The Role of a Doula - by admin@mcb on March 30 2016

The Role of a Doula

The Role of a Doula

I had someone ask me today about the role of a doula, and how a doula helps women have shorter, easier labors. The answer can be found in the three part definition of a doula. A doula is someone who provides physical comfort, emotional support, and information to a woman during her labor and childbirth.

The physical comfort role of a doula comes through a variety of techniques. These include massage therapy, positions and techniques to help back labor, and different laboring positions that can help bring contraction relief.

The emotional support provided by a doula is conveyed through a loving touch, a caring look, verbal encouragement, and being non-judgmental listener.

The information role of a doula will come from her doula training, from experience gained at prior births, and through resources such as Penny Simkin’s book The Birth Partner.

Long Term Satisfaction With Labor

Penny Simkin did a study a number of years back that assessed what was most important for a woman to have a long-term satisfaction with her birth experience. She had questionnaires from women she had taught in childbirth education classes back in the 1970’s. Approximately 20 years later, Penny contacted these women to interview them about birth experience. She was looking to see what long-term impacts the birthing process had for them.

While you might think what leads to long term satisfaction is a short labor, or a relatively easy labor, but that was not the case. In fact, there was no correlation between length or pain of labor with long term satisfaction. She found that the most important things were a sense of being supported and cared for, positive memories (including shared laughter) with the caregivers, and a sense of having been in control.

The factors that lead to satisfaction long term dovetail with the three aspects of doula work described above. The sense of accomplishment comes from a doula providing emotional support. The sense of control comes from the doula providing the mother with information about her options and alternatives, and helping her to adhere to her birth plan if circumstances allow. The sense of having been cared for comes from the physical support and hands-on aspect of a doula’s role.

Becoming a Doula

If you would like to help women have a satisfying labor and birth experience, get started with massage doula training today. The Institute of Somatic Therapy offers training in prenatal massage and doula support. Click here to see the courses available in this massage specialty.

NOTE: Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net “Newborn” by arztsamui.

Essential Oils – Watch Your Words - by admin@mcb on March 23 2016

Essential Oils – Watch Your Words

Massage therapists need to exercise caution if making claims about essential oils.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun to crack down on claims made by distributors of essential oils. Companies such as Young Living and DoTERRA have been warned against any reference to health benefits through the use of these oils, including social media posts by their multi-level marketing distributors that may be seen as holding essential oils out to be “unapproved drugs”.

Never mind that not a day goes by that dangerous drugs with a long list of cautions and contraindications can be heard on any given television station’s advertising. Given that no death has ever been attributed to essential oils (source: Association of American Poison Control Centers), and approximately 106,000 deaths per year are attributed to FDA-approved prescription drugs, a number not including over-the-counter medications (source: Death by Medicine Null, G PhD.), one has to wonder what the true agenda is.

Are These Claims False or Misleading?

Is it untrue to claim that essential oils have curative properties for various conditions? The National Institute of Health, a US government agency, has a public database,, which lists many thousands of peer-reviewed articles documenting research on the health properties of hundreds of different oils. When you put “essential oils” into their search bar, as of today there are 15,161 results. These results include titles such as “Rational Basis for the Use of Bergamot Essential Oil in Complementary Medicine to Treat Chronic Pain” and “Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health.”

If you are a distributor of aromatherapy oils, you might be putting your future access to these  oils at risk by making any public claims about their effectiveness. We recommend that any massage therapist using aromatherpy in their practice search the above database for some of your favorite oils, and print off the studies. Then instead of you making any claims, you are simply pointing to scientific, peer-reviewed evidence.

At Institute of Somatic Therapy, we use aromatherapy in our office nearly every day. If you have not yet started using essential oils in your massage therapy practice, you are missing out on a potentially valuable resource for your clients, and for yourself.

Aromatherapy Massage CE Training Online

We invite you to take our course Aromatherapy for Massage. It is a 20 CE course, valid for NCBTMB, AMTA, ABMP and most states.


Reflexology for PMS - by admin@mcb on March 08 2016

Reflexology for PMS

Reflexology for PMS

Massage and reflexology for PMS have proven to be effective treatments. Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods) and PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) are common complaints among women of childbearing age. For women who prefer natural methods of pain relief, massage and reflexology can be an excellent choice.

Research on Reflexology for PMS

Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 82, Number 6, December 1993 published a medical research study on reflexology for PMS. Two groups of women received weekly half-hour treatments for eight weeks. The control group received reflexology for points corresponding to the head and upper body. The study group received reflexology for points corresponding to the reproductive system and hormonal glands. Prior to the study, both groups were statistically similar in their symptoms. After the study period, the women receiving PMS targeted reflexology experienced a 46% reduction in symptoms. This was more than double the control group, which only had a 17% reduction in symptoms.

The above study also referenced a study published by the New Zealand Medical Journal in 1989. That study concluded that massage therapy was the “single most effective self-help treatment reported by women for relief of premenstrual symptoms.” Massage had a higher success rating for relieving PSM symptoms than did physician prescribed medications.

Learn to Perform Reflexology

Reflexology is a non-invasive technique with almost no contraindications. As such, it is a wonderful modality for many conditions, including dysmenorrheal and PMS. Have you considered making reflexology a part of your massage therapy practice? If so, enroll in Institute of Somatic Therapy’s continuing education course titled Reflexology for Feet and Hands. This online course is worth 18 continuing education credits (18 CEs). Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education Approved Provider, #280672-00. Institute of Somatic Therapy CE courses are also valid for Florida, Georgia, AMTA, ABMP, and most states.

Photo courtesy of satit_srihin with

Fibromyalgia – What Causes It? - by admin@mcb on March 02 2016

Fibromyalgia – What Causes It?

Fibromyalgia – What Causes It?

What causes fibromyalgia? In two words: nobody agrees. While theories abound, there is no concrete medical evidence at this point in time that clearly proves the cause of fibromyalgia. Possible theories include a weakened immune system, genetics, allergies, severe stress and thyroid gland dysfunction. Many people trace the onset of their fibromyalgia symptoms from whiplash or physical trauma to the upper body, especially injuries affecting the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle. More likely than not, fibromyalgia is the result of a number of interdependent causes that, when existing together, make some people more susceptible to developing fibromyalgia.

In a study of 6,240 fibromyalgia patients, 59% felt they were able to identify a specific trigger of their condition. Of those, 39% felt their disease was triggered by a physical injury, 27% by a major emotional shock, 15% by a severe infection, 9% from surgery, 5% from exposure to chemicals or drugs. A similar survey showed 20% onset after surgery or trauma, and 5 to 10% as a reaction to a viral illness.

A study compared fibromyalgia in 100 patients with whiplash to 60 patients with trauma in their lower body, such as fractured legs. The study revealed that the group with whiplash had 13 times greater incidence of developing fibromyalgia than those with lower body trauma. Of the whiplash patients who developed fibromyalgia, the average time of onset was just 3.2 months from the date of the accident.

Using Massage Therapy to Treat Fibromyalgia

Regardless of the cause, massage therapy has been proven through various scientific studies to help alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. There are many techniques a massage therapist can incorporate into their massage session to help a fibromyalgia client.

The Institute of Somatic Therapy offers an online continuing education course for massage therapists titled Fibromyalgia – Stop The Suffering. The 16 CE course, valid for NCBTMB and most states, covers numerous techniques. These include passive strain/counterstrain neuromuscular re-education, active isotonic/isometric neuromuscular re-education, lymph gland stimulation, abdominal massage, stretching, and reflexology. To learn more about all of these techniques, enroll in our fibromyalgia massage course today.

Photo courtesy of sixninepixels with