Watsu for a Peaceful and Balanced Pregnancy

Watsu with Janis at the end of her pregnancy, Spain.

In our Western culture, mothers-to-be are under high levels of stress and often view pregnancy as a medical condition. Stress is one of the greatest enemies of a healthy pregnancy.  In ancient Chinese medicine, it is believed that pregnancy is joyous and natural, and that the energetic connection between mother and baby is formative. An old Chinese proverb says: “The mother shouldn’t ever look with a crooked eye, her ears should never listen to bad things, her mouth should not say any bad word”. While this may seem extreme or even impossible, expecting families can take measures to ensure that the childbearing year is a low-stress and special time.

As the baby grows, body’s systems may be challenged to keep up; hormones and big emotions flow freely, sometimes like a roller coaster.  The progressive bonding that naturally happens between mother and child during pregnancy and beyond is significantly increased when the mother is able to stop, look inward, and listen.  Massage during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum has a long and honorable tradition and is one of the safest and most effective ways to reduce tension, stress, and anxiety.  Aditional benefits of prental massage include decreasing chronic muscle tension, increasing blood and lymphatic circulation, reducing swelling, fostering deep breathing, along with relief of back, shoulder and neck pain, muscle spasms, sciatica, and stress relief. Massage also supports the dynamic physical and emotional changes of pregnancy.

Water is the source of life on this planet. It is an environment familiar from before birth, as babies grow in amniotic fluid, and it is an ideal medium for massage during pregnancy. As Michel Odent, internationally famous childbirth pioneer, says: “It is during their pregnancies that many women develop an enhanced capacity to rediscover forgotten aspects of Human Nature. Via their strong attraction to water, many pregnant and labouring women tell us that Homo Sapiens are more aquatic primates than is usually believed”.  Being immersed in water feels especially good when you’re pregnant, and there are many physiological reasons why. Now imagine how amazing it is to receive stellar bodywork in warm water, nearly free of gravity and with 360 degree movement!

Watsu session with Daron at the end of her pregnancy, Portland
Watsu is an aquatic bodywork technique based on the framework of Shiatsu and includes acupressure with fingers, thumbs, and palms; assisted stretching; and joint manipulation in warm water. Watsu is an ideal wellness practice for pregnancy because it supports your joints, allows for safe stretching and lengthening, and ultimately can make a difference in your comfort   and confidence during pregnancy, labor, and recovery. It has also been proven that Watsu can help with labor induction and breech position.

Watsu with Theresa at the end of her second thrimester, Portland
During a Watsu session you will be gently and safely floated, rhythmically moved, stretched, and massaged. The weightlessness and warmth of the water decompress the spine, loosen joints, and relax muscles. You will feel a freedom of movement that liberates tension. Thoughts and feelings flow freely and are cleansed. A feeling of peace and wellness overcomes the body and spirit. As if in the womb herself, the mother feels warm, secure, and serene, which creates the ideal environment for nurturing the connection between mother and baby, as well as strengthening trust and acceptance of the journey ahead.

Victor Barreda-Pazos
Founder of Aqua4Life Prenatal Watsu and Massage. 
Watsu Professional and Licensed Massage Therapist in Oregon #22189.  

I currently offer prenatal Watsu at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, and prenatal massage at Zenana Spa, both locations in Portland, OR. As I became a father seven years ago, I discovered a new passion for the power of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood.  It is my most sincere belief that we can make this world a better place by better caring for pregnancy and birth.  The services that I offer to pregnant women, newborns, and couples deeply honor and enrich the childbearing year and inspire health and balance.

Watsu with Espe two days before her natural birth at home, Spain
“I received a Watsu session two days past my estimated due date. I had painful contractions every ten minutes. I entered into the warm water and the discomfort of the contractions stopped. I weighed nothing, my belly weighed nothing, and we rocked. With my eyes closed, looking into myself and connecting with my baby, we were gently moved through the water. It was quiet, there was peace, there was introspection. I felt like my baby was no longer inside of me, as if the two of us were cuddling and dancing a relaxed and tender aquatic dance. I was planning a hospital birth, but my second child was born two days later in a beautiful vaginal birth at home. I did not tear and I had no problems with my previous cesarean birth. I was relaxed, calm, secure, and deeply peaceful, just as I was when I emerged from the session.” – Esperanza (Spain)