I am an experienced massage therapist, confident in my skills but the Well Mother Massage & Pregnancy Diploma Course was about pregnant ladies, something about which I have limited professional and no personal experience. However, I knew that I wanted to explore an aspect of pregnancy even further from my field of understanding; to write about the fathers (rather, the non-pregnant parent, but referred to as 'father' throughout these articles); the parent whose body would not adapt and change to accommodate their growing baby, who would not experience the physical symptoms, the hormonal reactions, would not face the fear of their body releasing another life into the world. I wanted to write about those whose role society mostly relegates to that of spectator.
From the beginning, everything is about mom and baby, and the majority of the time the dad is left out once conception occurs. Dad becomes nothing more than support staff, not an active participant in the process. [Joshua Florence, a father quoted in 'Father-Baby Bonding: Infant Massage Builds Bridges that Last a Lifetime' by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT in Issue 213 of Massage Magazine (Feb 2014)]
This series of articles has been adapted from the written assignment I completed as part of my Diploma and which earned me a distinction. These articles explore the role that massage can play in helping and supporting the father during a transformative time in his life, with a particular focus on how it can enable him to bond with his baby.
Having undertaken my Diploma and qualified, I am very excited to add pregnancy massage to Bristol Massage Therapy. It is always an honour to work with expectant ladies as they move through each trimester of their pregnancy, but I have also realised that I want to reinforce the importance of massage for fathers-to-be, as receivers, as givers and its role in enabling them to bond with their new child both pre and post natally. In time, I would like to undertake training in infant massage, and if possible in future, to include working with babies and parents of babies with special needs. My brother was one such baby, and the love, hard work and devotion of my parents, particularly my mother, has resulted in a wonderful man whose potentially devastating start to life you would never guess at.
If children are our future, the physical health and mental well-being of the parents of these children is more vital than we realised for a very long time. Thank goodness that times are changing and the role of the father is being recognised and supported.
For the vast majority of mothers, an important ingredient for her successful pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding is the quality of care she receives from the father. Fathers DO make a world of difference and isn’t it time for society to better support our children, mothers and fathers? [Fathers do make a difference ... birth? by Patrick M. Houser]
All books quoted in these articles are available to borrow from the Lending Library.
I dedicate these articles and my work with fathers to my own father, from whom I have learnt so much about ignoring the nay-sayers, following my dreams & listening to my heart.