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Local Mom Spotlight: Eileen Monaghan

I don’t know about you, but when I’m pregnant, my favorite person to see is my prenatal massage therapist (and the lady at the Chick-Fil-A drive thru window handing me my spicy chicken sandwich with extra pickles, but that’s a different story!)

Massage therapists are able to work absolute wonders, and I always leave feeling not as miserably pregnant as I did when I walked in.

So I was excited when one of these miracle workers agreed to do our Local Mom Spotlight!

On top of being a mother to a two year old girl, Eileen Monaghan runs Hampton Roads Prenatal Massage.

Here’s what she had to say about running a business and being a mom!

Hampton Roads Prenatal Massage

1.)  When did you start Hampton Roads Prenatal Massage?

I actually just separated my businesses this year to market specifically to Pregnant and Postpartum women but I’ve been a Massage Therapist since 2005.  My original business is WholeBody Massage Therapy and I still use that name as well.  I market to pregnant and postpartum women but I will work with anybody needing a massage.

2.) How did you get into prenatal massage? 

I was very nervous working on pregnant women when I graduated from Massage School and tried to avoid them at all costs.  Then one of my regulars, who was a triathlete and came to see me every 2 weeks, got pregnant.  I had to get confident quickly.  It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened because I realized how much I loved working with pregnant women.

3.) What benefits do prenatal mamas get from massage? 

There are a few researched benefits for prenatal massage.  A decrease in depression, stress and anxiety, relief from hip and low back pain and decreased swelling in the legs and feet.  There is also evidence of shortened first stages of labor and the pain that goes along with it.  Most women also note that they have better sleep after receiving a massage.  I also use Reflexology to help with other pregnancy symptoms like constipation and sciatic pain.

4.) At what stage in the pregnancy is a massage the most beneficial?

Any stage of pregnancy is a great time for massage!  First trimester can be stressful so receiving massages during this time can help reduce stress so you sleep better (it is completely safe).  Some women even find, as their breasts start to grow, that their upper backs get tense so that can be addressed.  The third trimester is when I see women the most.  The aches and pains are getting more intense.  They are usually having trouble sleeping.  Labor isn’t too far away and the anticipation and nervousness are at an all-time high (especially for first time moms).  The lower body work I do can be very helpful in preparing the hips for the labor process and Reflexology just feels so good at that time because of swelling in the lower legs.

5.)  Can a massage really help jump start the labor process?

This is a common misconception.  Baby is going to come when he/she is ready.  Massage is GREAT around that time because it’s all about relaxation.  If you are relaxed then baby will come.  Hip and low back work can reduce stiffness and tension which will make it easier for you to relax.  I have had clients come in on their “due date” and go into labor that night.  I’ve had clients come in on their “due date” and go into labor a few days or a week later.  Massage may just be the spark that the body needs but it is because you are completely relaxed.  There are pressure points that are considered “labor buttons” but acupressure and acupuncture are not meant to be spontaneous and work over a period of time.

6.)  Have you ever had someone go into labor during a massage?

I have only worked on a woman who was in the first stage of labor.  I was teaching a prenatal class and we have pregnant women come in as practice bodies.  She was having contractions but they were far apart.  She was gracious enough to allow myself and my students to touch her belly and watch the baby moving around.  It was an amazing experience.

7.) Now on top of offering massages, you teach workshops massage techniques for expectant couples.  Are there any massage techniques that can help ease contractions?

Massage is wonderful to do during labor.  Most of the research on pregnancy massage is conducted during the labor process and it has shown that women experience shorter labor in the first stage and less pain throughout.  When less pain is present, women tend to relax and they don’t look to medical interventions as much (pain-killers, epidurals etc.)  Reflexology is a great technique during this time.  It is non-invasive, and the thousands of nerve endings in the feet travel all over the body so there is no need to work anywhere else.  Low back and hip massage can also be helpful because the stimuli from the manual pressure can distract the woman from the pain she is experiencing.

8.) How often do you recommend an expectant mama go in for a massage?

I really suggest once a month at the least.  I find most of my clients start to come in more often as their due date approaches.  Once or twice a month is great.  Once a week during the last few weeks of pregnancy can be very beneficial in preparing for the labor process.

9.) What are the benefits of reflexology in pregnancy?

I LOVE Reflexology!  This technique can relax you on a whole other level.  My clients are blown away at how they feel after a session.  There is a reflex point on the feet for every organ and body part.  Manipulating these reflex points can have a positive effect on that organ or body part.  Pregnancy symptoms like constipation, sciatic pain, back and shoulder pain and even hip pain can be alleviated with reflexology.  Most women fall asleep during that part of the massage and wake up feeling refreshed, even if it was only 10-15 minutes!

10.) Now obviously postnatal mamas need a chance to relax too!  Other than some quiet time, what benefits does one get from a postnatal massage?

There are great reasons to continue receiving massage postpartum.  Healing from labor can be tough.  Reflexology can help stimulate the body’s return to normal energy and hormone levels.  Massage can help reduce residual back and hip pain.  Massage can also help the body acclimate to the new activities Mom is doing.  Car seats are not easy to maneuver.  We wind up contorting our own bodies so baby is comfortable.  Breastfeeding and holding the baby can be hard on the body.  If you already have little ones, adding another can be difficult. Massage can help you get the relaxation and pain relief you need to be completely present for all your little ones.  Massage can start as soon as you are ready.  If you had a cesarean section, we would need the ok from your doctor first.

On Being a Mom

11.)  As a mom, who or what inspires you?

My daughter is amazing.  She is 2 and she inspires me every day to be better.  I decided to go out on my own after I had her.  I worked at a very popular school in Virginia Beach and it was comfortable but I wasn’t happy.  I wanted to start a prenatal massage business for years but was too afraid to take the leap.  When she was born, all I thought about was wanting to be better for her.  To fight for what I want.  To not be afraid to try new things.  She inspired me to take the leap and I am so happy that I did.

12.) Favorite kid snack that you secretly enjoy?

I’m not sure of the name but I call them cheesy poofs…they are SO good!

13.)  What is your favorite show to binge watch?

I am so obsessed with The Office.  I watched it so often during my pregnancy that I swear my daughter came out knowing the theme song.

14.)  As a toddler mama, what is your must have item when you go out? 

I know it is about to go away but I always have a pacifier.  Other than that, I always have a drink and a snack ready for her.

15.)  And finally, we’ve talked about how you help other mamas relax but how do you relax? 

I love to read, watch movies and find new, locally-owned restaurants.  This might sound like baloney but giving massages.  It is not only relaxing for my clients but it is quiet time and relaxing for me as well.

Thank Eileen for answering our questions!  Do you know a local mom or business deserving of the Local Mom Spotlight?  E-mail us at hrvamoms@gmail.com

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