The Childbearing Year

The Childbearing Year

The Childbearing Year Soteria Wellness

Four Trimesters of Massage and Bodywork

Pregnancy and the postpartum period are miraculous times of transformation: a woman becomes a mother, a man becomes a father, a couple becomes a family, a child becomes a big brother or sister, a family grows and their hearts enlarge.  At Soteria Wellness, LLC, we honor you and your family in all the stages of this journey.  In the midst of your excitement, anxiety, mood swings, discomforts, joy, and anticipation, we are privileged to serve you in whatever capacity you desire:  massage and CranioSacral Therapy for mom and dad; Growing Family essential oil classes; infant massage classes; and CranioSacral Therapy for your baby.

Pregnancy and childbirth can be the greatest and most fulfilling of a woman’s experiences. It is important that their contribution to life be a time of strength, joy, and happiness. Incorporating bodywork and neuromuscular massage enables one to reduce physical and mental tension, increase strength and endurance, and experience ease and comfort during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
— William J. McKenzie, Jr., M.D.

First Trimester

What a difference it has made! The prenatal massage I received from Dawn helped ease the aches and discomfort an expectant mama experiences as her body makes room for her growing baby. This was not just a regular massage with adjusted positioning. Dawn not only created a comfortable table and atmosphere, she identified and targeted those areas that needed therapeutic work specific to pregnancy concerns and challenges. It was amazing—what every mama deserves!
— Sarah

The first trimester of pregnancy is a time of emotional, mental, and physical change.  Mom may find herself on a roller coaster ride: elated one moment anxious the next, uncontrollably crying a little later; wondering if she's really pregnant because she feels so well one day, and needing to stay close to a toilet from "morning" sickness the next.  Changing hormones may bring fatigue and mood changes. Massage and bodywork can help balance hormones, allowing Mom to come to terms with all of the changes taking place in her life, as well as bringing relief from many of the common discomforts of pregnancy. 

Of course, if this pregnancy is considered high risk or there have been complications in past pregnancies, your midwife or doctor needs to be consulted before scheduling your session.  In these situations, a written consent to receive massage and bodywork is needed.  Even in a normal, healthy pregnancy, it is recommended that  you speak with your healthcare provider about receiving massage.  Dawn is a certified prenatal massage therapist with the Institute of Somatic Therapy.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST), with its light healing touch, may be an especially valuable adjunct to your holistic approach to pregnancy at this time. Clients have discovered relief from stress, nausea, headache, shoulder and low back pain, in the early stages of pregnancy utilizing this soothing modality.  Others report feeling much more emotionally balanced and peaceful after a session.

The Birth Year Second Trimester Soteria Wellness

Second Trimester


In the second trimester, some women begin to have difficulty with circulation as the growing baby puts pressure on the major blood vessels.  Decreased circulation may lead to headaches, varicose veins, swelling (edema), exacerbation of carpal tunnel syndrome, and fatigue.  Besides releasing contracted muscles, massage moves circulation toward the heart reducing swelling and improving blood flow.  Bodywork helps the nervous system relax, which encourages the blood vessels to dilate increasing circulation further.  This can be valuable in balancing blood pressure while minimizing edema. It encourages enhanced delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells of your body, while allowing waste products that may contribute to muscle stiffness and fatigue to be flushed away.

As baby grows many pregnant women feel somewhat uncoordinated as their center of balance is continually changing.  Massage throughout pregnancy helps Mom tune in to where her body is located in space.  Your therapist will provide tips on posture and how to adapt to the fluctuating center of gravity and increased weight as baby grows.  Dawn will share deep breathing and relaxation exercises that will help not only with stress reduction in pregnancy, but during labor as well. Time in a massage or CranioSacral session aids mom's adjustment to the structural changes occurring in her body due to ligament laxity by addressing overly tightened support muscles and connective tissue that cause discomfort. Digestive complaints related to the growing baby, such as heartburn and constipation can also be addressed with massage and bodywork.

Now is the time to begin preparing in earnest for your labor and birth.  By taking care of yourself through optimal nutrition, general fitness, and specific pregnancy exercises; receiving healthy touch; and educating yourself about labor, birth, and parenting options you will be well equipped to confidently handle the days that lie ahead.  Dawn had the privilege of working with over 200 couples through her 14 years as a natural childbirth instructor and doula, forming a strong base of knowledge for her prenatal massage clients. 

I started going to Dawn very early on in my pregnancy and felt those massages and bodywork (CST) helped keep me healthy throughout the pregnancy. I had sciatic nerve issues that I battled for a few weeks with my first pregnancy and as soon as those issues started in my second pregnancy, I knew that any delay could make it worse. Dawn fit me into her schedule immediately. Dawn’s massage and bodywork provided me with relief that I felt almost instantly, and I strongly believe that it helped decrease the length of time I had the intense pain to less than a few days. Dawn had a way of working just the right areas that my body needed during the pregnancy.
— Lindsey

photo courtesy of Rintamaki family

photo courtesy of Rintamaki family

Third Trimester

You have reached the home-stretch!  Some of the earlier challenges may continue and even grow in late pregnancy, but often the greatest shift is in mom's energy level and fatigue.  Massage, bodywork, and specific pregnancy exercises can help optimize both the quantity and quality of sleep, as well as prepare muscles for giving birth.  Many women feel increasing discomfort in their low back as well, since one of the uterine ligaments is attached to the sacrum. As baby grows, it places a continual pull on the low back.  When combined with the increasing laxity of the pelvis and spine, the muscles of the low back and hips tend to overcompensate to stabilize the joints causing hip pain or even impinging the sciatic nerve.  Targeted treatment work in these areas can often bring significant relief.

Soteria Wellness is pleased to offer the use of the BodyCushion™ body support system to enhance your comfort throughout pregnancy.  In early pregnancy you will be comfortably cradled without pressure on tender breasts while the support system provides positional decompression to your lower back and shoulders.  As your pregnancy advances, you will receive massage and bodywork in a well-supported side-lying position and/or reclining on our special massage table, with only brief moments on your back when assessing or stretching tight muscles. 

Some expectant mother's like to invite Dad or another birth coach to come with them to a late pregnancy massage.  Coaches will learn a few techniques to improve mom's comfort at home in the final weeks of pregnancy, and to prepare for "Labor Day."  Please let us know when scheduling if this is your intent for the session.  We love to help growing families help themselves!

Having massage work done during pregnancy was tremendously beneficial for my overall wellness and health, both physically and emotionally. I generally carry most of my tension in my shoulders and upper back, and during my second pregnancy, I also experienced sciatic nerve discomfort during the first and second trimester. Third trimester presented with swollen legs and back pain. I received two pregnancy massages from Dawn in the last trimester, and both provided the muscle relaxation and relief from pregnancy aches and pains that I sought. Knowing Dawn’s extensive background in prenatal care, coupled with her years of experience as a certified childbirth instructor in the Bradley Method®, I felt confident in entrusting my health—as well as my child-to-be-born—into her care.
— Toni

Happy Birth Day!


Deep relaxation in labor promotes a faster, more efficient labor, and decreases pain, making massage in labor by a trusted partner or birth attendant a win-win situation!  After all that waiting and anticipation you finally hold a new precious life in your arms. You did it!  Congratulations!

Photo courtesy of Weijola family

Photo courtesy of Weijola family

Photo courtesy of Weijola family

Photo courtesy of Weijola family


Fourth Trimester

Photo courtesy of ABMP

Photo courtesy of ABMP

The postpartum massages I have received from Dawn have been a significant part in the recovery period, and in maintaining overall wellness. Her table is adjustable to accommodate the ever-changing postpartum figure of a nursing mom, making it unbelievably comfortable and allowing my body to fully relax and settle in. She combined CranioSacral Therapy and Swedish relaxation massage, working on realigning the areas that had been shifted and stretched during pregnancy, labor, birth, and recovery. It also helped with my posture and muscle tightness from nursing and caring for my daughter. Dawn has a gift for identifying what muscles and parts of the body need attention, and providing the support and technique to make incredible changes!
— Sarah

The first three months after baby's arrival compose a symphony of transformation.  All of life is changing--physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial.  In the midst of these changes, no matter how wonderful they are, there is a great deal of family stress and adjustment. CranioSacral Therapy and massage can continue to be an important element of good health and maintaining balance in every area for both parents and child.

Postpartum massage and bodywork help to relieve sore muscles from the delivery and alleviate the muscular strain of holding your baby, especially in the car seat carrier and the many hours spent feeding a newborn.  Bodywork can help restore normal tone and positioning to the uterus and abdominal muscles.  As the tight muscles are released, the mother's pelvis is able to adjust to its non-pregnant position and mom is assisted in realigning her new center of gravity. Many new mothers find CranioSacral Therapy offers relief of lingering pelvic discomfort, headache, and postural distortions after baby's arrival. If a cesarean birth becomes necessary, after your obstetrician has given permission, massage can encourage healthy scar tissue formation. Nurturing touch reassures mom through this challenging time and helps to balance surging hormones, minimizing the baby blues and postpartum depression.

Postpartum massage at Soteria Wellness can be performed using a special torso piece of the body support system. This torso piece eliminates breast compression while allowing perfect support through the breastbone and shoulder blades to allow complete comfort for nursing moms in a face down position.