No one can begrudge a pregnant woman the lament, “Oh, my aching back!” Add to that
a full-time job, school and/or other children at home, and the modern expectant mother often finds herself in desperate need of tender loving care and serious physical attention.
Students in Michelle Willenbring’s Pregnancy/Special Populations massage class recognized that not all expectant mothers have the resources or knowledge they need to receive help for the extra stressors that pregnancy brings. That’s why Bobbi Pajari, Jason Weber and Alysia Mick decided to research, prepare and deliver a prenatal massage seminar as a service learning project aimed at the special needs of the expectant mother.
Students wrote lesson plans and sent out personal invitations to the public. Volunteers were then each paired with a student who became that participant’s teacher, guide and massage therapist. The volunteers were at different stages of their pregnancies and each had unique histories.
Each volunteer received a massage at the beginning of the session and then studied one-on-one with a student therapist to understand the benefits of prenatal (and postnatal) massage, as well as infant massage; coping mechanisms for discomfort at home, morning sickness, sleeplessness and stress. They also learned nutrition and safe exercise tips. In addition, students demonstrated infant massage (on dolls) and taught the volunteers how to replicate the movements on their own babies.
Ana Ribiero1 has friends who had prenatal massages during their pregnancies, and so she was curious about the experience.
“It was very relaxing and enjoyable,” she said. “I can’t wait for the next one!” She added that the student therapist was very knowledgeable and professional.
Pajari said that she gained confidence from the experience when she realized her client learned something. Walker agreed, saying that all the volunteers seemed appreciative and that his expecting student even took notes.
Mick commented that the real-world application of her service learning hit very close to home when she recently had her sister visit for a massage. When her sister asked what she’d been doing at school, Mick told her about the pregnancy service learning seminar. Her sister then said, “Well, that’s good because I need prenatal.” It was the first Mick knew that her sister was pregnant!
Walker summed up the project by saying, “You get a good feeling of really helping
All the student therapists felt confident that their volunteers left with a favorable experience: every participant signed up for her next massage.
1Ana Ribiero was a volunteer for this project and also teaches Health Fitness as an
adjunct instructor at MSB. She has scheduled her next three massages! She is
expecting her first child.