By Jennifer Shaw, Austin Massage Therapist and Guest Blogger
Even the seasoned massage therapist probably remembers the first time they worked on a pregnant massage client. When we reached the pregnancy portion of our massage training, I remember being terrified by prenatal massage. Even in my practice now – four years after my certification, when a new client comes in and shows up pregnant, I take a deep breath. But I haven’t taken a prenatal massage class yet.
So what’s my hang up – and maybe yours?
1. MYTH: Everything I need to know, I learned in massage school.
In Texas, your massage certification training only covers the basics of pregnancy or prenatal massage. | I hear this one a lot for a lot of different continuing education courses. While we certainly had a “special populations” class and have probably rubbed a pregnant belly at least once in our massage training, there is a lot more to know about the pregnant body and how it best receives massage therapy. Please note, our lack of prenatal massage training is not a short-coming of our massage school or its curriculum – in Texas, massage schools only have 500 hours to teach everything its students need to know to pass exams. Instead, consider this an opportunity for massage continuing education and go get more training.
2. MYTH: All the anatomy is the same.
Well sort of, but I think if we can’t recite exactly where the small intestines go when a pregnant woman hoists herself on your massage table in her third trimester, we have a problem. | While none of the human anatomy goes away, it certainly changes. Any woman who has been pregnant can tell you that. A pregnant woman at some point might tell you she gets full off a Cheeto and can’t breathe at all in certain positions. Hello, loose joints and low back pain! And even if you’ve experienced these changes firsthand as a one-time pregnant woman yourself, if you don’t know exactly how it all smushes around when a baby grows in you and how those changes affect bodywork, you need a class. (P.S. Now I know where the small intestines go. I looked it up.)
3. MYTH: I don’t have that many pregnant clients, so it really doesn’t affect my business.
And the little voice inside my head says, “I wonder why.” | Working on women is a wonderful marketing strategy. Working on pregnant women is a very wonderful marketing strategy. Women talk, but pregnant women are at a time in their lives when their friends, family members and every stranger on the street wants to talk about pregnancy – about how far along she is, what her birthing plan is, about their birthing stories and helpful things they learned when they were pregnant, what OBGYN they saw, what toys they liked, how they decorated baby’s room and…you get the idea. A bunch of gabbers, yes, but these women and their gabbing circles are also a bunch of word-of-mouth marketers. Imagine if you touched that one gabby, pregnant woman with an educated hand. What would she have to say then to her friends, her family, the stranger on the street? If we work on women, we always have an opportunity to gain clientele through word-of-mouth, but we can amplify our efforts when we perform excellent bodywork on a pregnant client.
Insert big, dramatic sigh here – this isn’t the first time I’ve sold myself on more massage education. You may see me in Lauterstein-Conway Massage School’s Bodywork for the Childbearing Year, this Fall. Regardless, consider the myths and the truths. Yes, you can put off pregnancy massage continuing education course again this Fall – just like you did last year – or you could try something different.
You could learn a little more, be a little better, and get those gabbers going.