When I was 6 months pregnant with my son Ian, I started Phase 3 of the Rolfing® training. Although I had doubts that the intensive training might be a little too much for me and the baby, it turned out to be the perfect container, in which I felt safe at any given moment. I was supported by my teachers and colleagues. Most importantly, I felt supported by gravity.
I knew about gravity, but I hadn’t felt how gravity affects my posture and my daily life. Gravity was just there and I could easily get out of alignment with that force each time my belly grew. In the embodiment practices of the Rolfing training, I discovered ‘the line’, as it is called in Rolfing. I experienced ‘the line’ as an axis that flows through my body in a dynamic way. I had a feeling for my body center in a sense of a strong core, but Rolfing sessions expanded my understanding of my center into an interconnection between my body and the space around me. My feet could root down into the ground, while my head and my senses were oriented into space in a vivid and light way. I learned that I don’t need to carry my growing belly in front of my body, which strained my lower back. Instead, I felt my son inside of my body and I carried him close to my midline. I was aligned.
My teachers and colleagues were careful with manual techniques, that could affect my pelvic floor or trigger premature contractions. I am aware of guidelines which discourage from massage techniques during pregnancy. For me, it was liberating to learn, that my body knew what it needed. I didn’t rely on concepts of what might be too much for me. My body and my son gave me a sign, whether I needed to slow down. I received the Rolfing touch every day and I enjoyed it a lot, since it helped me release the muscles of my back, neck and legs, which tended to tighten up.
Furthermore, it helped me sense my shapeshifting body. I felt tender and open for the upcoming birth. This wasn’t just an opening of my physical body, but also an opening on an energetic and emotional level, which can’t be put into words easily. My self-perception became softer and broader and I was growing into my new identity as a mother. Rolfing is a manual therapy, but for me, there is some more to it. It is a method of realising your humanness.
Receiving Rolfing sessions during my pregnancy helped me trust my body. When my contractions started, I could surrender to the process with a strong sense that my body was able to give birth. My son, Ian, was a big baby weighing over 4kg, and since I am rather ‘petite’, I am grateful that I could experience a natural birth, without the need of a peridural anesthesia. I didn’t have childbirth related injuries either. I believe Rolfing strongly contributed to this. It is not only about relieving pregnancy associated symptoms but empowers women to experience the adaptability and resilience of their own bodies.
When I was giving Rolfing sessions, I made another observation regarding my son. Each time I gave a session, Ian was completely calm in my belly. It was not only a time of nonverbal connection with my client, but also a meditation for mother and child. I sometimes could feel the polyrhythm of 3 beating hearts. Two steady heartbeats from myself and my client and a fast and light one layered on top. As a pleasant side effect of my weight gain, I could use my belly and my weight to sink into the fascia of my clients. I didn’t use force, but I felt so powerful.
I can definitely encourage Rolfers® to give sessions during pregnancy but I especially recommend Rolfing sessions during pregnancy to accompany that magical time of a woman’s life.
Author: Certified Rolfer®, Lea Kabirschke - Germany
Photo Credit: Cover image - Sonja Whatson, below images - Tania Schmid