CLOSING THE BONES

Closing the Bones is an oil massage of the abdomen and uses fabric (a mexican scarf called a Robozo) to rock, bind and close the pelvis. It is a traditional ritual used in Ecuador and other parts of Central and South America after women have given birth to support their postnatal recovery. As well as many benefits physically, it is felt that there is also a spiritual aspect to the massage, it provides the mother space to feel nurtured and release emotions associated with the birth and motherhood. The ritual can be considerably powerful in helping to release birth emotions, even many years after the birth itself.

TAILOR MADE TO SUIT YOU

  • Closing the Bones can be done privately just you and I (your baby could be looked after by someone else or present with you during the massage)

  • It could be performed by myself and another practitioner for more of a ceremonial experience yet still feel private

  • Or it can be very powerful to have it as a ceremony with a close circle of woman friends and family around you. It can be a powerful way for friends and family to acknowledge the transition you are going through and invite them in to celebrate and support you

I will come to your home or venue of your choice and bring all thats needed to get the space ready with mattress on the floor, candles an essential oil defuser, music if you would like. All I ask is the room is quiet, private nice and warm for you to enjoy!

The format and price is slightly different depending on how you choose to have Closing the Bones.

Just with me £60 1.5 hours
We will chat beforehand to see what you are hoping to get from the massage and if there is anything to do with your birthing experience or motherhood that feels relevant to share before we start. I will then use the Robozo to rock your pelvis, do an abdominal massage with essential oils, rock your pelvis some more and then bind it. Once your pelvis is wrapped I can do all, some or one of the following; sing to you, lead you into a meditation, read a poem, or simply sit with you with my hands holding you. 

With myself and another local practitioner £100 1.5 hours

We will chat beforehand to see what you are hoping to get from the massage and if there is anything to do with your birthing experience or motherhood that feels relevant to share before we start. I will then use the Robozo to rock your pelvis, do an abdominal massage with essential oils, rock your pelvis some more and then bind it. All the while the other person will gently be beside you offering some soothing touch. Once we are at the binding stage, we will wrap your pelvis and if you like we will bind and wrap your whole body - many women find this deeply comforting and a lovely experience. Once your pelvis or all of your body is wrapped, while you lay there we will lead you through a meditation, sing to you, hold you, read a poem, use singing bowls/drums as a way to mark your right of passage as a mother. 


Myself leading a ceremony for your women friends and family to attend (4 -12 people). £150 2 hours

I will hold the space as a ceremony allowing your friends and family a chance to share their love and support for you as well as honour your journey and transition into and through motherhood. This is a space to invite your loved ones in and if need be a place to release any emotions or trauma from your birthing experience or postnatal period and move forward as an empowered and supported mother. I will meet with your friends and family first to share a song with them and let them know how they can be present. You will then join. We will have a circle to share everyones blessings, then begin the massage, at the time of wrapping, your loved ones will take part here. We will then sing together, share a poem, meditation and have hands holding you. To finish we will go round the group with some words of more love and support and then close. You may also like your friends to each bring a dish and then you can feast afterwards!

I have studied with Sophie Messager to learn Closing the Bones, here is some words from her about the massage:

"Most cultures around the world have an innate understanding of the vulnerability of a new mother and the need for her to be cared for and nurtured to recover from growing and birthing her baby. Many of the postpartum traditions include nourishing foods and a period of confinement, and some kind of bodywork technique, ranging from massage, to binding with a cloth, helping the new mother regain her strength and energy. These practises seem so global and multicultural. Surely there is some wisdom in them, so why have we forgotten them?

Europe used to have them too, but sadly, because these traditions were passed orally, they got lost within a few generations. So today if we want to reclaim this traditions, we have to re-learn these techniques from more traditional cultures around the world. Closing the bones is such a technique.

I learnt closing the bones, together with local doula Maddie McMahon, from Dr Rocio Alarcon, an ethnobotanist and Shaman from Ecuador, at a doula retreat in North Wales in 2013. Rocio learnt it from her mother, her grandmother and traditional shamans from the Ecuadorian rainforest. 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 traditional cultures, the 40 days of the postnatal period represent a sacred time. 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 (it may also help with milk supply/lochia), moves hormones, stimulates the immune system, and helps tone muscles and tissues. According to Rocio, our hips also support the weight of the spine and head and they are therefore the seat of unresolved emotions and trauma, which can be felt upon the hips as crystals, that need to be popped and released during the massage.

The closing the bones treatment involves the use of a traditional shawl called a Manta (also known as a rebozo in Mexico) to rock and articulate the mother's hips, followed by a complex abdominal and pelvic girdle massage using a warming oil, and then finished by tightly wrapping the cloth around the woman's hips. When Rocio taught us, she stressed the importance of passing on this skill, so that it doesn't become lost. So Maddie and I started offering the massage to our clients, and sharing the knowledge with other doulas. We did a few sharing days, wrote an article about it for doulaing magazine, and this obviously resonated a lot with birthworkers because people started asking us to teach them. So we got together and designed a workshop and have been teaching it since 2014. We are delighted to be helping to keep this tradition alive, and we have trained over 150 birthworkers and therapists in this technique. Our hope is that one day enough women around the country will have heard of this lovely and important ritual and expect to receive it after birth.

Being a scientist by training, whilst the traditional aspect appealed to me, something in me needed the technique to be validated by some kind of 'modern' standard. I was lucky to be able to gain extra validation of the technique after practising the technique on Cambridge osteopath Teddy Brookes. Teddy was able to validated the effectiveness and gentleness of the closing the bones massage on various joints and organs, which was very reassuring and satisfying for me. Teddy's comments have been added to the handout we give to people attending our workshop.

Beyond the physical aspect of closing the bones, there is also a spiritual aspect to the treatment, which provides a safe space/ritual for the mother to feel nurtured and release emotions associated with the birth and motherhood. Having experienced receiving the massage ourselves and given it to many new and not so new mothers, we have both experienced and witnessed how powerful this ritual can be in releasing emotions in a safe way, even many years after the birth itself."

©2019 by DoulaD