What it Means to Be a Massage Doula - by admin@mcb on May 01 2018

What it Means to Be a Massage Doula

A doula has a special relationship with an expecting mother. Having a familiarity with massage can help make that bond even stronger. ©iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages
A doula has a special relationship with an expecting mother. Having a familiarity with massage can help make that bond even stronger. ©iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

A massage doula is a certified massage therapist trained to provide support during the birthing process. The three-pronged definition of a doula is one who provides: 1) emotional support, 2) physical comfort, and 3) information. The doula is there specifically to meet the mother’s needs. A birthing women benefits from a doula by receiving focused care that  primary medical providers may be unable to provide.

Doulas have a unique opportunity to serve women during childbirth. Many times the mother depends on her doula more than the doctors and nurses in the room for support and advice. This is where a background in massage therapy is beneficial for doulas. As a massage therapist you understand the benefits of relaxation and can help a mother feel calm and focused during the birth. This is especially enhanced if you have been working with her by providing prenatal massage therapy for several months leading up to labor.

Becoming a Certified Massage Doula

Our team at the Institute of Somatic Therapy has developed a certified massage doula program. This online three-part course trains massage therapists to perform prenatal massage, doula labor support, and postpartum massage. The doula portion of the course teaches many topics. It focuses on how to provide physical comfort, explain the medical benefits of a doula, and. provide pre-labor and labor coaching. You will learn a variety of laboring positions and their purposes and benefits, and how to support your client through potential labor complications.

At the Institute of Somatic Therapy we also offer a variety of additional online massage therapy courses for all of your continuing education goals. Visit us online today to learn more.

Compare Massage Doula With a Regular Doula - by admin@mcb on May 11 2016

Compare Massage Doula With a Regular Doula

How do you compare massage doula with a doula (a “regular” non-massage doula)?

A doula is a person, who is trained to provide physical comfort, emotional support, and information to a woman during the childbirthing process. A massage doula is a massage therapist who is also trained as a doula. With a background in massage therapy, a massage doula has more skills to serve her prenatal and birthing clients.

Most massage doulas are certified in prenatal massage, and possibly even infant massage. The services they can bring to a woman during her pregnancy, labor, and postpartum periods include more services than a non-massage therapist doula can bring.

Prenatal Massage

Prenatal massage therapy provides many benefits. Not only can it be a drug free method of reliving the aches and pains of pregnancy, it can also help a woman be better prepared for labor. Massage can help loosen tightness so the woman goes into labor with her body as free from tension as possible. During massage, proprioception (body awareness) is developed. This increased body awareness is helpful during contractions, to enable the woman to better relax muscles not involved in the birthing process, which helps to preserve strength and reduce unnecessary tension. Additionally, the massage doula and client develop an unspoken communication during the prenatal massages that will be beneficial in labor. The therapist will recognize abnormal muscle tension in the client, and can use that knowledge to target areas that need it the most during labor.

Doula Support

During labor, a massage doula will have much more expertise in helping to relieve muscle tension that invariably arises during contractions. Between the anatomical and muscular knowledge and experience with many bodywork modalities, a massage doula will have an advantage over a regular doula in bringing relaxation to the client. Additionally, like any doula, a massage doula is trained in topics such as positions and techniques to alleviate back labor, common complications and interventions with labor, and breathing and relaxation techniques for labor.


The massage doula will be able to perform postpartum massage designed to help the body return to its non-pregnant posture and balance. If also trained in infant massage, the massage doula will be able to teach the new parents how to massage their babies.

So the answer to our initial question, how do you compare massage doula with a regular doula?  A doula is a great idea. A massage doula is an even better one.

How to become a massage doula

Massage therapists can become certified in prenatal massage, doula support, and infant massage with online continuing education classes offered by the Institute of Somatic Therapy. Institute of Somatic Therapy (Judith Koch) is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education approved provider #280672-00. Our courses are also valid for Florida, Georgia, New York, AMTA, ABMP, and most states.

Illustration: “Business Concept, Businessman Compares Big Idea To Small Idea. Illustration” by aechan, courtesy of freedigitialphoto.net.

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.

Prenatal Massage Compared to Standard Massage - by admin@mcb on February 17 2016

Prenatal Massage Compared to Standard Massage

Prenatal Massage Compared to Standard Massage

Certified prenatal massage therapists are often asked how a prenatal massage differs from a standard massage. It boils down to having an understanding of the changes going on in a pregnant body, and adapting the massage accordingly.
Every system of the body is affected by pregnancy, and these systems both require, and benefit from, adaptations in massage technique. Without an understanding of all of these changes occurring in the woman’s body, an untrained therapist is not going to give the most beneficial and safest massage possible.  Below are two examples.

Cardiovascular System

During pregnancy, the cardiovascular system increases the output of blood by 20 to 30% by the 27th week of pregnancy, the heart rate increases about 10 to 15%, and the total volume of blood in the entire body increases from 30 to 50%, most during the final trimester.

This requires three modifications from a general massage: 1) Avoid all percussion strokes, 2) watch for varicose veins and proceed as instructed in their presence, and 3) use positioning to keep the weight of the baby off the vena cava.

Skeletal System

During pregnancy, the skeletal system is stressed from the extra weight being carried during pregnancy which causes a shift in the body’s center of gravity. This extra weight primarily in the midsection can cause pregnant women to experience unusual lordosis of the lumbar spine. Their joints are less stable due to the presence of the hormone relaxin, which relaxes the ligaments to allow the pelvis to spread for delivery.

This requires two modifications from a standard massage: 1) Look for and address any back pain caused by lumbar stress. 2) Avoid strenuous stretching or range of motion techniques, to be mindful of the lowered stability of the joints.

Comprehensive Prenatal Massage Training

The above are just two examples. For the best outcome, prenatal massage requires modifications for the other systems of the body as well. Respiratory, digestive, renal, endocrine, and integumentary changes and their impact on massage should be part of a comprehensive prenatal massage education course.

To learn more about becoming a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist, visit Institute of Somatic Therapy’s two step prenatal massage courses:  Fundamentals (Step One), and Techniques (Step Two).

Massage the Pain Away for Pregnant Women - by admin@mcb on August 17 2015

Massage the Pain Away for Pregnant Women

 One effective way of combating the aches, pains, and stress of pregnancy is massage therapy. ©iStockphoto.com/alwekelo
One effective way of combating the aches, pains, and stress of pregnancy is massage therapy. ©iStockphoto.com/alwekelo

A woman’s body undergoes an amazing transformation during pregnancy. Not only is a new life growing and developing inside of her but her own body is rapidly changing to meet the demands of pregnancy. These changes often bring specific types of pain that can cause discomfort and induce stress in a pregnant mother. One effective way of combating the aches, pains, and stress is massage therapy.

Massage for pregnant women is a targeted practice that addresses the specific types of pain that accompany pregnancy. Regular prenatal massage can help to relax tense muscles, improve circulation, boost mobility, and relieve pain. Specific massage techniques and the proper positioning of a client can help address the pain associated with the changes in a pregnant woman’s center of gravity. Women typically experience increased stress in their lower back, shoulders, and neck. Targeted massage of these areas can help relieve the pain. It’s essential to ask clients exactly where they are experiencing pain so you can customize the massage sessions to meet their individual needs.

At the Institute of Somatic Therapy we offer courses in massage for pregnant women. Visit us online today to learn more about all of the courses we offer and the exciting topics designed to help you grow and transform your massage therapy practice.

Recommend That Your Clients Keep Exercising During Pregnancy - by admin@mcb on July 02 2015

Recommend That Your Clients Keep Exercising During Pregnancy

exercise while pregnant
Exercising while pregnant can help expectant mothers alleviate aches and reduce the likelihood of a Cesarean birth. ©iStockphoto.com/ElinaManninen

Prenatal massage is an excellent way for expectant mothers to relax and cope with the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy. As a trusted massage therapist we encourage you to work with your expectant clients throughout their pregnancies to promote overall health and well-being including exercise. Recent research has provided even more evidence that exercising while pregnant offers both moms and babies an abundance of benefits.

Exercise during pregnancy can:

  • Alleviate aches and pains- Many clients seeking massage for pregnant women report aches and pains throughout their pregnancy. Not only can massage therapy help reduce these aches and pains but exercise can contribute to feeling better as well. Regular exercise helps to stretch and relax the joints and muscles expectant mothers report as causing the most pain and discomfort.
  • Reduce the likelihood of a Ceasarean birth- Women who exercised while pregnant reduced their chances of having a Ceasarean birth by 20%. Mothers that exercised at least 3 hours a week also saw an overall reduction in the amount of medical interventions necessary during their pregnancies.
  • Normalize birth weight- There is a statistical link between high birth weight and obesity in children. Regular exercise by expectant mothers can reduce this link by normalizing birth weight and reducing a mom’s risk of having a large baby by 31%.

At the Institute of Somatic Therapy we offer courses focused on massage for pregnant women. Visit us online today to learn more.

Expand Your Massage Therapy Business by Getting a Certification in Prenatal Massage - by admin@mcb on January 28 2015

Expand Your Massage Therapy Business by Getting a Certification in Prenatal Massage

One of the quickest growing demographics in massage therapy is pregnant women. Women have discovered that participating in massage therapy helps them cope with the changes present in their body during pregnancy and provides essential emotional and physical benefits. Massage for pregnant women is an excellent way to expand your massage therapy business and to maintain a large client base.

massage for pregnant women
Source: Freedigitalphotos

You will gain essential skills and knowledge while earning a certificate in pre-natal massage, including:

  • How prenatal massage can help boost the mother’s physical and emotional well-being.
  • Which pregnancy-related complications can be aided by prenatal massage therapy.
  • The changes that occur in a woman’s body and how these changes require deviations from a standard massage therapy routine.
  • How to market your pre-natal massage therapy service.
  • Which forms are necessary for record keeping and appropriate release of liability.

Completing a certificate in pre-natal massage provides the opportunity for professionals to learn more about the complexities of massage for pregnant women. There are specific techniques, adaptive positions, and pressure points contraindicated during pregnancy that differ from traditional massage therapy. Pregnant women in need of massage therapy want a practitioner with experience in the specific differences of a woman’s body during pregnancy and techniques designed specifically for pre-natal massage.

Adding pre-natal massage to the services you offer provides an opportunity to expand your business. You will be able to market yourself as a therapist with a wide range of experience and will attract new clients to your business. Effective pre-natal massage can lead to a long term client relationship long after the pregnancy is over.

To learn more about massage for pregnant women and the other certifications offered by the Institute of Somatic Therapy, visit our website today.