Closing the Bones

‘Closing the Bones’ abdominal massage is an honouring of motherhood, a celebration of childbirth and the amazing female body, the easing of muscles which have recently laboured, stretched and pushed, and a nurturing, loving touch. It is an ancient practice, a gift for new mothers which has been largely lost and forgotten by the modern, fast-paced world in which we live.

I learnt ‘Closing the Bones’ from Rocio Alarcon whose deep wisdom and knowledge about birth and the traditional ways of women made the learning a privilege. Rocio, who comes from Ecuador, taught a group of birth doulas this wonderful massage during a retreat in Snowdonia.  We all received a massage as well as learning how to provide it. The intense sense of well-being, relaxation and physical and mental calm was deeply affecting.

On a physical level, the organs of the abdomen are massaged, the uterus gently lifted, the hips squeezed and the entire area manipulated to help return the body to something like its pre-birth state. A rebozo (large shawl-type cloth) is used gently to rock the hips, then tied tightly around the body at the end of the massage to provide the feeling of security and being held. Gentle music, soft lighting and warmth help to create the atmosphere of relaxation and healing. The session ends with 15mins lying still then a cup of herb tea to revive, and a debrief if required. I like to allow a good 1.5hrs for this massage from start to finish.

One of the doulas on the course with Rocio was an Indian lady. To her, this kind of post birth massage was normal and she described to us how, for ten days following the birth of her child, her mother would daily massage her abdomen gently with sweeping strokes, murmering and soothing all the while. How I wish we could all live in a world like this!

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