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Massage for Alzheimer’s Patients and Dementia Care

Massage for Alzheimer’s Patients and Dementia Care

Massage for Alzheimer's PatientsHow Does Massage for Alzheimer’s Patients Help?

Massage, therapeutic touch and calm physical presence has been noted as viable alternatives for Alzheimer’s and dementia treatments since 1990.

Past and current studies involving therapeutic touch indicate “non-pharmacological interventions showing the most consistency and promise involve sensory.”

These therapies include:

  • massage/touch therapies
  • music
  • light
  • pet therapy

Why don’t more Alzheier’s Patients Get Massage Therapy?

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s patients are an under-served segment for massage and bodywork modalities. Some family members and caretakers associate massage with the deep tissue massages they have received and fear a massage would be hard on elderly loved ones. Massage for Alzheimer’s patients and massage for the elderly is more often a soothing combination of touch, massage and ‘deep listening’.

Massage therapists concentrate on shoulders, head, neck, and face with gentle rotations and fingertip friction. If the response is positive with the massage for an Alzheimer’s patient, lower back, hips and feet are included to help with range of motion and age-related joint stiffness.

Does Massage for Alzheimer’s Patients Target Specific Symptoms?

Restlessness and disruptive vocalization are two of the most concerning behaviors associated with Alzheimer and Dementia patients. Results from a 2005 trial by Diana Lynn Woods; The Effect of Therapeutic Touch on Behavioral Symptoms of Persons with Dementia . Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine showed a decrease in both restlessness and disruptive vocalization.

Results of the trial indicated:

  1. Manual manipulation (restlessness) and vocalization showed a significant decrease for the Therapeutic Touch group as compared to controls and placebo
  2. Behavioral symptoms also showed a significant change from pre- to post-intervention for Therapeutic Touch as compared to placebo and control groups.
  3. Observations from staff (even those unaware of the study) commented on they observed decreased patient agitation and a more calm environment

Why Perform Massage For Alzheimer Patients?

For patients who are living in a state of confusion, a calming massage can relax, reassure and comfort. Caretakers and patients benefit from the relaxing, meditative results from the calming touch and grounded state provided by a massage.

Alzheimer’s / Dementia patients get a momentary respite from the racing thoughts, discomfort and bewilderment they live with day to day. As a non-pharmacologic approach, massage can be a low-cost, effective strategy for dealing with behavioral symptoms such as wandering and restlessness that can endanger a patient.

A massage helps bring Alzheimer’s patients back to the present and returns them to their bodies to deeply relax and relish human contact. For those who are separated from family and friends, this caring, gentle touch can ease the fear and loneliness often associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

All Body Kneads is honored to work with your family member, friend or patient who is living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. We use a special formulated lotion to address the thinning skin of elderly patients and we make sure the space is always warm, serene and welcoming.

And remember… All caregivers get $5.00 off a massage service plus a free add-on service.

The reality is the caregiver—whether he or she is a spouse, adult child, relative, or friend—is the single most challenged, misunderstood, and ignored participant in the care and treatment of a person with Alzheimer’s disease.” ~ Porter Shimer

Call today to schedule an appointment for a patient or for yourself. 517-898-2899

Hand and Foot Massage Services

Hand and Foot Massage Services

Hand and Foot MassageHand and Foot Massage Provide Just the Right Amount of Pampering

Although full-body massages are among the most frequently requested massage services, hand and foot massage treatments are popular as well. Often, hand massages and foot spa services provide just the right amount of pampering without requiring huge blocks of time.

“Pick-Me-Up” Hand and Foot Massage

If you’re looking for the perfect pick-me-up between your regular massage sessions, consider quick treatments that focus exclusively on your hands or feet. Perhaps you’re having a very busy period at work, or are dealing with a particularly stressful time at home.

“Just Hands” or “Just Feet” Massages are very effective for stress relief when you need to relax and refocus, but don’t have the time to schedule a full session. They’re also great after a particularly strenuous exercise or athletic event, like a marathon.

Each hand or foot massage lasts 20 minutes each. During a “Just Hands” Massage, your massage therapist will work with your fingers, wrists and forearms.

For a “Just Feet” Massage, the focus is on toes, ankles and calves. If you want to do both hands and feet, these sessions last 40 minutes total.

Hand and Foot Massage for Arthritis Relief

Chronic conditions, such as arthritis, that affect the joints are often felt first in the hands and feet. They cause localized swelling, lack of flexibility, and often, pain in sufferers. At the very least, they are inconvenient, preventing full enjoyment of daily activities. At worst, they are debilitating conditions that affect quality of life.

Massage therapy has been proven to be effective in dealing with the symptoms of arthritis. Massage reduces swelling caused by fluid retention in the joints of the fingers, toes, wrists and ankles. It improves blood circulation and promotes greater flexibility. A knowledgeable and skilled massage therapist will know the right techniques to use to help arthritis sufferers.

Paraffin Treatments

Spa services for pampering your hands and feet are also available. These involve paraffin treatments using essential oils, which soften and moisturize the skin. Dead cells, which make the skin dull, are removed. The skin’s elasticity improves, leading to softer and younger looking hands and feet. The heat generated during paraffin treatment is also beneficial for treating arthritis and pain localized in the hands or feet. Paraffin treatments are available as Add-on Services.

The Full Treatment

To complete the relaxation experience you can combined this with spa services like the Rejuvenating Face Mask, or Body Polish. They are also popular with any of the massages packages. As you can see, massage therapy isn’t just about Swedish massages for easing muscle pain and tension throughout the entire body. You can also pamper yourself with a quick and relaxing session focusing on your hands, feet or both. A hand and foot massage is also a great way to introduce someone to massage, particularly if they don’t want to commit to a full-body treatment just yet.

Call me today at (517) 898-2899 to schedule your appointment or purchase a gift certificate.

Most Requested Massage Therapy Services

Most Requested Massage Therapy Services

massage therapy servicesWhat are the more popular massage therapy services?

If you’ve looked through all the massage therapy and spa services that I offer, you’ll see that there’s quite a variety to choose from. If you’re a first-time client, you may find it overwhelming to choose which service to try. So, I’ve put together this list of my clients’ favorite massage therapy services.

60- or 90-minute Massage

My clients come to me for a great massage experience. The regular full-body massage that I provide meets their needs at an affordable cost, and without a very big investment of their time. The 60-minute massage includes the full body, treating the head, face, neck, back, arms, hands, thighs, legs and feet. The 90-minute session adds the glutes and stomach (plus the chest, for men).

Pre-natal Massage with Add-ons

In addition to regular massage, I’m also certified as a pre-natal massage therapist. Expectant clients often ask for my 60-minute Pre-natal Massage, with their choice of three add-ons. The add-ons may include target hot-stones, heat therapy, paraffin treatments and more. Pre-natal massages help relieve the tiredness and stress that come with those long nine months of carrying a baby. As the due date nears, moms find that a massage is just the right way to give them a little of their energy.

60- or 90-Minute Massage with Add-ons

Our signature package is the 60- or 90-minute massage, with Aromatherapy, Target Hot-Stone, Paraffin and Vibration Therapies as add-ons. This is one of our most popular packages. One client even called it “heaven on earth.” You can’t get better than that, can you? Adding one or more add-ons to the regular massage enhances the experience.

Add-ons for massage therapy services

  • Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to help with relaxation or rejuvenation. Different oils achieve different results. You can choose the scent you want to use, or let me help you, depending on your needs.
  • Target Hot-Stone Therapy involves the use of smooth, heated stones placed on specific areas of the body. The total effect is deeply-relaxing and therapeutic.
  • Vibration Therapy, as the name implies, employs vibration to relieve stress and increase general well being.
  • Paraffin treatments are a great way to soften the hands, feet or both. It’s a wonderful pampering treatment to add to your massage session.

So, there you are! These three packages are my most requested massage therapy services. So, if you’re looking to try something out, they’re a great place to start. Of course, you can put together your own package that’s suitable for your needs. Also check out my monthly massage specials.

Massages for Headache Relief

Massages for Headache Relief

headacheHow often do you get a headache?

Whether it’s from stress, migraines or just everyday tiredness, many of us who experience a headache will often do the same thing to relieve it. Our hands go to our temples or the bridge of the nose in an effort to ease a headache. You probably do this as well, but did you know that this is a form of massage?

More than just for relaxation, massage is an effective treatment for aches and pains. And even if you can’t get to a massage therapist, you can still use simple techniques to reap the benefits of massage.

Among the basic things to know when treating headaches using massage are the pressure points located in the following parts of your body:

  • In the middle of the forehead, between your eyebrows
  • The corners of the eyes, just behind the bone of the eye socket
  • Under the base of the skull, about an inch away from the spine on both sides (tilt your head back as you press upward during your massage)
  • On the hand, between the thumb and index finger
  • On the top of each foot, between the big toe and the second toe

Once you have found these pressure points, use the following techniques to massage away your headache and migraine. For pressure points on the forehead, the eye corners and the base of the skull:

  1. Use only the pads of your first two fingers.
  2. Breathe deeply during the massage.
  3. Press the area lightly at first, just enough to feel resistance or tension under your fingers. Adjust the pressure if you feel too much pain.
  4. Use tiny circular movements.
  5. Count to 10 as you gradually increase the pressure.
  6. Release the pressure slowly, while maintaining deep breathing.
  7. Repeat the massage as necessary.

For pressure points on the hand and foot:

  1. Use the pads on your thumb and index finger to gently squeeze the pressure points on the opposite hand or the foot.
  2. Breathe deeply and use circular movements.
  3. Apply light pressure at first, gradually increasing as you count to ten.
  4. Release the pressure slowly, while maintaining deep breathing.
  5. Repeat the massage, applying more pressure as necessary.

As with full-body massages, self-massage targeted to treat specific aches are effective because they relax the muscles and increase circulation to the area. Use these techniques properly on the associated pressure points to get relief from headaches and migraines. You can also use them to enhance your concentration and increase energy, as well as facilitate a good night’s sleep. Remember, however, that severe headaches may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Always discuss with your doctor when you have any concerns. Otherwise, continue to enjoy the benefits of massage, whether it’s done by a professional massage therapist or something you do to get headache relief.

Arthritis and Massage Therapy

Arthritis and Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy Can Help with Arthritis Painarthritis and massage therapy

Arthritis is a painful condition that often affects the hands, knees and other joints. Sufferers experience symptoms that range from just annoying to severely debilitating.

The good news is that there are things you can do to ease the discomfort caused by arthritis and even help prevent its onset. One of these is massage therapy.

Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation caused by a type of stress hormone. While it most often occurs in the knuckles, wrists, knees, and spine, it can manifest anywhere in the body.

In some of these areas, localized swelling is the result of excess fluid, which in turn impedes circulation. There is often discomfort and limited motion in the affected area. The disease may be associated with:

  • frozen shoulder syndrome
  • carpal tunnel
  • hip tension
  • sciatica
  • pain between the vertebrae.

Along with its growing popularity in pain management, massage therapy is also gaining recognition as an effective medication-free treatment for arthritis. Massage accomplishes this in two ways: by loosening up the joints, and by improving circulation.

Thai Massage and Arthritis

Thai massage is a type of full bodywork that improves joint flexibility and mobility. During the session, the massage therapist stretches and applies light pressure on the limbs and joints (legs, arms, hips, etc.). It is a great modality to use for easing arthritis that affect large areas (shoulders, hips, etc.).

Hand and Feet Massage TherapyFoot Massage Therapy for arthritis

If you’re suffering from arthritis on your hands and feet, you don’t need to get a full body massage in order to see benefits.

A shorter session focusing on just the outer extremities will still give you relief from pain and inflammation. Arthritis in the hands and feet is accompanied by fluid backup, which causes pain in the affected joints. The massage therapist thus uses light pressure, and a combination of circular and long movements, to relieve this backup and improve circulation.

Frequency of Massage Therapy for Arthritis Relief

You will experience relief from arthritis pain even after just one session of massage therapy. But, in order to maximize the benefits, it’s best to get a massage on a regular basis. A recommended frequency is once a week for a month, followed by a session once every 4-6 weeks. Over time, you will experience less pain, less stiffness, better hand grip, and increased range of motion. As with any medical condition, consult with your doctor about seeing a massage therapist for your arthritis. You will also want to inform your therapist about your condition, so that she can customize your session according to your needs. The best way to help prevent and/or reduce arthritis is through physical activity. However, not all of us are able to frequently engage in activities that ensure that our joints are healthy. For the more sedentary among us, or as a complement to physical activity for those who maintain active lifestyles, regular massage therapy is a great way to reduce and prevent arthritis pain and inflammation.

Contact me to schedule your massage session today.

Massage Plus Aromatherapy for Stress Relief

Massage Plus Aromatherapy for Stress Relief

aromatherapy for stress reliefHow do you use aromatherapy for stress relief?

We often talk about how massage therapy can help ease stress (and who doesn’t need that?

Did you know you can take the benefits of regular massages one step further by using aromatherapy for stress relief?

Massage by itself already has amazing benefits, both for your body and mind. No matter what type of massage you get, you come away more relaxed. Muscles are less achy. Your mind is calmer. Your massage therapist always creates a soothing environment that will help you benefit the most from the healing power of touch. This environment includes soft lights and calming music. Aromatherapy adds an extra dimension by involving the sense of smell.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is an age-old practice that uses essential oils derived from plants. These days, you can find many aromatherapy products in the form of candles, bath soaps, oils, even little pillows filled with sweet-smelling herbs. When combined with massage, aromatherapy uses the properties of essential oils to achieve specific results. Massage with aromatherapy goes beyond reducing physical aches. When inhaled, the scents induce both physical and mental responses. Depending on the oil that is used, the overall effect could be ultimate relaxation, rejuvenation or re-invigoration. Relaxing scents reduce the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in our bodies. Invigorating scents increase our energy and wakefulness.

Types of Oils for Aromatherapy for Stress Relief

Any essential oil used for massage therapy should be natural and organic. These oils are extracted from plants, not made in a laboratory. They are processed in a way that their natural scents and properties are retained. Going to a certified massage therapist will help assure that the oils used are of high-quality and meant specifically for massage therapy.

Relaxing oils include lavender and chamomile.

Lavender has been shown to calm down fussy babies and promote sleep. Essential oils derived from citrus, such as lemon and orange, are invigorating oils. Others, like eucalyptus, helps clear the mind while spearmint lifts your spirit and improves concentration.

Rosemary, on the other hand, promotes contentment and positive emotions. Your massage therapist will help you choose an aromatherapy oil to use during your massage, depending on your overall condition and goals for the session.

Listen carefully to her instructions as she tells you what to expect from each essential oil she has available.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Aromatherapy for Stress Relief

Once you have chosen the essential oil for your session, relax and let your massage therapist do her job. She will use the oil throughout your massage. In addition to the added benefits of scent, the oil also helps your therapist’s hands glide smoothly across your skin. The reduced friction lets her work your muscles effectively without any discomfort to you. The oil also moisturizes your skin during your session. Breathe deeply and let the scent work its magic. Think happy, relaxing thoughts and just savor the experience as it envelopes you.

After your session, linger for a few minutes on the massage table. Don’t hurry off to get back into your busy day.

Finally, ask your therapist for a bottle of the essential oil that you picked. Some oils can be used for self-massage, or to add to warm water for a relaxing bath. You can enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy for stress relief, even in the comforts of your own home.

What is your favorite relaxing smell?

Massage Therapy and Healthy Sleep

Massage Therapy and Healthy Sleep

massage therapy and healthy sleepWhat do massage therapy and healthy sleep have in common?

Massage therapy helps promote a healthy lifestyle, through relaxation and stress relief. It is often viewed as a luxury activity. However, it can be a powerful tool in addressing a common problem that people have these days: lack of sleep. Although we all know that we need 8 hours of sleep every night, many people still try to get by with 6-7 hours, and often even less. At the same time, we’ve seen an increase in health problems like obesity, heart issues due to stress, and chronic fatigue. We trudge through our days, and drink quantities of caffeine in an effort to just function at minimum levels.

Benefits of Sleep

Adequate, restful sleep is essential not just for physical health, but also for mental and emotional well-being. When we spend sufficient time in the different stages of non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and REM sleep, we reap the following benefits:

1. Physical energy Anyone who’s had only 4-5 hours of sleep during the night can attest to the fact to its negative effect on the entire day. It’s as if our body is reminding us that it needs more sleep that we’d given it. We are sluggish, and feel as though a nap is in good order even in the middle of the day. People who literally bounce out of bed in the morning, ready to take on anything that comes their way, are more likely to be those who have slept 8 hours or more.

2. Mental alertness Lack of sleep results in reduced alertness and short-term memory loss. These, in turn, affect our capacity to perform and stay with complicated mental tasks. This is why students are often reminded to get a good night’s sleep before an important exam. No matter what the industry, sleep deprivation negatively affects job performance.

3. Appetite control Research has shown that a chemical associated with hunger signals are released in large quantities during sleep deprivation. At the same time, lack of sleep suppresses another chemical that signals when we’ve had enough to eat. This double chemical whammy, plus the fatigue brought on by sleep deprivation, wreaks havoc on people who want to lose weight. No matter what diet they are on, people who are sleep deprived night after night find themselves struggling to control their appetite. Any weight-loss strategy must be coupled with adequate sleep in order to succeed.

4. Healthy immune system Simply put, the body needs adequate rest in order to fight infections. Even though, we may compensate for the decreased alertness by imbibing caffeine, there is no substitute for the regeneration that our cells undergo during sleep. Healthy cells mean higher chances of beating germs that bring sickness.

5. Ability to combat stress High-quality sleep contributes to the body’s ability to fight stress. When we are sleep-deprived, our stress responses tend to go to extremes and/or last longer than necessary. This is why chronically-sleep deprived individuals are more short-tempered and irritable than those who make their 8-hour sleep a priority. In addition to these benefits, healthy and adequate sleep has also been shown to decrease the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments.

Massage Therapy and Healthy Sleep

The best way to achieve healthy sleep habits is by natural medication-free means. Studies have shown that regular massage therapy reduces fatigue, promotes relaxation and contributes to high-quality sleep. The benefits of massage are both immediate and long-term.

People who receive massages experience a more restorative type of sleep, both immediately following the massage and even several hours afterward. Their bodies are more relaxed, with reduced aches and pains, and able to fall more quickly into deep sleep.

Parents who have given their babies gentle massages can attest to similar results. Infants who have been massaged are more relaxed, and undergo fewer disturbances of their sleep.

In addition to regular massage, we can encourage healthy sleep by:

  • establishing a set bedtime
  • avoiding caffeine a few hours before bedtime
  • ensuring that the sleeping area (bedroom) is quiet, dark and comfortable
  • turning off electronics such as TVs, video games and smartphones at least an hour before bedtime

Sleep is one of the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. Regular massage therapy is one of the things you could do to help you achieve better sleep and stress-free days and nights. Do you want to sleep better tonight? Call me!

How Often Should You Get a Massage?

How Often Should You Get a Massage?

MassageOne of the most common questions about massage therapy is how often one should get a massage. The right answer differs from client to client.

How often you get a massage depends on many factors. These include:

  • your general health
  • the reason for getting a massage
  • how you felt after your last session
  • your time
  • your budget

Today I’ll focus on the purpose of your massage as a factor in deciding how often to schedule your appointments.

Why Are You Getting a Massage?

Before you and your massage therapist decide on a schedule, you need to talk about why you’re coming in for treatment and the specific modalities that will be used.

General Relaxation

Some people get massages for health maintenance and general relaxation. The purpose of these sessions is to support proper body functions, including blood circulation and joint flexibility. Regular sessions like these prevent pain, stress points, and muscle tension from building up. Massage therapy for relaxation may be scheduled every three or four months.

Stress Relief

In spite of regular massages for relaxation, there may be times when you will experience periods of higher stress and greater muscle tension. If you are in a high-stress job or work in an environment that requires you to be in one position for a prolonged period of time, you may develop tightly-knotted muscles in your back, arms and shoulders. These may result in reduced movement and significant pain. In addition, constant stress increases your risk of heart disease. To help you cope with high-stress situations, get a massage once or twice a month.

Sports Performance and Recovery

Athletes and other individuals who engage in intense physical activity require specialized massage therapy to enhance performance, prevent injury, and speed up their muscles” recovery. Competitive sports, for example, puts a lot of stress on the body. Massage therapy helps to strengthen muscles before the activity, and to heal afterward. The frequency of sessions may range from one to three times a week to three times a month.

Treatment of Chronic Issues

If massage therapy is performed as part of treatment for specific issues, the frequency varies according to the type of illness or injury, as well as overall health. Relief from chronic pain may only be achieved after a program of therapy that includes up to three sessions a week, and additional sessions at diminishing frequency over a few months. Chronic issues that may benefit from massage therapy include back pain, joint pain and localized inflammation.

Pregnancy Massage

Expectant moms experience a range of aches and pains as their pregnancies progress. These include back pain and swelling of the ankles. Regular massage sessions, performed by a certified pregnancy massage therapist, may help ease these discomforts particularly toward the end of the pregnancy. A once- or twice-a-month massage will go a long way towards helping you feel great. As always though, check with your doctor to make sure a massage is appropriate for you during pregnancy. ** There are many other reasons people come in for massage therapy.

Additional Considerations

Likewise, there are additional considerations to take when you think about how often to get a massage.

These include the following:

  • Your General Health. If you are a fairly healthy person, with no injuries or chronic conditions, you can pretty much get a massage as often as you want. If you”re suffering from an injury or chronic illness that could benefit from massage, you might come in for regular treatment with a focus on your specific condition.
  • How You Felt After Your Last Session.  Every time you get a massage, you should evaluate whether you are getting the maximum benefits that you want. If your chronic pain is getting better through massage, you and your therapist might change your schedule accordingly.
  • Your Resources. Your time and finances are important factors to consider when scheduling your appointments. Make the most out of your resources by going to an excellent therapist and by using coupons and special offers.

If you want to know more about how often to get massage therapy that would work for your situation and resources, contact me today.

The Science and Art of Massage Therapy

The Science and Art of Massage Therapy

Have you ever though about the art of massage therapy?the art of massage

Did you know that massage therapy is both a science and an art? Far from being just a luxurious way to spend one’s time, there are sound scientific principles behind the practice and benefits of massage.

First of all, the process of becoming a certified massage therapist requires study and training. At the same time, a successful client-therapist relationship is nurtured through an approach that is closer to art than science.

The Science of Massage Therapy

Not everyone can become a professional massage therapist. Many states require licensing before one can practice massage therapy as a business. Massage therapists need to complete hundreds of hours of classroom instruction using an approved curriculum.

In addition to massage theory and application, massage therapy classes cover human anatomy, physiology, kinesiology (study of human movement), and pathology.

Massage therapists are expected to know how muscles, nerves, tendons, bones and joints work together in the human body. They study the effects of injury, stress and pain on physical and emotional well-being, as well as overall health.

They are familiar with medical terminology and use this knowledge to help patients with chronic or temporary medical conditions. Massage therapists also receive instruction in injury prevention and practices to aid in physical rehabilitation and the relief of specific conditions. Some may even take specialized classes in skin health and nutrition. In addition to formal classroom instruction, massage therapists are licensed only after they accumulate hours of practical experience in a supervised environment. Many accredited schools have their own clinics where students get hands-on training, under the watchful eye of qualified instructors.

The Art of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy doesn’t simply involve manipulation of muscles to achieve relaxation and pain relief. It also requires that the therapist essentially listen with their hands and offer an environment that provides compassionate care to their client.

The massage therapist thus blends science and art toward the goal of providing a total experience. Several elements go into a successful massage. Among these are:

  • the layout and appearance of the therapy room
  • sensory details such as the touch of the sheets
  • the scents of aromatherapy oils
  • the sound of soothing music in the background.

During a massage session, the therapist uses her hands to find areas that need specific attention and adapts her techniques to meet those needs. As with art, the experience is different for each client and even for each session. Each massage therapist blends science and art by using her knowledge, skills and ability to relate with her client to provide the best benefits every time. The result is an overall encounter that soothes both the body and mind.

The Benefits of Hiring a Birth Doula

The Benefits of Hiring a Birth Doula

birth doulaWhat is a birth doula?

The word “doula” comes from the Greek word for “woman who serves.”

Throughout history, women have been giving birth with the support of female family members and friends. Drawings and illustrations of this milestone event often show a doula or midwife assisting with the birth, and one or more women giving comfort and attending to the needs of the mother.

Childbirth in modern times has become a more clinical affair, with the result of increased safety for both the mother and child during this once-dangerous experience. Babies are delivered in hospitals, with doctors and nurses attending to the birth.

One person, often the father of the baby, is usually present to provide the mother with encouragement and other non-medical support. In recent years, however, there has been a trend toward returning in part to traditional ways. Awareness of the need for strong emotional support, in addition to medical expertise, has surged among expectant parents. While the baby’s father is an important part of the event, he is often faced with the daunting task of dealing with his own apprehensions, in addition to providing support to the mother. This is when the presence of a birth doula is highly beneficial. The word “doula” comes from the Greek word for “woman who serves.” Birth doulas are trained to be supportive partners of the parents during the childbirth experience. Their goal is to “comfort and support the mother and to enhance communication between the mother and medical professionals” (DONA International).

A birth doula serves to enhance the positive experience of childbirth by providing the following:

Physical Comfort

Studies have found that the presence of doulas during a birth often leads to shorter labors with fewer complications. Doulas provide physical comfort measures such as lower back massages, and encourage breathing techniques that ease pain and discomfort throughout the process. In the end, the laboring mother is less stressed and fearful of the experience.

Emotional Support

During the intense experience of childbirth, a woman’s emotional needs may fluctuate drastically. A trained doula understands that this is a normal part of labor, and will offer support as needed. She is there to encourage and reassure, all while respecting and following the mother’s wishes. The mother thus becomes more focused and confident of herself as she delivers her child.

Stress Relief for the Partner

Most traditional birth experiences rely on the male partner to perform a variety of tasks during an intense situation. The result is that he becomes stressed and sometimes unable to appreciate the happy event until after it is over. The presence of a doula lifts many responsibilities off his shoulders, and allows him to become involved according to his comfort level.

Enhanced Communication between Expectant Parents and Medical Staff

The birth doula may serve as a go-between for the expectant parents and the medical staff. She doesn’t make decisions regarding the medical care of the mother or child. Instead, she ensures that information is relayed both ways, and may also provide objective feedback when requested.

A Positive Birth Experience

A mother in labor is more relaxed when she knows that she has someone who is knowledgeable and whose goal is to support and care for her as she brings her child into the world. A doula’s work is to ensure a positive birth experience as much as possible. These benefits are just some of the advantages of using the services of a birth doula. Many studies have shown that the outcomes of childbirth often improve when a doula is present. These include less physical discomfort, a more relaxed and happier mother, better parent-child bonding, and enhanced breastfeeding, which in itself leads to healthier newborns and mothers.

Here at All Body Kneads, I will begin providing birth doula services for mothers-to-be in the greater Lansing area. These services are in addition to the excellent spa and massage services that are already available to you. Contact me today for more information.

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Contact Us       517.898.2899       3333 South Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 102, Lansing, MI 48910