This post was most recently updated on March 14th, 2017
A healing and nurturing ritual for the postpartum period, by Sophie Messager and Maddie McMahon
For more information and to find a Bone Closer, see this website.
Sophie Messager and I run a Closing the Bones Study days. This day is for you if you want to learn this postnatal massage, or you want a chance to practice the skill again. We talk a bit about our experiences working with clients and the emotional and spiritual elements to this healing ritual as well as teach the elements to the massage. Here’s your chance to get to grips with this skill and take it back to your community. If you’d like to enquire about attending the day, please contact us. Read on for more information about Closing the Bones and read some testimonials from clients and workshop attendees.
For workshop dates and to book see the Closing the Bones website
Read on for more info on the Closing the Bones Workshop…
We were taught this traditional massage at the Doula UK retreat in Cae Mabon, Wales, by Rocio Alarcon. Rocio is an amazing woman from Ecuador. She was trained in traditional midwifery, shamanism and, ethnobotany by her mother and grandmother, and she also holds a PhD in ethnobotany.
Rocio talking about closing the bones at Cae Mabon
Rocio explained that if we did MRI scans of pregnant women we would see how the hips open during the pregnancy, becoming wider and wider, and that after the birth it is paramount to help close them back to their normal width, otherwise mothers suffer from pelvic instability (Rocio attributes the many women suffering from hip issues in our society to the lack of closing the bones massages post birth) and leak energy.
In Ecuador, women are given this massage within hours of the birth, and receive it again at least 5 or 6 times during the first 40 days postpartum. The massage stimulates blood flow which in turn; cleans, renews, moves fluids (may help with milk supply/lochia), moving hormones, immune system, toning muscles and tissue. In traditional cultures, the 41 days of the postnatal period represent a sacred time. In this time the woman will have the closing massage at least 5 times, the first being 6 hours after birth, this begins to put the bladder and uterus back into place.
Rocio also explained that the hips support the weight of the spine and head and that they are therefore the seat of unresolved emotions and trauma, which can be felt upon the hips as adrenalin crystals, that need to be popped and released during the massage.
The massage itself includes sifting with a rebozo, using the rebozo for closing the hip bones, and using various hand massage techniques using oil around the pubic bones, belly and around the hips. You can use any oil but we love the Closing the bones oil made from a recipe given by Rocio, by Doulas Jess and Jess of Mama Baby Wise (http://www.mamababywise.co.uk/)
We feel that beyond the physical aspect of closing the bones, there is a spiritual aspect to the massage, which provide a safe space/ritual for the mother to feel nurtured and release emotions associated with the birth and motherhood. Having experienced the massage ourselves and given the massage to new and not so new mothers, we have both experienced and witness how powerful this ritual can be in releasing birth emotions, even many years after the birth itself.
We have offered and given this massage to a few of our clients. Working
together as a pair to massage and nurture the woman has been a deeply emotional experience for both we doulas and the mother. It is a time out for her; a time to have a silent communion with herself and reflect on her journey to motherhood and to feel the loving hands of her sisters. We recently massaged a woman who was 2 years into her mothering. At the end, after her rebozo sifting, we wrapped the rebozo around her hips and sat, one each side of her, each giving firm traction on an end of the scarf, closing her hips.
Her tears began to flow. We sat and held her space for some time and, when it felt right, we released the rebozo and covered her in a blanket and sat silently, each with a hand on her, as she cried. We could sense it was a well-overdue release for her.
Some days later, she told us that a great shift had happened inside her. She has released feelings about her birth and the pent up tensions of the last 2 years and now everything felt different. This experience has reiterated for us how powerful and necessary it is to spend time nurturing the mother in a very physical way, honouring her amazing pelvis.
[Maddie] Personally, I know how deeply releasing this massage is. I had no idea how much emotion I had repressed and stored in my body until Rocio laid her hands on my hips. My last child was born 9 years before that massage and I thought I was fully debriefed! Little did I know that such emotion was lying just under the surface, and how much better I would feel after experiencing the powerful effect of my bones being closed.
We run regular Closing the Bones days here in Cambridgeshire, teaching other doulas, practising and passing on the skills, whilst nurturing each other. All are welcome.
Comments from previous attendees of the workshop:
Amazing, emotional and cleansing. I feel very supported as a new mum and feel hugged by the love this ceremony brings. Thank you for sharing this lovely technique.
Powerful, nurturing, supportive. Wonderful to be with such wise women.
Fantastic day. Thanks so much for sharing the knowledge. Such a blessing and joy.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it even more useful that I had expected.
Cost: £89. If you’d like to pay in a few chunks, let me know. If you’re a doula who does Access Fund work, or you are in hardship yourself, contact me about your discount.