more coordinated who've been massaged. Children who've received touch are much more loving and open to hugging and are more demonstrative physically.


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