How Bowen Therapy and Massage can support the Breastfeeding processes.
It is with great pleasure that I present our first guest blog post, Tess Gifford is a qualified Bowen and Massage Therapist and she has a passion for how bodies work. Enjoy this delve into the body of breastfeeding. This is part one of a two part series on Bowen Therapy and Massage, enjoy reading about another professional's passion for dealing with the fascinating world of bodies.
As the mother of 2 children I know the challenges that can arise while breastfeeding. Whether ‘big’ or ‘small’, in the overwhelming first days of parenthood, they all feel big.
Take heart, there’s so much support available to you. As a Bowen and Massage Therapist I’ve been working with bodies for over 10 years, with people from all walks of life, and women in all stages of pregnancy and parenthood. I feel blessed and privileged to have been in sacred birthing space, and helped people through their body issues and healing journeys. I’d love to share some of the knowledge and incredible benefits that body work can have on breastfeeding.
In part one of a two part blog I’ll explain what Bowen and Massage therapy are. In part two, I’ll dive into the juicy details of the benefits of these incredible therapies for you and your baby.
Firstly, what is Bowen therapy?
Most people have heard of the benefits of massage therapy and may treat themselves regularly, but what of Bowen Therapy; what is it and how can it help?
Bowen therapy is a gentle and complimentary, non-invasive, soft tissue remedial therapy. It facilitates the healing process, relieves physical dysfunction and pain, and can be used in preventative care. Bowen therapy works to directly impact fascia, a connective tissue that sits between the skin and the underlying structures, and the systems that move through it. The fascia is a fibrous network, appearing as a weblike structure, which can influence the effectiveness of the circulatory, nervous, endocrine and lymphatic systems. It effects muscle function and houses the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and nerves.
When restriction and adhesion occurs within the fascia due to dehydration, injury or dysfunction, the bundled fibres of the fascia draw close becoming ‘glued’. The distance between the fibres (the Critical Interfibre Distance or CID) reduces, restricting the movement and flow of structures and fluids within the fascia. The transverse push and pull action of the Bowen move aims to separate the fibres of this connective tissue restoring the CID.
Bowen therapy impacts the function of the breast on a number of levels. The breast itself has no muscle and relies on the surrounding muscles for shape, and has suspensory ligaments known as the ‘Ligaments of Cooper’ that join onto the deep and superficial layers of the superficial pectoral fascia which envelopes the mammary tissue. The systems that run through the fascia each has an impact on the function of the breast, particularly the endocrine system in breastfeeding, and each is by affected by the health of the fascia.
Bowen moves performed along the clavicle, the intercostal spaces of the first 4 ribs, the armpit and the fascia of the pectoral (chest) muscles directly impacts the nerves and blood vessels that supply the breasts.
The lymphatics originate in the lymph capillaries of the mammary connective tissue which envelops the breast, then drains mainly into the axillary nodes (armpit) and parasternal nodes (sternum).
Again, these are all impacted by specific Bowen moves done on the breast and surrounding tissue.
Massage therapy comes in many and varied shapes and sizes, much like us. Relaxation, Therapeutic, Remedial, Sports, Shiatsu, Lymphatic, Aromatherapy, Kahuna, Deep Tissue, Thai, and more, whatever the type, the key is finding a therapist that works for your body’s needs and likes.
I am qualified and practice in Relaxation and Therapeutic Massage. Relaxation massage is pretty self explanatory; it’s aim is to promote relaxation, reduce stress and increase your overall sense of wellbeing. The therapist uses long, smooth, flowing strokes, kneading and a constant pressure that is deeply relaxing, but not painful.
Therapeutic Massage Therapy is the manual manipulation of soft body tissues to enhance a person’s health and well-being. It is a complimentary, non-invasive body therapy that utilizes long gliding strokes, kneading, friction and deep pressure to facilitate pain relief and relaxation.
Massage impacts a number of systems of the body, most obviously, the muscular system. It can relieve tension, decrease pain, improve the recovery of some soft tissue injuries, and relax muscle tissue. Massage also improves blood circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system and can increase joint mobility and flexibility. And it can assist your body while breastfeeding.
Best of all it makes you feel fantastic, and at this exciting, hectic, and beautiful time of your life, who couldn’t use a bit of that :)