Recently my 10-year-old son Louis has been in his element at school! Every day after first playtime his new teacher has been guiding his class, breathless from crammed play, through a Relax Kids routine. This is through a company that in it’s own words “Equips children with skills for life, promoting healthy habits and life long wellbeing”. Each day is different: sometimes its yoga style stretching, sometimes guided body scans and breathing techniques and sometimes, Louis’ favourite, self- massage. In fact he’s a bit of a fiend for massage, at night when I tuck him in bed he often stretches out his arms or feet towards me for a few minutes of kneading. To him it’s perfectly normal to have this expectation.
Of course being me I put this love of massage down to the weekly treatments I received when I was pregnant with him. They were a life -line; in fact my partner would gently suggest I book a treatment when he could feel temperatures rising. My hips sore from long nights of lying on my sides were eased, tight shoulders dropped down from my ears, swollen feet shrank back and my lower back was much happier. Above all however it felt like this was time to slow down and listen. Listen and take stock of what was happening to my body, my growing bump, home to a baby boy who would grow to be a bouncy, creative, and really quite stubborn massage monster with a sunny disposition.
Over the years I have worked with many pregnant women in my treatment room and, yes, most of them have similar complaints to my own when I was expecting my children. What never ceases to amaze me however is how pregnancy affects us all so differently and, sometimes, in very bizarre and unexpected ways. A strange itch in the upper arms, a dislike of a particular smell, dry skin behind the knees, crazy dreams and equally crazy sleep patterns … When a woman comes for a treatment she brings all of this with her. We can discuss and explore these changes and then, gently working with the body, say hello to all those peculiar ailments as well as the more common ones. The time a woman takes to honour and soothe her changing and yes, expanding body can make her feel more at home and more embodied. Who knows; maybe 10 years down the line she will see a tender foot poking out of the duvet. ‘massage me, Mum!’