Nurturing Massage for Pregnancy: A Practical Guide to Bodywork for the Perinatal Cycle
by Leslie Stager

[2009, Baltimore, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 288 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 92, Winter 2009/2010, © 2009, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Teri Myers.]

With this comprehensive textbook, Leslie Stager has produced an essential resource for massage therapists and birth practitioners alike. While much of the book is geared toward the massage therapist, anyone in a hands-on field who works with pregnant or birthing women will find much that will be of use.

The first of three sections covers massage during pregnancy, including a detailed look at the physiological and emotional changes that a woman experiences during this time, general pregnancy massage techniques as well as bodywork to relieve common pregnancy complaints, and bodywork that can be done in preparation for birth.

The second section covers massage and touch techniques for use during labor and birth (see our excerpt from this section beginning on page 12). While some of the topics in this section will be old news to the midwife or doula (primarily the “Overview of Labor,” which contains valuable information for the massage therapist who plans to attend births), there is also a wealth of information on supportive touch and massage techniques for use during labor and birth—a treasure trove for midwives, doulas and labor and delivery nurses. This section also contains a chapter detailing bodywork techniques for common complaints during labor.

The final section covers bodywork for the postpartum phase, and includes a chapter on the physical and emotional changes of “reincorporation” and the specific benefits and concerns of bodywork during this time, as well as a chapter on providing bodywork for clients who have undergone birth-related surgery.

Sprinkled throughout all three sections of this well-laid-out and easily accessible book are boxes with special tips for the practitioner, including self-care tips to share with your pregnant or postpartum client, ideas for how the client’s partner can help during the different stages of pregnancy and birth, complementary modalities (such as breath work or aromatherapy) for use with particular conditions, and highlights of traditional birth practices.

Indispensable for the massage therapist who wishes to work with pregnant or birthing women, this book is also a valuable addition to the reference library of any midwife, doula or other birth professional.

Reviewer Teri Myers is a budding farmer, holistic health counselor and licensed massage therapist, as well as the acting managing editor for Midwifery Today magazine.

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