Since starting down this road to a more natural way of improving my overall (and hopefully reproductive) health, I’ve incorporated dietary changes, specific supplements, home care techniques like femoral massage, Chinese herbs, and acupuncture.
It’s only been three weeks with the herbs and acu-treatments, and about two months with the diet and lifestyle changes. So far, so good!
While reading The Infertility Cure, and doing some research on natural ways to help improve fertility, I came across a handful of articles on Maya Abdominal Massage, or Arvigo Massage.
The premise sounded interesting, and complementary with the TCM route I’m already on: The techniques work to restore the body to its natural balance by correcting the position of organs that have shifted and restrict the flow of blood, lymph, nerve and chi energy.
After reading more and researching practitioners in the US, I found that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of them in the Midwest; however, there is one right here in the Toledo suburbs! Score!
I checked out the massage studio’s website and did a little review check on the practitioner, and once I was satisfied that I wasn’t going to be seeing a quack, I made an appointment.
By the way… I made this appointment almost a month ago. It turns out, should you also decide to book an abdominal massage, that reputable therapists recommend having ab massage done right about the time your period ends. They don’t want to massage too close to ovulation, too close to the first couple days of your cycle, or at all in the luteal phase.
Makes sense. No problems there. Appointment made.
I should note that I was sure to run this idea by Dr. McStabby, because his treatments are my top priority and I don’t want to disrupt anything he’s doing with some whimsical South American belly rub. He said that in his opinion, anything that increases the blood flow to the abdomen in my case is a good thing. He wanted to be sure the massage would only be done pre-ovulation, about which I assured him that it would.
The only word of warning I received from the acu-doc was that I may not like someone massaging my abdominal region. At first I thought he meant that I wouldn’t like the way it felt physically, which I admit was a concern, but he meant something different. He told me that many times, women tend to push their stress, anxiety, anger, and emotions down into the abdominal region, which is why we see IBS so much more in women than in men.
He said that men tend to only push emotion down to their heart, which is why we see outbursts of temper, fighting, and heart attacks more with men, and IBS, nausea, and nervous diarrhea more with women.
Acu-doc also said sometimes with abdominal massage, the manipulation of that area can cause some of those emotions to become… dislodged, causing a surge of feeling that might come unexpectedly.
Now that struck me as odd, especially as a girl who is so NOT a crier… but I still went ahead with the appointment.
Okay, so onto the actual appointment day…
I showed up to meet the therapist in my work clothes (because I’d just come from the office), but had brought a bag of other things like sweat pants and a tank top. I wasn’t sure how much I would be wearing or not wearing, considering the very different clothing requirements for a traditional relaxation massage where I’m almost totally nude, and my acu-treatments, for which I am fully clothed in comfy lounge-wear.
As it turned out, the therapist and I met for a bit before the massage started. We went over the pile of paperwork I’d done, the questions oddly similar to those asked by the acu-doc. She asked me specifics about my diet and digestion, and asked me for details on my miscarriage, which I provided.
After that, she left me alone to get undressed – the clothing requirements are exactly the same as a relaxation massage – and climb into a soft, heated massage table-slash-bed. Very cozy.
Once she came back into the room, I was made to feel very comfortable; the therapist said that this was the start of a relationship between her and I, and that I should not feel any anxiety in asking to be more comfortable within the studio. I was in control of the lighting, music volume, and temperature, and could ask for extra blankets or anything I needed to relax.
She also said that I could talk, fall asleep, or ask as many questions as I liked… which is nice, because I ask a lot of questions.
After we had talked a bit, she placed some heavy towels over my chest and shoulders, and over my abdomen, after which she pulled the bed sheets down to expose my belly, but nothing else. Before she did anything, she used her hands to feel for any hot or cool spots in my abdomen, saying that she can sometimes feel where trouble areas might be.
Once she started the massage, it was very gentle. She felt around for the locations of my different organs, pointing out where my anatomy was to me. I liked knowing where things are… It’s very different from your high school anatomy class when it’s your own body!
She asked me some really spot-on questions, too! She asked if anyone ever told me I had a tilted uterus, and I said YES. She said that not only is it tilted backwards, but it’s also tipped to one side, causing one of my ovaries to be sort of out of place as well. This coincides exactly with what every ultrasound tech who’s ever wanded me has said!
Again, very interesting!
She said a lot of her focus would be on bringing my uterus back to where it needs to be. She said that having organs out of place can absolutely cause blood flow and circulation issues, so once this is corrected, overall circulation in the body will improve as well. She did say that femoral massage, and acupuncture and herbs will be a big help in this as well.
So far, so good. I didn’t mind the feeling of someone massaging my abdomen, and it was actually a bit relaxing once I got past asking a thousand questions.
Some parts were weird, though. The therapist kept referring to my uterus as a “she”, and telling me that I could talk to “her” and tell her that I am trying to conceive, and that “she” would listen… Uhh… okay, lady.
She also did this weird rocking motion, sort of rocking my whole abdominal region, and said that it was actually the pulse of my body trying to “unwind” some areas that were all wound up… Again… very weird.
She also asked me more about my miscarriage – how long ago it happened, how many weeks pregnant was I, the details of the actual miscarriage, did I have a d&c, etc… She said she could tell that I need to make peace with the loss, and she did this weird thing where she put one hand above, and one below my belly button and sort of pressed down gently.
She said she felt like the baby was a girl… and I said, so did I.
Of course it was too early to really know, but that was always my feeling. At that point, I cried, even though I am NOT a crier. AT ALL. But maybe she was right about needing to make peace…
She did confirm what the AP said about women holding emotion in their digestive region. Funny, because every time I am super stressed or nervous, I have terrible diarrhea, nausea, and most of the time, vomiting. I lost 10lbs before my wedding, completely because of the stress of it, and I spent the morning of my wedding day running to the bathroom.
Maybe there’s something to that theory…
After that part, she went into a more thorough exploration of my whole abdominal area. She felt around the bottom of my rib cage, along my sides, and down as far as my pubic bone, taking stock of the locations of organs.
Another interesting thing: while she was massaging, she said she felt a few little bubbles pop, like bubble wrap, that she was sure were adhesions. I told her I’d always wondered if I had endometriosis, and she said that I might, but that she felt that she had broken up at least 3 decent sized adhesions with the massage.
Part of me doubts this is possible, but then again, who knows…?
Once it was almost over, she said that she felt I’d made great progress, and that my uterus had shifted a lot and felt like it wanted to move back to its natural location. She also said that my next AF may be a bit strange, maybe with more or fewer clots, or maybe some discharge that looks like coffee grounds. Apparently that’s completely normal, and just the body’s way of “cleaning house” and preparing for a healthy new start.
Just before she left the room, she taught me some self-care techniques to use at home. One was a way of breathing from the belly instead of the lungs, which I’m having a hard time mastering. Another is a way to keep better posture in mind throughout the day, so as not to compress the organs and give them room to do their thing.
She talked to me about water intake and said that the naturopathic way is to take in half your body weight in ounces each day; so if you weigh 150lbs, you should be drinking 75oz of water each day. She also said that chugging water won’t do you any good unless you really like to pee. The best way, apparently, is to take 5 or 6 glugs every half hour or so throughout the whole day.
She also taught me some self-massage techniques: one is just a very simple circular massage starting around the belly button and getting wider over the whole abdominal area. The other is a sort of “scooping” motion that starts right above the pubic bone and is said to help encourage the uterus to come back into position. That second one is not to be practiced after ovulation.
After that, she brought me some water and a peppermint patty (yay!) and left me to get dressed.
I have to say, I felt pretty good after the massage. Loose and less tense, in the way that you feel after a relaxation massage, only it wasn’t my shoulders… it was my abdomen.
Some of it was a little strange (okay, some of it was really strange), but I think you have to take the weird with a grain of salt. It was more good than weird, and I really liked the therapist. She was very warm and pleasant, and although I have a hard time wrapping my head around some of what she said, I do think it will be beneficial to keep seeing her.
She recommends once-a-month treatment for at least 3 months to see a real difference, and the cost was only a tiny bit higher than I’d pay for a relaxation massage, so I’m going to keep with it.
Will this help me conceive?
I have no idea.
Will it maybe help me to relax a little, encourage blood flow to my pelvic region, and make me feel like I’m actively contributing my own health and healing?
It might be a little weird, but I’m giving it a shot.
Like the acu-doc said: If you feel like it’s doing you some good, then it probably is!
If you have any questions about my experience with Maya Abdominal Massage, please feel free to comment below, or email me directly, and I would be happy to help as best I can!