Pregnancy and birth is a time of new beginnings and the way women experience it, sets a pattern not only for their health and the rest of their lives but also that of their children.

It is really important for a woman to feel connected to her body and baby, or else she may experience a difficult pregnancy, birth and perhaps suffer from postnatal depression and have trouble bonding with her child.

If a woman is connected to her body, then the chances are she will experience the pregnancy as a great time in her life and be stronger for it. Even if she has difficulties, or uses technology, she will still feel much stronger physically and emotionally to endure the whole process.

Shiatsu and massage are extremely powerful tools to support this process.


  • Muscular discomforts, such as cramping, tightening, stiffness, tension, and knots, can all be alleviated.
  • Massage can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes one is experiencing.
  • Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts during pregnancy, such as backaches, a stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches, oedema, and sore, swollen ankles and feet.
  • Massage increases local and general blood circulation, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to the cells of both the mother and foetus. This means greater vitality and less fatigue for mother and better nourishment for her baby.
  • Massage can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes is experiencing.
  • Massage helps nervous tension, which helps the mother sleep more easily and more deeply.
  • Massage can be used during the birth to make it easier and more comfortable for the labour

How your treatment will take place

Your therapist, regarding your general health background, details of your symptoms and any other relevant details that may be important, will take a full case history. A physical screening will then be done, with your therapist looking in more detail at your posture and getting a good idea of where you may be encountering any imbalances physically. It is important to do a thorough screening and case history, so then the treatment can be fully beneficial for you. Your first consultation and treatment will take 1 1/2hrs. The massage treatments thereafter will take between 1-1 1/2hrs normally.
The massage will take place on a couch, with you in a side lying position for the majority using pillows for support and comfort. Some of the treatment will also take place on your back, if the client is comfortable like this. All fours can also be used for some of the techniques and this is a very comfortable position for the pregnant woman, particularly in the third trimester as you become heavier.

How many treatments should I have?

You can start having massage treatments in your first trimester, depending on how you feel or if you are already receiving massage/shiatsu treatments. It is then important to have regular treatments throughout the pregnancy and postnatal ranging from weekly to monthly. Your therapist will advise you accordingly.

Keeping Active through your pregnancy

Research shows that regular exercise boosts self-esteem, reduces the aches and pains associated with pregnancy and also enables a faster recovery from childbirth. Many Balance clients benefit greatly from the upper and lower back, abdominal, spine, leg and hip strengthening exercises. Exercise during pregnancy also helps reduce the risk of two harmful diseases associated with pregnancy - gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.

Here are some simple exercises and stretches that can be done throughout your pregnancy.

1) Standing upright, gently rotate the hips in a circular direction with hands on your hips, and then just swing from side to side, moving arms across your body in opposite direction.

2) Put yourself into an all fours position and rock back and forth, keeping your hands in the same place and just getting the movement in the hips. Also rotate the hips in a circular direction, go to your right and left. Do this as often as you want throughout the day. Very good for relieving lower backache and also reducing tension around the pelvis area.

3) Cat stretch: On all fours keep neck and back in same line, relax the Shoulders, breath out and tuck head in and at the same time arch the back, lifting your spine up. Return to the flat back position, working from the base of the spine to the top on an in breath. Abdominal work can also be done on all four, whilst you are on all fours just breath in and hold your abdominals for 10 seconds, then release, repeat 4-5 times.

(4) The spiral twist:

Lying on the floor, supporting your head and shoulders with two pillows, one under the head and the other along the spine. Spread your arms out by your side. Inhale and exhale for a count of five as you roll your legs up and over to your right, keeping them bent. Cradle under the knees with your right arm

(5) Abdominal and pelvic work using a Swiss ball:

Sit on it more often, it helps reduce lower backache by giving you a pelvic tilt as you sit. Do some pelvic floor exercises everyday (showed A how to do these and recommended whenever she can). You can do pelvic floor exercises anywhere. After the first trimester it is recommended that you don’t do abdominal exercises laying on your back, so to continue it is safe to do so on a Swiss ball. (Please refer to Fig 1, showing a diagram of a pregnant woman doing abdominal exercises on a swiss ball). If you already have a fitness programme then continue, as you feel comfortable if not start with doing 2-3 x 10 repetitions. Remember that abdominal exercises can also be done on all fours.

(6) Squatting:

Please note: Avoid doing squats if you suffer form Symphysis Pubis.

Standing upright drop yourself down into a squatting position and place your arms out in front, return to a standing position using your legs, 2-3 x 10 repititions per day Can also do with the Swiss ball against the wall, place the Swiss ball in the arch of the back, legs at shoulder width and drop yourself into squatting position, keeping the ball held behind your back the whole time.

Can also do with the Swiss ball against the wall, place the Swiss ball in the arch of the back, legs at shoulder width and drop yourself into squatting position, keeping the ball held being your back the whole time.

Breathing Practice

Sitting on a rolled or folded blanket, making sure your spine is straight. Lean very slightly forwards from the base of your spine. If you are just starting out place your hands just above your abdomen just above the navel, with your middle fingertips touching, so that you can feel your abdomen expand and contract. Exhale, and then gently inhale, drawing air into the lower lobes of the lungs and allowing your abdomen to expand gently, forcing your fingertips apart. Your ribcage and chest should not expand during this breath. Exhale slowly as the diaphragm moves upwards, the abdomen moves downwards and the fingertips touch again.


First six weeks after birth.

The majority of women are advised to avoid starting any exercise programme for the first six weeks following pregnancy, particualaly if you have had a c-section. So please get the all clear from your doctor before embarking on anything.
Pelvic floor exercises are safe to do can be done immediately and should be encouraged as part of your daily routine.
Also walking is great. Those who have kept up a regular routine and may have been training at a fairly high standard prior to given birth, may feel ready to start training as soon as 3 weeks after giving birth. Just taper your training and listen to your body.

  • Monitoring
  • The woman should exercise three or more times a week.
  • The exercise should feel good and enhance feelings of well-being.
  • There should be no exercise associated pain or heavy bleeding.
  • Personal well being should be self-assessed every two or three days.
  • Fluid intake should be high. (A good rule of thumb is a woman should drink enough so that she feels she has to urinate every time she feeds the baby and remember the urine should be pale to clear)
  • Adequate rest is a must.
  • Infant weight gain should be normal.

From six weeks on:

Most things are under control now. Time maybe tight, but a little more manageable, especially if she shares the exercise time with the baby (this can be done e.g.: pushing a pram and speed walking or running)

Main Goals

  • A return to pre pregnancy weight
  • A rapid improvement in abdominal tone
  • An improved body image


Do monitor the growth of the baby as long as regular exercise and breast-feeding are combined.