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The 7 Ways To Sleep Like A Baby During Pregnancy… and Beyond

Did you know that you will spend 1/3 of your life sleeping? Yet so many of us find it difficult to either fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up feeling refreshed.

As a massage therapist I am used to expectant mums falling asleep on the treatment table, which is why I have compiled my top tips to sleeping like a baby during pregnancy and beyond.

If you are not planning on having any more kids, read on, these tips can help you too!

 

  1. Set the Mood

Having a comfortable and cozy bedroom set up can help you drift of deeply and easily. Making sure that your bedroom is dark, that temperature is not too hot and that your bedding and linen is nice and soft. A dark bedroom will help you regulate your natural sleep hormone, melatonin and ensure that you can rest easily. If your room is too bright due to street lights, or other disturbances, you can always try using an eye mask to block out light.

As a massage therapist I am extremely kinesthetic (ie touchy feely) the way fabrics feel are so important to me! I will treat myself to plush 1000 sheet thread count sheets and soft fabrics because I know how important it is for me to feel comfortable.

 

  1. Create a Sleep Ritual

We are creatures of habit. We eat the same thing for breakfast, brush our teeth the same way, put our pants on the same way, drive the same route to work. And when we are trying to sleep, certain habits can signal that it’s time to unwind and go to dream land.

Having a routine can help you to unwind from a busy day. You can try to create good sleep habits by setting and sticking to a bed time, having a shower or bath and stretching before bed. Many of the tips in this blog can be included in your sleep routine, such as writing down your worries and meditating. It is important to stick to the same routine on weekends as well so that you can form a new helpful habit. Whatever you do, creating a routine around sleep can form a vital step to improving your quality and quantity of sleep.

 

  1. Meditate

With our busy lives its important to make time to stop. Not just physically, but mentally as well. Experts say that we have around 60,000 – 80,000 per day. That’s incredible! Our brain is non-stop chatting away to us, helping us to interpret our lives. But, when we are trying to sleep, it can be hard to stop the chatter. One way to do this is to meditate. Making a conscious effort to still the mind.

If you are a beginner, you can start by becoming still and focusing on your breathing. Sit still. And take a few slow deep breaths. Focus your mind on each in breath and out breath. If you get distracted by thoughts, that’s OK, just return to the breath once you realize when has happened.

If you struggle to meditate on your own there are a trillion apps that can help. Just search your app store on your smart phone and find one that suits you.

 

  1. Write your worries down

For some reason it can take a weight off your mind to see your worries written in front of you. And the best thing is – there is not right or wrong way to do this. Perhaps you need to vent your spleen and get your emotions out on paper. Or maybe you have so much to do and you don’t know where to start, so you write a to do list for yourself.  Whatever you do, writing is a cathartic way to express worries, fears and anxieties in such a way that makes them appear more manageable.

Worrying about something at 3am is pointless, because there is nothing you can do – everyone else is asleep. Writing down what you want to do about the worry can be helpful as it will free your mind from having to remember it. If it is written down, then you can read it in the morning after you have had a great night’s sleep.

 

  1. No devices in the bedroom

Experts in sleep will tell you to remove devices such as smart phones, TVs and laptops from the bedroom. The reason is that the blue light emitted from these devices messes up our circadian rhythm (our wakefulness and sleepiness patterns) and can reduce melatonin, the hormone that is essential for sleep.

And I can already hear you say, “But my phone is my alarm, I need it in the bedroom”. Well guess what – Kmart have $10 alarm clock radios AND I am sure that if you charged your phone in another room and set your alarm tone to the loudest setting, you will be able to hear it. Plus, the act of getting up to turn the alarm off will prevent you from hitting the snooze button 100 times.

 

  1. Regular massage

“I’m sorry if I fall asleep” is a common phrase I hear in the treatment room. Exhausted expectant mums, craving blissful slumber. Massage during pregnancy helps to ease nervous tension and helps mum to relax. As massage reduces muscular tension, you will feel more relaxed and reduce the sleep disturbances that may be caused by bodily aches and pains

A relaxed mum will be able to sleep more easily and deeply.  And the proof Is in the pudding, a lot of my expectant mum’s tell me that they have had the best nights sleep the night of their massage treatment.

 

  1. Build a pillow fort

Expectant mums are often overwhelmed when they see the number of pillows that I use in a massage treatment. But once they are on the table, they feel relaxed and supported and most importantly comfortable. During pregnancy, side lying is the recommended sleeping position and the following set up will help you feel relaxed and comfortable.

I recommend the use of the Denton’s pregnancy pillow to support the growing belly and reduce ligament strain in the abdomen, then place a fat but firm pillow between the knees to take pressure off the lower back, and pop finally a “cuddle” pillow between the forearms to keep the shoulders square and to reduce neck strain and carpal tunnel symptoms.

You can see a video on how to roll the “Cuddle” pillow here: https://www.facebook.com/lauracalderonemassagetherapy/videos/1072004672939531/

You don’t need to be pregnant to replicate the pillow fort, in fact, this set up will help you reduce low back, hip and shoulder pain while you sleep.

You can see a video on the table set up here: https://www.facebook.com/lauracalderonemassagetherapy/videos/1606674316144866/

 

If you would like more information about our services contact us or book your next appointment now!

 

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7 Secrets For A Comfortable Pregnancy and Labour

It’s really no secret that pregnancy can be difficult at times. Aside from the morning sickness (or any time of day sickness), aches and pain, swollen feet and insomnia seem to be part and parcel of growing a tiny human from scratch.
But that doesn’t mean you need to struggle through it.

I speak to a lot of mums and couples that are anxious about labour and childbirth. I have discovered that it doesn’t matter if it’s your first pregnancy or your second or third, anxiety and apprehension can still exist.

In my latest blog post, I delve into the secrets to make pregnancy and birth a better experience, pooling together all the conversations I have had with my clients so far.

 

  1. Regular Massage (before baby comes along)

A no brainer for me, the pregnancy massage specialist. Massage during pregnancy can help reduce back and joint pain, improve circulation and blood supply for your baby, and improve sleep. But did you know that massage also reduces stress and anxiety, as it soothes the nervous system and boosts mood. Pregnancy massage is a specialized treatment that uses techniques specific to the common musculoskeletal issues that are unique to pregnancy, while also promoting relaxation and enhancing the mother-baby connection. Learn more about pregnancy massage here.

  1. Nutrition

During pregnancy proper nutrition is important. I often treat mums who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I always recommend my clients seek support from a dietitian or nutritionist if they need help during their pregnancy.  When it comes to Labour, remember its long-game. Plan and ensure that you are fueling your body with nourishing food that will go the distance. Small regular snacks can help.

  1. Pea-sized Bladder

One thing I ask my clients before their massage is if they need to go to the bathroom before we start the treatment. During pregnancy you will go to the toilet – frequently. Afterall, you do have a tiny human using your bladder as a pillow, so there’s no wonder why you have the urge to pee every 5 minutes (or less).

  1. Get More Sleep

Pregnant women are tired. Why? Well, it takes a lot of energy to create a whole new person. It’s exhausting work. Massage during pregnancy can help to improve sleep patterns. Often my clients tell me that slept well the night of their massage. During the early stages of labour It may seem like an impossible task – but try to sleep. As we are mammals, we tend to natural labour at night, when it is safest. Try to rest as much as you can. This will help to build you energy reserves as labour can last forever!

  1. Do a Poo before you bear down

Bearing down and pushing a baby from your vagina mimics the actions required to do a poo. And women can poo during birth. Simple as that. But not to worry, the doctors and nurses will ensure that your baby is not covered in poo, and the clean-up will be swift and quick. It will mean however that another boundary between you and your partner will be crossed. But hey, at the end of the day you will have a baby and what is better than that?

  1. Hang out in Down Dog

Gentle exercise during pregnancy can help support your body as it changes. Relaxing in the lead up to labour will do wonders once contractions start. Most pre-natal yoga classes focus on breathwork, as well as movement and stretching. You can use these techniques in the birth suite to help you feel comfortable and relaxed.

  1. Labour Massage

Having partner confident if giving massage can help mum to feel more relaxed, with reduced feelings of anxiety and apprehension about the birth. Physical touch can boost oxytocin, a must for labour, and massage can bring couples closer together. Massage at home and then recommencing at hospital can help to stabilize contractions, which often stall during travel from home to hospital (or other birth place). Plus, massage gives your partner a role during labour and helps them to become involved in the birth. Learn more about partner massage here.

 

If you would like more information about our services contact us or book your next appointment now!

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The 7 Words I Hate To Hear In The Treatment Room

Being a massage therapist is a pretty rewarding career. Every day, I get the opportunity to help women relax and feel more comfortable during their pregnancy. I am completely comfortable talking to my clients about the various aches and pains common in pregnancy, even the ones that are often a taboo to speak of in public (did someone say vulvar varicose veins?! Ouch!). Needless to say nothing really shocks me much anymore. But – there is still ONE sentence that grinds my gears and causes me to fume at the ears.

These Seven Words: “I’m sorry I didn’t shave my legs”.

So, why does it bug me so much when an expectant mum tells me that she hasn’t shaved her legs? As women, it’s part of our beauty regime. It’s what we do.  We shave, and wax and pluck.  And we sometime forget to do it on days when our legs will be exposed or seen by others. Oh, the Horror!

But ya know what? I don’t care! I don’t care if your legs are prickly and hairy cos you haven’t shaved them in a day or two or even a week! And while we are on the subject of things I don’t care about: I don’t care if your feet are sweaty or if you are wearing daggy undies or if you are wearing slobby clothes, or if you have dry skin.

I am not judging your body in any way – and I am just glad that you are wearing undies (as this is an occupational health and safety requirement). What I am doing is noting what your muscles look like. Is you posture in alignment or out of balance? Are your hips rotating more to one side? Is one shoulder tighter than the other? By looking beyond your superficial appearance I am trying to work out how you use your body and how to best treat it so that you feel amazing after your massage.

Might I add, that every single male client that I have treated has NEVER ever apologized for their hairy legs (or back for that matter).

We must stop feeling ashamed of our bodies and the natural hair that it grows. Leg hair, pit hair, smelly and sweaty feet at all normal. The sooner we embrace our bodies and the amazing the things that they do (such as create a tiny human from just a few tiny cells) the sooner you can feel at ease as soon as you lie on the massage table.

Here are some things I do care about:

I care that you make the time for massage during your pregnancy. Massage not only eases physical aches and pains, but can help expectant mums’ to ease nervous tension, improve sleep and supports the mother-baby connection.

I care that you are getting the support that you need throughout your pregnancy journey and into motherhood, whether that’s self-care after baby, information about postnatal exercise, coping with emotional changes.

I care that you arrive to your appointment on time so that I can dedicate as much time as possible to you and only you. I care that you make regular appointments as a commitment to yourself that you deserve time out and to feel good. I care that you tell me if the pressure is too firm, too soft or if something in the massage isn’t; quite right or if you are loving every single second and want another half hour on the table.

So, don’t sweat the small stuff. And I’ll do my best to care for you, hairy legs and all.

 

You can find out more about our services here. Ready to book your next appointment? Click here.

 

 

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The 4 Ways Massage Helps You Beat Stress During Your Pregnancy

While a welcomed blessing for most, pregnancy brings world of change for all involved. Pregnancy is a time of turbulent emotions, from euphoria and joy to emotional upheaval and anxiety. Relationship, financial and socio-economic stressors can impact the mother’s experience of pregnancy.

 

Flight or Fight

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system – the body’s internal “flight-or-fight” response when we experience stress. This response stimulates the production of adrenaline, which can be helpful in responding to emergencies, such as stopping a child from running across a busy road, or slamming of the breaks to avoid a collision with another car. However, chronic and continual arousal of the sympathetic nervous system can have detrimental effects to health. In this state, blood supply in prioritised, and can impact the amount of oxygen and blood circulation to the baby.

Most child birth education programs focus on relaxation. There is an increased chance for positive birth experiences in addition to increased well-being for mother and baby when stress-reduction activities become a part of the mother’s routine.

 

Relax and Let Go

Relaxation elicits the parasympathetic nervous system, creating physiological balance and improved functioning. When functioning in a relaxed state, the mother will have steady blood pressure and blood and circulation to the uterus, foetus and placenta; improved immune system functioning; and the ability to respond better to stressful events and a reduced experience of anxiety.

In addition to creating bolstering feelings of well-being, improving functioning and increasing optimism, certain types of massage are relaxing, and cause the mother to shift her focus internally and “let go” of the outside world. This internal reflection is not only soothing, but it can prepare the mother for labour and birth.

Massage is conductive to eliciting relaxation responses as the setting is quiet with minimal disruptions and regular and deep breathing rates can be sustained.

 

Massage the Cornerstone of Relaxation

Pregnancy massage is a time to pause and acknowledge the physical, emotional and mental changes that occur during pregnancy. Not every pregnancy is the same, so treatment is tailored to suit the needs of mum-to-be. Pregnancy Massage uses techniques specific to the common musculoskeletal issues that are unique to pregnancy.

Some of the benefits of pregnancy massage include:

  • Reduced back and joint pain, making you feel more comfortable as your baby develops
  • Improved circulation and blood supply for your baby
  • Reduced oedema and swelling, creating a feeling of lightness
  • Reduced muscle tension and headaches
  • Reduced stress and anxiety, as massage soothes the nervous system and boosts mood
  • Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
  • Better sleep

 

Comfort Matters

Pregnancy massage is a soothing and nurturing treatment. The comfort of the mother-to-be is paramount and as such, treatment is performed side-lying, with pillows for support at the head and legs and a Denton’s pillow placed under the belly. From a side lying position, the massage therapist has access to the back, hips and glutes which are commonly sore and tense during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Massage assists in remedying many of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as:

  • muscular discomforts, lower-back pain, upper-back pain, neck pain
  • headaches
  • leg cramps
  • sciatica
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • fatigue
  • oedema of the lower extremities
  • sacroiliac and hip joint pain
  • constipation

Ensuring the comfort of mum and baby are the number one priorities when providing a pregnancy treatment. The treatment will only begin when mum and baby feel comfortable on the massage table.

Coordinating your massage treatment with your GP, OB/GYN or midwife appointments ensures that we can provide you with the best treatment relative to you and your baby’s development.

If you would like more information or advice to see if Pregnancy Massage is right for you, contact us or book your next appointment now!

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Mind the Bump – What Happens When There Are More Than Two People in The Treatment Room

Mind the Bump – What Happens When There Are More Than Two People in The Treatment Room

 

It’s no secret that I love what I do. And why wouldn’t I? Every day, I am privileged to support women through pregnancy and into motherhood with massage.

We all know that massage is amazing for the usual aches and pain of life – from spending too much time at your desk, hunched over a computer – to pushing it too hard at the gym on leg day. But massage during pregnancy is a whole other ball game.

Pregnancy is a unique stage of human life and while the muscular discomforts that are experienced are the same, every pregnancy journey is different and affects women is acutely different ways.

One of my mums asked me “What makes pregnancy massage feel so good?” My simple reply was, “Well, I am massaging two of you, so the effect is doubled.”

One of the things that makes pregnancy massage so different is that there are two people on the massage table. And in the case of multiple babies, there will be three or even four people on the table!

One of the greatest privileges I have is massaging a pregnant woman’s abdomen. A lot of women shy away from this. And I get it, the stomach in a sensitive area for most women, especially if there are issues around body image and we tend to store a lot of emotions in this region. But especially in pregnancy, doctors and midwives poke and prod and even complete strangers feel the urge to touch your belly without consent.

In pregnancy massage balance is vital. Back spasms are common in pregnancy and this can be the bodies attempt to balance the body as the center of gravity shifts forward to cope with the weight of baby and postural changes.

The benefits of massaging the abdomen are numerous. Massage supports the abdominal muscles, eases the load on the lumbar spine and can aid in alleviating the abdominal separation. In addition to the physical benefits, massage can enhance the mother-baby connection. During this time, the mother can draw her attention to her abdomen and connect with the movements of her baby.

Quite often during am abdomen massage, I can feel the baby kick, or press again my palm. And I must admit this is a special moment too. It’s moments like this the may me realise that mum is not the only one receiving the benefits of the massage.

The quote “good for mum, good for baby” rings true in the scope of pregnancy massage. Whatever mum is experiencing, baby will experience.  It is important that mum makes time to relax and look after herself.

If you want to learn more about how massage can help you during your pregnancy, please contact Laura on 0407 512 009 or book an appointment now.

 

For more information on the benefits of pregnancy massage, please visit the blog archive.