INTRODUCTION Much has been written and scientifically validated about the beneficial effects of massage on almost every major body system. It is also a well-documented fact that massage is a powerful tool in reducing stress and its deleterious effects. The stress and anxiety a pregnant woman experiences will definitely work against her. Blood catecholamine1 levels increase and interfere with the work of oxytocin and other labor-promoting hormones. There is also an adverse effect on the developing fetus. In other words, whatever the expectant mother feels is directly passed on to her growing child. Enter the oldest healing art: massage. During pregnancy, massage can safely, comfortably, and effectively relieve stress, whether it is physical, emotional, and/or psychological in origin. With so many women returning to more holistic health choices and birthing practices, the use of massage to treat the discomforts of pregnancy is a natural response. Massage is a potent way to take charge of your own pregnancy, to reclaim your birthright. Every time you experience a positive response to the treatments in this book, your success empowers you with more control, security, and confidence for an easier birth outcome. Mother Massage has been written to involve both expectant parents. Fathers now share birth preparation classes, attend the births, and are more aggressively pursuing paternity rights and privileges in the workplace. By using the easy massage techniques in this book, he can also participate during the nine-month process and help support and ease the discomforts of his partner's pregnancy. Each technique is no longer than ten or fifteen minutes in duration and is clearly illustrated for easy reference. The treatments reduce the effects of many of the most common problems a pregnant woman might incur and can be used as often as necessary. The intimate nature of touch has the additional advantage of bringing two people closer together. At a time when emotions and sensitivities are already heightened, massage enhances interpersonal communication even further. A deeper involvement develops for the provider as he helps his partner enjoy this most exciting experience. Infant massage is included as a natural progression to the pregnancy. This special treatment helps both child and parent form a unique bond of love, trust, and nurturing. It also offers the father an opportunity to express his tender feelings, no longer considered an exclusive maternal right. All attempts have been made to clarify when each partner is being addressed. Mother Massage speaks to the expectant mother about the development of her pregnancy and self-massage techniques. The expectant father is addressed during most of the massage techniques of Chapter 2 (Chapter 3 is for both partners equally), labor, and postpartum massages. My expectant clients respond to their pregnancies with the most interesting reactions. Some of them are astounded how their bodies know just what to do. Others have to be reassured that pregnancy is not a permanent condition and that their figures will return. Most of them agree, however, about how strong, ready, and prepared they feel as a result of the massages. Use Mother Massage throughout your pregnancy and postpartum weeks. The chapter on full body massage can be used at any time after the pregnancy and for either partner. So I hope you enjoy this book and reap the benefits of massage for a long time! Elaine Stillerman New York City, 1991 Chapter 1 The Massage Techniques Women in tribal societies resume normal activities almost immediately after birthing. To get back into shape quickly, these women employ a number of natural techniques, including massage, abdominal binding, herbal treatments, diet, and steaming of the perineal region. All of these methods help the new mother to regain her strength, heal faster, and ease her way in sStillerman, Elaine is the author of 'Mother Massage A Handbook for Relieving the Discomforts of Pregnancy' with ISBN 9780440507024 and ISBN 0440507022.