WOMEN'S HEALTH The tender touch

Expectant mothers lug around a lot of extra weight, straining their backs, causing their feet and legs to swell, and stressing the muscles in their necks, shoulders and backs. Mom Massage to the rescue.
Dawn E. Wainwright, a certified massotherapist and owner of Mom Massage, specializes in pregnancy massage. Her practice is based at Bodies in Balance, North Lima.
"A lot of people don't even know that you can get massaged while you're pregnant," she said. In fact, massage helps the expectant mother feel more comfortable and helps her body shed excess stress hormones, which benefits the baby, Wainwright said.
Wainwright also helps pregnant women master breathing and visualization techniques that they can use during labor. "I teach women to work with their bodies rather than against them," she said.
Massages for pregnant women are available to any woman in her second or third trimester. Because women in their first trimester are at a greater risk for miscarriage, Wainwright said she will not massage them. She also encourages women to discuss their plans for getting massages with their physicians.
Shifting focus: For most moms-in-waiting, the focus is on the baby. "Everybody wants to know when the baby's due, if it's a boy or a girl. They might ask the mom how she's feeling, but that's about all," Wainwright said. "I make sure the moms get the attention they should be getting."
Massages not only help the moms feel better, she continued, a gentle massage of mom's abdomen stimulates the baby. "That's the most fascinating thing I deal with," Wainwright said. "Once I was doing a massage and I could feel the baby's back. He was getting a massage while I was massaging his mom. When I stopped, he started kicking. When I started rubbing [his mother's] belly again, he stopped."
Another experience Wainwright recalled was massaging one side of a woman's abdomen. When the mom switched sides, the baby moved too; he moved toward Wainwright's touch.
"Babies can hear you and feel you, so I'm always telling moms, 'Rub that belly,'" she said.
Painless: Sabrina Shapiro, who is expecting her second child "in about a week" has found Wainwright's massages especially helpful. "They've helped me tremendously. They've made a huge difference," the Liberty resident said. "I have less discomfort in my lower back and less cramping in my legs -- I was getting really bad cramps in my calves. They were waking me up."
Shapiro has had one massage a week for the last month and has learned how to stretch so that she can make herself more comfortable. "Dawn's also showed me things my husband can do to help me during labor," Shapiro said.
Had she known about Mom Massage months ago, Shapiro said she would have had massages throughout her second and third trimesters of pregnancy. "It makes me feel better, and Dawn is very conscientious making sure I'm comfortable and safe -- it's a little scary getting a massage when you're pregnant," she said. "I've read about it and knew that getting a massage is fine toward the end of your pregnancy. I had been looking for someone who does it but couldn't find anyone." Eventually, Shapiro learned about Wainwright through a mutual acquaintance.
After birth: Although Wainwright offers massage during labor, Shapiro hasn't planned for that. She is, however, planning to have at least one postpartum massage, and she'll take her new baby with her.
A postpartum massage is a great time for moms to bond with their babies, Wainwright said. "While I'm massaging mom, she massages the baby without even realizing it."
Wainwright offers 11-session packages for pregnant women that coincide with their doctors' appointments: once a month during the fourth through seventh months, twice during the eighth month, once a week during the ninth month and one postpartum massage. The package for 11 one-hour massages costs $495; 11 90-minute massages costs $620. Of course, Wainwright said, packages can be customized to meet each client's specific needs. Individual one-hour massages cost $50; 90-minute sessions cost $65. Prices for massages during labor are negotiated on an individual basis.

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