I’m so excited to be starting a new, on-going blog series about the amazing people serving pregnant and new parents in the DC area. In this first post, you will hear from Tracie, a massage therapist in Capitol Hill and owner of My Orange Wellness. It’s especially wonderful for me to share this conversation with you as Tracie has been my massage therapist for the last two years, and writing this blog post has helped me know Tracie even better.
Tell us a little about you. Why did you decide to become a massage therapist?
My name is Tracie Turnipseed, and I grew up in N. Potomac MD. I received an undergraduate degree from UMCP, and a massage degree from Potomac Massage Training Institute, now located in Silver Spring, MD.
After working in case management and Psychosocial Therapy, I wanted to add another aspect of aiding people in their wellness, and decided to look into different Holistic Therapy. My mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at any early age. Research suggested that positive touch through massage could be beneficial in helping to slow down the disease process. Anything to help her fight this awful and debilitating disease became my main focus.
What led you to focus on prenatal massage?
While going through my pregnancy with my second son, my body became inflamed. I had bad acne which I attributed to hormones. Around my seventh month, I started getting joint inflammation, and muscle pain. There were days that I couldn't walk or move my arms, or even sometimes my entire body.
After giving labor and a few more weeks of inflammation, I found out I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, a condition of the autoimmune system that never goes away. I made the decision then to help other women during their pregnancy, because no woman should have to go through this debilitating pain during what should be the happiest time of their lives.
How can massage help women throughout the journey of fertility, pregnancy and postpartum?
Massage has many benefits during pregnancy as well as postnatally to include; relief from back and hip pain, sciatic pain, joint and nerve pain, pubic symphysis disorder, increased circulation, stress relief, swelling in the hands and feet, and many other symptoms that are pregnancy related.
Fertility massage can aid women during their natural cycle, or if combined with ART (Artificial Reproductive Technology). Fertility Massage can help to clear abdominal adhesions, aid in growing follicles and the uterine lining, detox the lymphatic system, help with amenorrhea, and increased blood flow to the uterus and abdominal area. Fertility massage is also helpful in relieving issues associated with PCOS, endometriosis, and crones disease.
Is massage something people should turn to when they are having a pressing issue or is it more valuable to receive regular care?
Massage is not only for a pressing issue. In fact, massage can be used regularly to help reduce stress. For those who exercise, massage can help prevent injury. Massage Therapy should be thought of as a preventive health care modality.
Can massage really help induce labor?
Induction Massage can be used to help encourage the release of hormones and to encourage constructive regularly timed contractions. Induction massage as used in my practice, also helps to prepare mom mentally and physically for labor.
Stress, as one can imagine, is the biggest concern of most mothers entering into labor, whether it's their first child or their fourth. I also assist in loosening up tight hip and pelvic muscles to better prepare for the physical act of giving birth.
Are there any common misconceptions about massage that you want to clear up?
Common massage misconceptions;
- Massage needs to hurt to work. Massage does not have to hurt to achieve your goals of wellness and pain relief.
- Pregnant women can't receive foot massage because it will put them into early labor. There is no magic point that I know of that will send Mom into immediate labor, but there are suggested points to avoid during pregnancy. Everyone's body is different and reacts differently to stimulation, so safety remains a concern whether or not a client is pregnant or not.
- Flexible Health plans can't be used to pay for Massage Therapy. Flexible health care plans (currently) can be used to pay for therapeutic massage sessions used to aid in wellness in healing.
- Pregnant women can only have light touch massage, and cannot have deep work. There are points to avoid during pregnancy, but deep work can be used on the majority of a woman's body during pregnancy.
- Face down or prone massage during pregnancy can stretch a woman's uterine ligaments and smush the baby. There is no research supporting this. In fact receiving massage laying prone with the proper cushioning can help support the mother's lower back, while relieving pressure placed on the sacrum and coxis bone. I give on average 200 Prenatal massages a year, and I have yet to get a complaint of a smushed baby. It is important to note, some Mother's can't get over the mental feeling of "smushing their baby" so I also provide side lying for those women who prefer this position.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is truly meeting and connecting with new moms and those on their second plus pregnancies. I love sharing what I've learned through giving birth, having a miscarriage myself, and most importantly learning from other mothers. I feel like I have built a community of women who really care about receiving the best care during and after pregnancy for themselves and their families.
Not all women have easy or hard pregnancies, but the connection is unreal. Sharing in women's happiness and disappointment, and sharing my own experiences has made me a stronger and more loving person. We have created a place of safe, non-judgmental unity that I carry into my own life.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey, and allowing me to share mine as well. I don't really like my career, I love it, and the women and families I serve.