If one of your specialty massage techniques is Hawaiian healing, you have the perfect client in a mom-to-be. While this type of massage addresses many of same issues as other modalities, Hawaiian massage (also known as Lomi Lomi) not only offers physical benefits, but mental and spiritual benefits, as well.
Carrie Rowell, owner of Hamoea Healing Arts in Hawaii, internationally known Hawaiian pregnancy massage practitioner and instructor and doula, begins every session with prayer (Pule) and conversation with the client to get a sense of her mental state and any fears or anxieties she might like to release or intentions on which she’d like to focus her energy during the session. This information makes the therapist aware of areas on which to concentrate.
For the most part, Hawaiian pregnancy massage uses the same strokes you would use for a non-pregnant client. Long, flowing strokes with the forearm weave around the body to decrease muscle strain, restore postural balance and treat the common discomforts of pregnancy. You might also use other techniques, such as compression, deep tissue work, range of motion and interactive resistance.
“The rhythmic movement of the massage is designed to induce a trance state that can be revisited during labor to help cope with the intense sensations [the client] will experience,” Rowell explained. “I usually work with a woman several times during her pregnancy doing ho’oponopono (making things right/forgiveness and responsibility) to release any stagnant or negative thoughts or emotions that might hinder her being fully engaged in a positive way with herself, her baby and everyone around her. We can also use ho’upu’upu, a form of hypnosis or thought implantation, to steer her in a positive direction, give her courage, strength and call in whatever she wants to manifest.”
Rowell said she prefers to use the same piece of music at every session for the client and often provides a copy to use at home or during labor to induce a trained relaxation response.
“What makes the work different than other prenatal sessions is the flowing long strokes connecting the whole body, the attention to honoring all aspects of the woman: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual,” Rowell said. “The goal in any lomi session is lokahi or unity, all parts working together as one, uniting mind body and spirit. In the case of a pregnant woman, you are treating two beings and connecting her not only to her own body and energy, but also to that of her child, as well.”
Of course, pregnant clients require special treatment and some caution must be exercised. Although visceral manipulation is part of traditional Hawaiian massage, Rowell said she advises therapists to skip this part of treatment.
“I would consider it a contraindication,” she said. “[But] it can be helpful in the post-partum period, especially in the case of prolapse.”
Additionally, Rowell said she advises against using heat or steam therapy and recommends therapists be mindful not to work the inner legs or to go deep in areas where clots might form.
Hawaiian pregnancy massage may be just what your expectant client needs—a virtual escape from reality with a one-hour trip to paradise.