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BHP006: What is a Pregnancy massage?
On this episode of The Truth about Massage Therapy Podcast, Krzys interview Suzanne Yates at Wellmother.org
Suzanne first began studying Shiatsu and massage 30 years ago, and in 1990 established Well Mother to support the wisdom of parents and babies with shiatsu and massage.
Since then, all aspects of maternity care, including pioneering work with shiatsu for midwives, has remained a main focus of her work. This has led her to develop her work with the Extraordinary Vessels and more recently the Families of meridians and super meridians. She sees that the maternity period for mother and baby has a profound impact on us all at all stages of our lives.
She teaches regularly throughout Europe and worldwide and is supported by a team of teachers. She has published 3 books “Shiatsu for Midwives” “Beautiful Birth” and Pregnancy and childbirth: a holistic guide to massage and bodywork”
“just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.”
Tag a Guest Game:
Links mentioned in this episode:
A Facebook page for the book which is being reprinted in November:
Well Mother facebook page
Well Mother Website
KRZYS: So welcome Suzanne and thank you for joining me here at the BusyHive Podcast.
SUZANNE: It’s my pleasure.
KRZYS: So this is amazing! I need to mention this, cause I came to visit Suzanne and what we are doing is sitting and recording in her garden. It’s really, really super sunny and so you might hear a little bit of the wind. I’m sitting next to a pot of mint which smells amazing and you might hear a little bees and flies around but that’s just the bonus. So here at the Busy Hive, we like to start our show with our guest’s favourite quote. It’s kind of our way of getting everybody motivated and excited for the rest of the show. So, Suzanne, can you tell us what’s your favourite quote and why?
SUZANNE: It’s quite difficult because I have lots of favourite quotes but I thought I’d choose just a nice, happy, fun quote to get us started; which is a quote by Ella Fitzgerald, interestingly. I thought I’d choose something, not a normal quote that might expect me to come up with and this one is “just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.” Where there is love is love and inspiration I don’t think you can go wrong. So for me that’s important because it’s about enjoying what we do and having fun doing it and being playful and being creative, but also coming from this inspired place. But especially in the field of massage, it’s about love and love, well obviously wanting to do lots of really good work with other people, but I think it’s also really important to love ourselves and make sure we look after ourselves as well in the work that we do.
KRZYS: That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing that! So her at Busy Hive we focus on the beginnings of our journey. So why don’t you tell us, how did you get started and how did you get to the point that you are today?
SUZANNE: Well beginnings I think are interesting and initially I didn’t think really start getting into massage and shiatsu with the idea of being a therapist. I actually wanted to be a writer initially and I…
KRZYS: Oh well, that’s a completely different direction!
SUZANNE: Yeah, completely different. So, I studied French and Italian at Bristol cause I thought that would be quite a good way of broadening my knowledge of Literature and then I decided I wanted, I was working on my first novel. So, at the time I thought I needed to look after myself and do something physical and while being a student I became ill, basically through over work and stress and having kidney infection. So I wanted to, and during that time I was looking at things like acupuncture and herbs. When I received treatment, acupuncture and herbs and also while I was a student I got into things like yoga and meditation and that was my focus really, looking after myself to start with; and that was really how I got drawn into studying massage and shiatsu. Especially with Shiatsu and I think massage is a great treatment but with Shiatsu there even more of an emphasis of looking after yourself cause it’s based on old principles of Chinese medicine and we are using our body to work with people so our body needs to be in good shape, basically! So I really enjoyed the Shiatsu training because a lot of that was personal development, self-development work, it’s a three year training as well.
KRZYS: And where, where did you train?
SUZANNE: Well initially I started training in Bristol and it was back in the early eighties when Shiatsu was in its infancy in the UK and I just did some evening courses and I wanted to develop it more so I switched teachers and initially we were actually doing our courses at the Cancer Help Centre which now, which used to be in the centre of Bristol and now that’s become very successful in that side on the edges of Bristol cause it needed to move to bigger premises. So my first year, a lot of the training was there which was great because it was also most in that whole diet and looking after yourself and that holistic approach and then my teacher wanted a bigger centre of her own and that was in Herefordshire. And so we did residential courses and been, be working a lot with nature and exploring the elements and it was very experiential.
KRZYS: Okay, so with Shiatsu course finished, so what’s what was next?
SUZANNE: So my teach… so then I’d actually thought, well now I’ve spent all these years studying(laughter) I might as well use the skills that I have. So it was an interesting journey cause I hadn’t set out to be a Massage Therapist or Shiatsu Practitioner particular. I just enjoyed the training; I was really just doing it for me.
KYRZS: So when, when’s that change you know, you want to be a writer?
SUZANNE: Well then I realized I still carried on doing some writing but I thought well it’s, it’s good to have a balance so I could write and also do massage and shiatsu so that’s what I did. So that was in the, in the mid, late eighties (80’s) probably by the time cause I’ve done my various bits of training and I did a bit of traveling in the middle as well! So I took my time to do it all and then I thought oh, ok, well I might as well start doing it. So I started working professionally as a therapist in 88 and then the year after I became pregnant. So then of course it did make sense for me to see oh well how does this all relate to pregnancy and what can I do to support myself and that was when I realized that lots of people were quite weary of working with pregnancy and I was thinking, but surely this is a really important time to work with people. So then while I was pregnant there weren’t any pregnant massage courses in this country at the time nor even in America but I did find an Obstetrics Physiotherapist who was teaching basically exercise and I thought well at least if I studied with her, I’d have more of an idea of how you can work with a pregnant women. She was called, she is called Elizabeth Noble and she is written quite a number of books. One of the main one is ‘Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year’. So again, the child bearing year that she was taking into account not just pregnancy but the early post natal period as well.
SUZANNE: So that’s kind of always been my focus and that was really how I started the pregnancy. I thought well I don’t really have experience of Pregnancy Massage ad Shiatsu, so I started doing exercise classes, weekly classes in Bristol.
KRZYS: For pregnant, pregnant women?
SUZANNE: For pregnant women, and that was when I set up Well Mother in 1990. I was working on that while I was pregnant. So my daughter was born in June and I started teaching my first classes in September.
SUZANNE: And the post natal classes also I was doing also, with the course I did with Elizabeth Noble we did post natal exercise and baby massage and so again at the time, 1990, no one was really doing baby massage. The Infant Massage Association which is now quite well known, I do know if it was even set up and….
KRZYS: I think that, that just came just a few years back!
SUZANNE: Yeah! It’s relatively recent and there was one other Yoga Teacher doing pregnancy yoga and this was in the whole of Bristol. So it’s a completely different situation than it is now and that was really how I started gaining a lot of experience. So I kind of got a bit deviated in a way into teaching this weekly exercise classes, but I was also then, obviously some of the people in the class would come and see me for massage and Shiatsu and also what I did set up was birth preparation workshops cause my partner was a Yoga Teacher and we thought we’d do some sessions. We did Day Workshops together and he would teach yoga and breathing…
KRZYS: For partners?
SUZANNE: For partners, yes!
KRZYS: Oh, brilliant!
SUZANNE: So for women and their partners and he would, we would together we’d teach breathing and exercise and yoga and birth positions and then we also taught massage and Shiatsu for birth.
KRZYS: That’s amazing! What a story? (Yeah) Can I just ask quickly, so what’s happened with the novel you started to as a student? Have you finished?
SUZANNE: The novel? It’s still in my cupboard upstairs. (Laughter)
KRZYS: Have you finished?
SUZANNE: I sort of finished it and I did sent if off to some publishers but it needed more work(inaudible 8:25) and I still have an idea that maybe at some point I would like to finish some writing.
KRZYS: Yeah, yeah!
SUZANNE: But it’s finished beneath to be rewritten as a, in a different form.
SUZANNE: But I think I, I still have this idea I would go back to it at some point
(Yeah) when I’ve got some time.
KYRZS: So especially, you know, you start, when you started massages, yes, and in the years exactly as you mentioned, there was, first of all there was, the massage was unknown word, it was very, very little know about massage, especially about Pregnancy Massage. (Yeah) So in your mind, can you share with us one of the challenges as a new Therapist when you start up?
SUZANNE: Well I supposed one of the new challenges then but I think it’s really different these days. Is that like you say then, nobody much really knew or saw the value of having massage or Shiatsu. It wasn’t really that well known and it was harder to get the information out because you didn’t have online connections and media so it was really in the days of putting up posters in health food shops and (Yeah!) and things like that. But I still think that’s interesting because it also, one of the things, one of the things, one of the challenges that I am going to talk about is patience; and I think in these days of social media, people often expect instant results and I still think even though you may have access more rapidly to a wider audience, you still have to be patient. And it still takes time and I still think some of the most important referrals I get are essentially through word of mouth and okay word of mouth is a bit different these days cause a lot of it is online and te… You know, there weren’t even mobile phones when I started out. But it still is, is a different form of word of mouth and again because there were so many more Therapists and so many more choices for people, it can be a bit overwhelming for people when they go online. How do they choose a Massage Therapist out of all these hundreds? So I think some of the core things are still the same that you still just have to jeep putting out information about yourself. You just have to start somewhere. One of the main things with tha.., one of the main things I remember from my main teacher of Shiatsu, Sonia Morrison, she was called. Sadly she died a few years ago, but she always said” you have to make the commitment!” So even if you only have one client a week, you take your time to prepare and you’re fully there and your present; but you also decide how many clients you want to see a week and then you block out that time in your week and then you go and sit in your treatment room. The times that you decide you want to see the client and you want to do things like studying, or exercising or meditating but you are focusing on your business and, and on the space (Mindset!) that you create for the clients. Yeah!
KRZYS: Some really, really good advice actually and I think they still, as well as us in the years like eighties and nineties. I think there are other things still, still today as okay, we have wider, wider ra… access to like Facebook, Internet and everything to more people around but I still, still want to think just to being patient as you mentioned I think is even I when I set up my clinic, things, things. I remember Andy Fagg, Director of Bristol, BCMB in Bristol, he said “exactly one think, there are things that would come, you just have to be patient (yeah) and wait, things will come!”
KRZYS: I remem…, always remem, remember that and, and it took me a year and even more, just to exactly being, actually feel that, actually I have a client, but just don’t give up and just exactly being, set your mind and focus.
KRZYS: Focus on (Inaudible 12:19)
SUZANNE: But I think also you do have to create the space, there is something about creating space cause I think…
KRZYS: Well, I’m mobile so… (Laughter)
SUZANNE: Okay, but I mean space…
SUZANNE: …in terms of, I know a lot of Therapists think, oh well, I’ll keep my fulltime job and then I’ll see people in the evenings and I mean that can be a good way to, to at least get started , but at some point you do have to make a commitment and decide, well maybe I have to reduce my other working hours and have at least a day or two where I am just focusing on building my massage practice because if you don’t give it the time, you know, it does take a lot of time building the materials, doing all the connections and also continuing to look after yourself as well! So it’s the focus, but the focus doesn’t come if your focused doing something else all the time.
KRZYS: Oh yes and in the beginnings are really, really hard and you don’t know, you know, what to do, how to start. That’s why we create The Busy Hive Community on our website which gives, gives this insight and help. However, is, as you said, “just being in the one, one space and your mindset just to get everything set and ready for what you really want and (Inaudible 13:33) you know set the clients. Just, let’s say, you know, I want to have a, by the, just have goals. (Yeah!) Slowly have goals by the, you know, let’s say three months, I want to have ten clients a week.
SUZANNE: But that’s quite, I mean actually to have ten clients a week, every week after three months that says doing really, really well!
KRZYS: It’s doable!
SUZANNE: It is doable, but yeah, I think also then if you want to do that you have to put a lot of energy and work into making that happen. So you do have to be prepared to put in the work but I agree with what you say, it’s also commitment. You just have to decide what you want to do and then really focus on your attention on that.
KRZYS: Yeah! That’s brilliant! Thank you! So Suzanne, you share a lot with us today and I really appreciate that and now we have reached my favourite, favourite part of the show. We are about to enter the part where we choose a topic on (Inaudible 14:28) conversation which relate to cloze, work and our guest. We will start with a few questions to gather some amazing insights. How does that sound like for you?
SUZANNE: Yeah! That sounds good!
KRZYS: So we all know that Pregnancy Massage has been seen as one of the, which people will taking very carefully and with caution, but in starting, everybody starting now being more accessible and there is more information about. So I just want to bring some information to our listeners about that! So can you explain, what, what is Pregnancy Massage?
SUZANNE: What is Pregnancy Massage? Well, for me, it’s more than just giving a massage where you’re focusing on releasing muscular, skeletal tension. I mean you could give a massage that would be just focused on that and it would be helpful and indeed some of my clients come, that’s their main reason why they are coming. They have backaches or they have leg cramps or something like that, but it’s also, for me, it’s much more than that because of course you’re not just working with one person, you’re working with the baby. So acknowledging the baby in some kind of way, and obviously that’s going to be different depending on each individual woman, cause I think that’s a big thing that you have to bear in mind. Okay, pregnancy is a theme but every woman and even every pregnancy is quite different. So it’s not a formula, there’s not a routine that you can teach people because some women are very well during their pregnancy and it’s the happiest time in their lives whereas some women, it can be quite difficult and they are not feeling that great. So already there’s a difference there, but yeah, because there is another being there, the baby, whether or not we actually do physically work on the abdomen, for me it’s important to acknowledge in some way so that could be just through including the baby in the questioning by talking to the mother about the position of the baby or how she is feeling about her baby. So, so feelings is quite an important part and then we can include the baby, yeah, it could just be by talking about the baby or we can include the baby with some breathing or some visualizations, again depending on what feels appropriate for each mother.
KRZYS: That’s very therapeutic! Yes!
SUZANNE: So there’s a focus and then we could include some direct physical work on the baby by working on the abdomen but even just thinking about the positions that we are putting the mother in and the impact it’s going to have on the baby, so that’s a really key thing, in a more physical way but in a more emotional way. But the other important aspect is that this is such a profound time of change on all levels for a woman especially if it’s her first baby! And so I think a Pregnancy Massage when we’re working with pregnant women, as a Therapist, I feel we have an obligation to embrace all of that and not just see the woman as coming along just for some physical work but again, it depends on how much the woman wants to talk about what’s going on for her; but at least to be aware of all of that and even if they we are not counselors, it’s just about creating a space where the mum can talk about some of the things that are going on for her and it could be issues deciding choices of her care. And again obviously we are not going to be telling her what to do but sometimes for her just to have a space to say “well, I’m thinking about this or that and just so she can work it through in a more relaxed space.
KRZYS: Now that’s amazing cause, well I’m a father; I went through this as well! I remember even the courses and we went through it with the midwives and stuff, that I found out there was not so much information. There was not so much care, there was not so much, actually, you know after, after birth and everything, there was just, we found out there were lots of things they didn’t tell us.
SUZANNE: Yeah and I think that’ part of the problem! That’s partly why I set up my work as well, because I felt midwives and midwives in the days when I started would have more time and then I think the classes they were offering were better, but I’ve noticed as the years have gone by midwives have less and less time for just talking to the mother and they are so busy focus as more and more tests and more and more risks they are having to explain to women.
SUZANNE: They don’t have time to talk about basic stuff like posture, exercise, even diet and massage. Really simple things but are the most fundamental for supporting the mother. So that’s something that is really also important that working with pregnant women, we need to be aware of all these basic things that women aren’t being made aware of. So for me, that was the integration of the exercise aspect of how I talked to you about how I, my first training in pregnancy work, was to exercise because that was the only training that there was.
SUZANNE: But I’ve actually realized that’s quite fundamental to pregnancy massage, that as a Massage Therapist, we do have an obligation to go through basic posture but then also to go through basic exercises and movements that the pregnant woman can do herself because for me, I feel I’ve failed in my role as Therapist if the woman has to come and see me every few days cause she’s got backache. I want her to have tools that she can go away with! You don’t have to be a Specialist Exercise Instructor either, but just simple postures and movements that she can do so that she doesn’t have backache or leg cramps or at least that it is reducing the back ache and leg cramps.
KRZYS: Well, this, this, you know we have to say there’s lots of misalignment and changes in the structure (yeah) happening at the time (yeah) when you know, when the baby is growing (yeah) in there. So, when did you start, have you worked with the midwives before? Have you? How does this, cause you’re doing the course of a midwife as well and how does this…?
SUZANNE: Yes, but that’s interesting, that sort of evolved as well! So again I didn’t have a, I think this comes back to the thing about the new Therapist, really be adaptable, decide how you want to start but then along the way, things might come up that you never even imagined would come up! So I started with, oh yeah, pregnancy! I want to work with pregnancy, but what happened, how I got the links with the midwives, is midwives, pregnant midwives would come to my classes when they were pregnant. And actually one of the things which might be a tip for your business, is when I first started setting up the classes, of course one of the main groups of people that I wanted to connect with were midwives. So that they knew, I mean they are not allowed to recommend classes, but to be honest there weren’t any other classes in Bristol so they would put me on their list of resources if women wanted to do exercise. I mean again, that’s a different way of making connections cause there wasn’t the Internet then but I made links with midwives and I actually offered that they could come and try one out and they could also have a free Shiatsu or massage, so they knew what I was doing. So I didn’t get loads of midwives taking up but I did get a few and then over the years, midwives would come to my classes and they’d say ” wow, this is really amazing what you are doing, you should teach midwives to do some of these!” And I was like, “really, you think I should be teaching midwives?” And they are like “yeah, but, cause what your knowledge is different from what midwives have!” So it was through, it was through the requests of the midwives and then eventually through connections. I got to do a course in St. Michael’s Hospital in Bristol for the Midwives there which was more on Shiatsu, cause Midwives also know some basic massage tools. So I wanted to integrate the Shiatsu points and some more Shiatsu connections, so I set up a Midwives Course in St. Michael’s Hospital, that’s probably in about 1999/2000. So about ten years, so I mean this show you also time. About ten years after I initially started doing my work because it does take time to build up experience and knowledge and it’s in doing it that you build up knowledge. I mean you can attend courses but at the end you just have to get out there and do it and build up the knowledge as you go along and check things out. You know, learn things, so you are constantly learning new things all the time through the work.
KRZYS: So there is one, really big concern as always as well when I was in Massage School and you know we had a little bet about Pregnancy Massage and how to work with the Pregnancy Massage but one of the really big red flag was always, the concern about massage in the first trimester. So what’s, can you explain this one for us?
SUZANNE: Yeah! I think it’s such a shame really because there are so many benefits of working in the first trimester and these completely outweigh any possible risks. But to be honest, what is the risk? The risk is that a woman might miscarry in the first trimester but that’s part of the natural, the natural experience. I mean there is the high risk of miscarriage in the first trimester and it’s natural and it’s the body’s natural response to a pregnancy that really isn’t really viable. That there is something developmentally wrong with the baby or the mother’s body is rejecting the baby for some reasons that can be one of genetic reasons. I mean, there are a whole lot of reasons for miscarriage, but massage isn’t one of them. You know, giving someone a massage will not cause a miscarriage. There is absolutely no evidence to that effect but of course it makes Therapists fearful that if they gave someone and massage and say supposing she did miscarry the next day, then they may feel in some kind of way that the massage caused that but for me that’s false reasoning and it’s actually really not helpful to go down that route. I still say that if you’re going to work with pregnant women in the first trimester, you do need to know what’s going on in the body and you definitely do need potentially to modify the massage but a lot of that depends on, I mean we were talking about this a bit earlier on. If the woman has had massage before or not, because obviously we can get much clearer feedback from a woman who’s already, her body is used to having massage. So to carry on having massage in the first trimester is good and we can even say it’s actually unhealthful for her to stop having massage (hmmm) in the first trimester. So yes, so it’s that risk, that is the fear of miscarriage but I think we need to, unwi…, unravel that and say, but actually massage is not going to cause miscarriage; that is not possible! I mean, women have car accidents, they sometimes suffer abuse from violent partners where they even might receive trauma injuries to the abdomen and sometimes still the baby survives and there is nothing at all! I mean a massage is geared to the individual need of the clients, so if we’re (yeah) taking a good case history and we are working with that client, there is nothing harmful in that respect that we can do.
KRZYS: Now, I completely agree with that and I always, there’s always something you can do and even if it’s okay if you’re not confident enough and if you’re not, if your knowledge is still not there and experience, you can always do hands massage. Do head, you know, scalp massage, neck, shoulders, do feet massage.
KRZYS: And tell me which pregnant wouldn’t want, wouldn’t like that!
SUZANNE: But exactly for me, that’s the benefit. So coming unto the benefits, cause some people say “oh but I think the risks, don’t take the risks!” But I say “but actually the benefits are immense because this is the time when the baby is growing and developing most in terms of forming all the organ systems but also babies are sometimes aware of on some levels how the mother is and there is much more research now of the connection between the baby and the mother. And I know women don’t always want to so consciously connect with their baby but actually if you don’t connect with your baby, then the baby is growing in this environment and not feeling the presence of the mother so much. So, form the baby’s point of view, it helpful if we support the mother to be a bit more aware of what’s going on even if she can’t in the first trimester, physically feel the movements of the baby; the baby is moving. Also touch is the first sense that’s developed and already the baby has reflex responses to touch at eight weeks. So the baby is aware of the massage, so this is one thing. It’s actually able to support the baby and the mother’s awareness of the baby, but also, the more that the mother is relaxed and in a good place and not stressed, that is going to be the benefit. And I’d say it’s a bit of a strange reflection on the values of our culture that women are not encouraged to stop working in their first trimester even if they’re in really stressful jobs and difficult working environments. They’re meant to carry on (yeah, yeah)! Well, for me that’s far more potentially harmful than having a massage. (Sure, yes) I mean how can having a massage (that’s a good example, yeah, yeah) be unhealthful? So actually to say to women, “No, have a massage!” And like you said, you can adapt it if the woman doesn’t feel comfortable with abdominal work, even though I don’t think that abdominal work is dangerous and anyway the baby is not in the abdomen, the baby, (yeah) the uterus is in the pelvis, so we’re not going to be physically touching the uterus anyway! But then some women might not be comfortable, but even just placing the woman’s hands there, getting here to breathe, getting here to relax, like you say, even a Facial Massage. There aren’t positioning issues in the first trimester. The woman can tell you what position she is comfortable in. She might be feeling nauseous, nausea I find, is also linked a lot with stress and being too busy and not having space to calm down. So just creating an hour of space where the woman can just focus on herself and how her body is making the adaptations and it can be a more physical massage if she is used to that and if she is maybe carrying on doing sports or it can be a more calming massage, if that’s what the mother wants. But I think it’s so important for women, you know, the first trimester is a third of the pregnancy. To my mind, you want to get people from the beginning engaged in their pregnancy and doing things that support them! This is the thing also that’s changed a lot. When I started, thirty years ago really, there weren’t all the fertility treatments, infertility treatments that there are now! So there wasn’t so much of an awareness of preconceptual care and preparing to be pregnant. But more and more these days, I’m working with women who’ve had difficulty conceiving or who are going through Cysteine Fertility Treatments and so working with women before they conceive and that a whole new field of massage, Fertility Massage. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of that and feel it is really important, because in fact, the quality of the egg is determined before conception and Fertility Massage actually more and more, I think it’s important for fathers to be aware and to be looking after themselves before even conception. So if we are really emphasizing that the health of both parents, preconception is going to determine the outcome of the pregnancy, then it’s completely nonsensical to then say “okay, you’ve been having massage before you’re pregnant, now you have to stop for three months!” That’s also a bit ridiculous! Of course you would carry on and keep supporting the mother. And the same for Pregnancy Massage for me, it doesn’t stop at birth; it’s supporting the mother in the recovery period after physically and emotionally and also bonding with the baby! And again, the work doesn’t stop at birth for the baby either, so it, be encouraging the mother to carry on massaging her baby using touch as a way of communication but continuing that. And so, we were talking a little bit about baby massage; for me baby massage begins in the womb. Babies are aware of touch from eight weeks old. So the more we can encourage the mother to touch her baby during the pregnancy with a more aware touch, a more focused touch cause sometimes some women are actually afraid themselves of touching the abdomen in pregnancy even though it’s actually quite I think, when women are aware that it’s safe, it’s quite intuitive and women often do naturally want to touch their abdomen and their baby but not all women! So again, that’s a benefit of Pregnancy Massage, encouraging the mother to be connecting with her baby already in pregnancy and not waiting till the baby is born to start baby massage.
KRZYS: And the next, next, really good, good thing, you know after the birth, is, is what I did! It was, I teach Dads especially after the birth because it’s really hard to connect well exactly as you said, the mother and baby connect straightaway in the belly when they are just growing and developing. They really have a good connection already and it’s really hard to develop, you know, this connection for Dads you know, after the birth, quite you know, it takes time and lots of emotion coming through! So I think, I had done my case studies and when I was still in school, I was teaching Dads (oh, that’s really good) on the Baby Massage. (Yeah, yeah!) I was teaching Dad’s (yeah) to do Baby Massage which was amazing! I started, I did that to my little boy and it was just really, really good time for me to connect, connect with him and…
SUZANNE: Yeah, exactly! It’s great to get the Dads involved but again, that can start in pregnancy so even in the first trimester, maybe it’s a bit harder for the Dads to get involved, but already in the second trimester, the Dad can feel the baby moving. (Yes!) So a lot of what I do with my clients is include the Dads as early on as they are interested. So I talked about the Birth Preparation Workshops we did but I also, that they would be a bit later on. Obviously they are more in the last trimester, but even in the Birth Preparation Workshops, I also would teach ways of connecting with the baby through touch, through sound for the Dads! So they all were already being able to make their connection (inaudible 33:26)
KRZYS: The sound (inaudible 33:27) favoured, that’s music?
SUZANNE: Sorry? Sound could be music; it could be chanting, singing, yeah! And so that the Dads I think especially in the third trimester, it’s really good to get the (inaudible 33:38)
KRZYS: So it’s not Rock n Roll?
SUZANNE: It can be if that’s what they want! (Laughter) Although it has been shown that babies don’t like kind of harsh sounds as much!
SUZANNE: Babies respond better to Mozart!
KRZYS: Yeah! Classical Music! Yes!
SUZANNE: The Mozart effect and kind of, you know more harmonic tones they prefer and they get a bit agitated if they have like heavy rock and things like that! So kind of more harmonious sounds really, but again, sounds but also touch so that the Dads will already have tools to build their relationship with the baby in pregnancy. But then also I found when the Dad’s involved at birth and supports the woman to give birth, then that really also helps the bond and I have actually one of my students, I’ll just share this little story cause I teach what you say all over the world and I was teaching a Shiatsu Practitioner course in Paris recently and one of the students was a man. So I don’t get so many men doing my classes.
KRZYS: That was one of my questions here as well!
SUZANNE: I thought that would probably be one of your questions, but he was a male Shiatsu Practitioner and his motivation to do the course was his wife was pregnant and it was my, a course I do on supporting for birth and so he was there during the course and then on the last day of the course, it was a four day course, his wife came in and she, we do a clinic on the last day so people get to practice. But she came in for the whole day cause he didn’t live that nearby and she was doing the exercises and the movements so she was there for the whole day. And then they, very soon after that, they had a premature birth but they went to quite high tech hospital in France but they were still, they still were able to use all the things I showed them. Standing, moving, chanting, Shiatsu, massage, touch all of that and had a really lovely birth and the hospital was quite surprised. They were like, “oh, we’ve never had anybody give birth like that here!” But so straight away, he was really involved cause he helped support his wife (in confidence) during birth and also then he carried on giving her, that was shat most, he use the Shiatsu Practitioner but giving her Shiatsu postnatally in hospital cause they had to stay in hospital for a little bit and then he was working with their son as well. So it shows how, now he was a Practitioner but you can teach a lot of the skills are relatively simple and you can show those to parents and that makes a big, big difference.
KRZYS: That’s a really, really good story! So another thing is, have you ever had a problem with doctors? Okay, our, you, know, health, health care and to advising against massage?
SUZANNE: I’m just taking (Inaudible 36:11)
KRZYS: Yeah! No, go for it!
SUZANNE: Well in a way it’s been the opposite and I think I’ve been lucky in that, in that again I’ve had doctors coming along to the classes that I was doing. Female doctors but also women who are married to doctors and they would come to my Birth Preparation Workshops and they had a similar response to what I was saying about the Midwives. They be like “wow, this is really amazing!” I always remember I had an Obstetrician and he came and he was really cynical about it all but afterwards he said “wow that was amazing! When I touched the points that you said, I had the effects that you said!” And so they were really enthusiastic, so then when I was doing my work more focused in Bristol and my classes I’d often get GPs referring their clients, yes, sometimes for massage or Shiatsu and saying “go and see Suzanne” or Midwives would and also when I taught the course at St. Michael’s, I was saying to the Midwives “don’t work with high risk clients, you know, I’m just teaching you some simple skills, keep your work with straightforward clients!” But then when the Obstetricians found out, they started sending all their really (Laughter) high risks clients that they really couldn’t work out what to do with, and say “oh no, they can go and have some Shiatsu or Massage Therapy, that would be really helpful for them.” So I’ve been quite lucky and I’ve had quite good responses from the doctors. The only I suppose negative, it was a bit unfortunate in a way, well not unfortunate, that’s too strong a word but for instance, at St. Michael’s we wanted to then do a really big study over like three or four years, a big randomized control trial involving thousands of women because you are probably aware of in the massage field and Shiatsu, we’re always being taught but there aren’t enough studies to justify (yeah) what we’re doing. But it’s quite hard to get funding and also access to that number of clients. So, we were going to do a really big study and I got the Research and Development Department of the hospital. We developed all the protocols, we got the clinical permissions to do it all and then we just needed the funding and The Medical Research Council, we wanted to get funding from them and they didn’t give us funding because they said “we can’t see how this, the mechanism of this working, so we’re not going to authorize funding.” I was like, “well, how are you ever going to know if it really works.” So that was my, that was sort of my disappointment that that study didn’t ever happen!
KRZYS: Will, will you ever push that?
SUZANNE: I don’t know, it’s difficult now! I have tried over the years, I mean other things have come in and taken up the space of that but I think it would be good. It did, it definitely is good if we can have studies but they do need to be on our terms and researching in ways that support massage. But on the other hand, I also feel, it’s very different working with massage and Shiatsu and again it’s the sort of thing coming back to, you know, the risks and the fears that no, what harm can it actually do? There is not a harm for my mind of massage or Shiatsu, whereas with drugs, of course there needs to be research because we all know the immense amounts of harm that drugs can cause. So to apply the same protocols and evidence doesn’t really make complete sense to me!
KRZYS: And you know, for the pharmaceuticals, now they have lots of money to do those research (yes) and pay for that (yeah) whereas the massage world, we don’t. (Yeah) So now the question, so how many men or male Massage Therapists or how many men you have in your courses?
SUZANNE: Well, not so many! (Laughter) If I’m truthful! I sometimes might have one or two men on a course but not every course. Perhaps a bit more I have in France and Spain, cause I teach in France and Spain and a bit in Italy. So my language degree did come in handy.
KRZYS: Oh yes!
SUZANNE: That was the sort of thing that I didn’t, you know when you set off with your skills, you never know quite where they’re going to take you. That’s the thing about just coming and going along you journey. I could never have envisaged thirty years ago what I would be doing now. I was just doing one step at a time really and taking and taking advantage of opportunities that come up. So when Midwives ask me to do a course, oh yeah, okay, I’ll do that! That’s not necessarily what I was thinking of doing, so do always be open to things that come up even if it doesn’t seem to quite fit into your plan, but if you’ve got, if there’s energy behind it, then go with it. So, yeah for Dads more of my work has been with the Dads and the clients and not so much with Therapists but I still think even if there are only a few male Therapists doing it, I mean there aren’t that many male Midwives, are there?
KRZYS: So tell me, because obviously as a, as a female Massage Therapist, you had a baby so you’d experience that it probably would be easier to relate to what you’re doing. So how would you say to someone, to the female Massage Therapist who hasn’t been pregnant?
SUZANNE: Yeah, my answer to that is you don’t necessarily have to be pregnant to be able to work with pregnant, because think of other things that you might work with as a Massage Therapist. I mean, it maybe what gets you going on the journey which it was for me, but you know, you don’t have to have had all the symptoms of all the things that you work with, with clients to be able to work (of course) with that client. But I would say if you do want to work with pregnancy because it’s such a profound time of a woman’s life, if you’ve not been pregnant, then it will take you probably more time to, you’d have to do a lot of work and study to understand what it means to be pregnant. So you do need to have knowledge of your subject. But I mean equally a woman who’s been pregnant, I mean I’ve had very easy pregnancies and births and I was really well during my pregnancies, but I’ve worked with women who’ve had preeclampsia, who’ve had caesareans and that’s out of my range of experience. So just because I’ve been pregnant doesn’t mean I know everything there is about pregnancy, I just have my limited experience with pregnancies. So in fact, the first clients I had when I was starting off, were quite straight forward easy clients cause I think I would have been out of my depth if I’ve had women that have had previous caesareans and preeclampsia. But over the years, through my clients, I’ve done obviously more research on those particular themes and I’ve got a lot more experience. So, yes, don’t let that put you off if you feel you want to work with pregnant women, you don’t have to have been pregnant to do it but you do need the b…, you do need the knowledge. (Laughter)
SUZANNE: You do need to build up knowledge. Yeah!
KRZYS: The next question I have for you is because a lot of you know, our listeners are just either starting up or maybe they’ve just been in the business for a while, but they are still struggling to, they work on building their business. So what would be your answer for the next question? If you woke up tomorrow morning but you still possessed all of the experience and knowledge you currently have, but your business has completely disappeared forcing you to start from the scratch, what would you do?
SUZANNE: Well that was quite a difficult question for me to come up with an answer to because in a way what I feel is that I’m having to do that every day anyway because as you’ve probably appreciated through my talk, the situation has changed beyond all recognition to the situation I was working in thirty years ago. And so I’ve constantly being in a way starting from scratch and that new things are coming up all the time. I’ve had to evolve my business, I mean when I started there were no websites, so my websites would have built up. Although I was one of the first to have a website and my partner was really interested in building a website so I was really luck with that! So it is like I’, starting from scratch all, all the time and, but in terms of giving some advice to people, about if they are really starting, but it’s always going to be like that. So you always have to have in a way that’s the beginner’s mind, isn’t it? Always be open! I like one of the Deepak Chopra things that he says, quotes. It’s about “Look at what is your passion”! What are your unique talents? Cause we’re all individuals so we each have our own journey to do. So what my journey, nobody else could really do that journey (mild laughter) because that was me. But also think more; what it is that I want do and who is it for? But I also, so having a clear vision, that’s what is important as a passion and your talents and your study. But for me also, I like the idea of Deepak Chopra about “how can I serve humanity, what are the gifts give to other people.” So although it started as a personal journey, I think it, for me it’s always been motivated by wh… In a way my personal journey was I loved being pregnant and I loved giving birth and I loved the postnatal period and I was really upset to find that for a lot of people it’s not that way and I really wanted them to have a more positive experience of pregnancy. So it’s not just about me but how can I serve humanity in a way. So in terms of practical things apart from making sure that you, you know constantly studying, constantly finding out new things, networking, you know, constantly making contacts. So I think you can see how a lot of my business has evolved just through the people that I’ve met along the way and by responding to things that they’ve asked me to do. So communication, whether that’s through Social Media or just chatting to people, so these Podcasts are really good; getting ideas so you can have conversations in a way with anybody.
KRZYS: Chatting to Midwives.
SUZANNE: Chatting, chatting to people, so making connections online, making connections online, chatting to Midwives finding out what they want. If you’ve got a passion in your field, you know a personal experience, then you know, go with that! Go with the things that inspire you but it’s also I think we’ve actually covered a lot of the things as we’ve gone along, you evolve through doing it! So I think for me, I suppose the biggest thing is you just have to start and do it but obviously be realistic about what you can do and be prepared to keep on studying and keep on learning. And I think that, that is the thing that I really like about being a Therapist is that you are constantly being challenged to keep learning and growing and developing. So if you don’t want to be in that space, I would say don’t set out to be a Therapist because you are, you can’t just come up with something and then that’s it forever. You’ll find that life is constantly changing and evolving so you have to be prepared to adopting and you know some of the most important people that you learn from are your clients. I mean it’s also through, if I didn’t have the clients coming to me, then I wouldn’t have developed the knowledge that I have and in the early days, clients asking me to attend their births; even clients who were Midwives, saying “oh what you do is really amazing, I’d really like you to be at my birth!” And so that sort of also how the birth works grew out of it. So it’s like we learn from our clients as a Teacher I learn from my students and just be open to learning all the time. I think that’s really how do I start my journey? I don’t think, it’s like a continuation, it’s that, just being open, but you have to be committed, you have to put into action. You can’t just sit in your room thinking about I’d like to do this and I’d like to do that, because you’ve just got to get out there and do it!
KRZYS: And do it! That’s a good one! And so, in this next part is all about you and here we will have a moment to get some promotion of, of Suzanne. Your courses, your book, your practice, anything you’d like to share; so we will give you a little bit of the freestyle time.
SUZANNE: Okay so, I, I don’t know if the audience is just for UK or if seeing else abroad but I teach courses, kind of where I master teach but I’ve been doing a lot of travelling (laughing) recently and also I have been using my languages. So I do teach courses in French, Spanish and Italian and, but I want to get my work out more to people without, there’s only a limit to how many places I can travel to and how much energy I’ve got travel. So I’m actually now developing some online courses. So that’s my new thing that I’m doing and I don’t see the online courses as replacing the face to face work because I don’t think, especially for a therapy like massage, you cannot learn it on line.
SUZANNE: You do need to have face to face but I think a lot of the ideas and the concepts and some of the theory, you know, things that we’ve been talking about, you can learn a lot from an online course but I would never consider that a complete training. But I am in the process of developing some online courses, some of the key aspects and the other new thing that I’m doing, the new thing, I’ve got a book that I wrote, ‘Beautiful Birth’ which you referred to which was published in 2008 which is my book for parents on how to use massage during birth; massage and Shiatsu. And the publisher, it was the end of that publisher, it was probably one of the last books they published so they didn’t put so much energy into promoting it but now I’m getting it reprinted by a new publisher, Pinter and Martin in the Autumn so that’s my new thing that I’m promoting is the reprinted and it’s slightly revised edition of the book, ‘Beautiful Birth’ which will come out in the Autumn. So I’d like to have some events in London about that. And of course I do have my ongoing courses in Bristol where I live and in London for the UK of Pregnancy Massage, but again I’m trying to think of making ways of delivering some of the theory online because it’s a lot, there is quite a lot theory. I don’t know if you’ve seen the book I wrote, ‘Pregnancy and Childbirth’, it’s quite a thick book cause there is a lot of dense theory and actually I think theory in a way is better to learn online because you can listen to a lecture, you can re-listen to it, you can play it at a moment, you can pause it, you can write notes and then I’m creating quizzes and all sorts of things. So you can just keep going back to things.
KRZYS: There is different way to learn!
SUZANNE: Whereas if you, if you’re on a course and you get a lecture, you might forget half of it. So it’s actually quite nice to have the recordings. So I think…
KRZYS: It’s quite a lot of information to adjust kind of exactly spending on the book will take you a quite long time to read it three times to actually understand it.
SUZANNE: Yeah! Exactly!
KRZYS: And by creating that kind of courses even visually (yeah, yeah) it’s just much, much better.
SUZANNE: Yeah! Yeah! And breaking it all down and then, then people can ask questions you know, I didn’t quite understand that, and they can go at their own pace, so that’s what I’m developing, courses using a lot of material that I’ve already got and created in my books. And then in the future I hope to create new courses because also I suppose for the future, I want, I find, you pick this up on my website that I do see the maternity period as fundamental and supporting a women during her pregnancy is supporting the baby. But I also see that having knowledge of that period affects everybody or the work with any client, male or female. We’ve all been in the womb; we’ve all had our experience of births so in the future I’m looking to perhaps develop courses that are more using that, not just for people who are working with pregnancy but for any client to understand the implications of birth and pregnancy.
KRZYS: Now thank you.
SUZANNE: So new ideas for new courses and maybe writing my novel. (Laughter)
KRZYS: (Inaudible 52.37) Cause you have to finish now (Yeah) No, definitely let us know when your book, book going out. We’ll help you pu…, we’ll help you to put it out!
KRZYS: So in this part which is called, Talk Guest Game, so we would like to ask you, like, who you admire and why? And can you help us to get a recommendation for upcoming interview of me?
SUZANNE: Well I admire, I thoug… I was thinking of this, someone that’s local I thought is good and this is one of my students, someone who studied with me. She’s a Massage Therapist and a Shiatsu Practitioner like me, cause not all Shiatsu Practitioners do massage and not all Massage Therapists do Shiatsu and in fact that has been one of my passions in the Pregnancy Massage courses to integrate a little bit of Shiatsu cause there’s lots of myths about some of the acupuncture points as you probably know. Anyway, Heidi Armstrong studied with me years ago at least ten years ago when I was starting when I was starting my courses for Shiatsu Practitioners and she’s done a lot of work with pregnancy and birth, but she also is a Reflexologist which I’m not, (Okay!) and she’s now developing some courses for Reflexologists for pregnancy and maternity work and fertility work and also for introducing, like I’ve kind of done with introducing Shiatsu for Massage Therapists, but she also introduces Shiatsu points for Reflexologists as well. And as she, I used to teach some pregnancy courses and also Shiatsu for Massage Therapists at Andy school that you mentioned in Bristol and because of my international work, I’d given that to Heidi. So Heidi is also doing some teaching at the BC and B, the Bristol College but she’s also developing and teaches her own courses in London and in Bath and she also runs the Bath College of, I think it’s called Complimentary Therapist.
KRZYS: Okay! Brilliant!
SUZANNE: So she’d be a good person to talk to as well.
KRZYS: You try to get her on.
KRZYS: So this is all great! Thank you so much for joining us today Suzanne! You has, you have given us great advice and inspiration. So let’s finish this show with the last piece of advice for Busy Hive listeners and then we’ll say goodbye! So if you have just one thing for listeners to take out of this episode, what would it be?
SUZANNE: One thing! One thing is quite hard to say but I think (just one thing) well it’s things, it’s passion, patience, persistence, commitment! Is that okay? I know that’s four things.
KRZYS: No, that’s perfect! That’s brilliant! Thank you! So how, how can we connect with you online?
SUZANNE: So online I have a website, I mean again, this idea of constantly evolving, it’s evolved over so many years and it’s got, it’s quite big and I’m, I’m in the process of redesigning it all to make it easier for people to get around but it’s wellmother.org. So actually if anyone goes unto my website and thinks of ways that they’d like it to be improved, please do let me know cause it has got a lot of information. Its wellmother.org, that’s probably the best way and you can email me, contact me. So my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
KRZYS: Perfect! Thank you!
SUZANNE: You can always phone me. (Laughter) Some people do prefer to phone. (Laughter) I do have a, I actually have a closed group on Facebook and I’m thinking of setting up an open group (okay, that’s always good) for maternity and also a Facebook page for my book.
KRZYS: So how someone can get to your closed group? By doing your courses?
SUZANNE: They have to stur… they have to have studied the course with me.
KRZYS: Okay, yeah! Of course!
SUZANNE: Cause it’s a group for people to share to keep developing their work.
KRZYS: So thank you for joining…
SUZANNE: So I think I need an open group as well! (Laughter)
KRZYS: So next things on the list.
KRZYS: So thank you for joining me at Busy Hive Podcast and if you listeners are interested in learning a little bit more about Suzanne’s courses, you can go to busyhive.co.uk/community/podcast and we will have all the information there in show notes.
So Suzanne, it was pleasure to have you today on the show and hopefully we will chat soon again! Bye for now.
SUZANNE: Yeah! Great! It was a pleasure for too. Thank you!