Weekend Highlights

Published April 4, 2013
Health & Development

Moms Can Get a Pampering at Swedish/Issaquah

by Sarah Erickson
seattle child article photo
Photo courtesy of Swedish Hospital.

It’s said that a happy mom equals a happy baby, and if that’s true, Natalie Kozimor and her newborn are off to a great start. The evening after giving birth at Swedish/Issaquah Childbirth Center, first-time mother Kozimor received a foot massage and relaxed into sleep. The lights of the postpartum suite were dimmed, soft music and a rejuvenating scent of eucalyptus floated in the air, while nearby, a family visitor cuddled the new baby. 

Earlier that day Kozimor’s boss had surprised her with the massage as a gift. 

“I was more than willing to accept,” recalls Kozimor. “Having a professional pamper my feet was just what I needed at the end of the most labor-intensive day of my life. It allowed me to have just the right amount of calm before my first full night with a new baby. I was able to get centered and release some of the intensity of the day.” 

As part of their efforts to help families’ transition to the postpartum period, the Childbirth Center at Swedish/Issaquah became the first hospital in Washington state to partner with Bavia, an in-room hospital service specializing in massage for new mothers. Patients can choose from several packages including full-body therapy, couple’s massage and targeted bodywork like the “Feet of Accomplishment” option enjoyed by Kozimor. 

Bavia massage therapist Angela Tessier explains, “We come to the client, in the hospital or at home. Because of this, when the massage is over, we leave and she can stay sleeping in her bed.” 

Postpartum massage has many practical benefits, says Wendy Colgan, nurse manager of Obstetrics and Pediatrics at Swedish/Issaquah. 

“Most parents prepare extensively for the birth of their baby. They attend childbirth preparation classes, talk to family and friends, and develop comprehensive birth plans,” Colgan says. “However, few focus on the immediate postpartum period and all of the associated challenges like breastfeeding difficulties, hormonal changes and sleep deprivation, just to name a few. 

“I think parents who utilize Bavia's services will find that they are better able to absorb all of the information that is given to them during their postpartum hospital stay,” she adds. “Moms who have less anxiety and pain in the postpartum period are able to rest better and can even have an improved lactation experience.” 

Tina Dos Santos, a Seattle-based doula and cranial-sacral massage therapist, additionally finds that massage helps heal women’s sense of their bodies as integrated wholes. 

“Massage benefits new mothers by helping them to actually feel connected to their bodies, that they’re not just pieces,” Dos Santos explains. “During pregnancy women can become focused on all of these changes happening – my belly, my breasts, my hips are hurting me. There’s a disconnect, and again after giving birth there may be pain in the vaginal area, there’s breastfeeding, and the belly’s going down. But when you’re on a massage table, you’re connecting hip to feet. The sensation of touch brings back internal awareness – ‘Oh yeah, there are my feet!’ – making women feel whole again.” 

Colgan connects the restorative capacity of massage to the mission of the Swedish/Issaquah Birthing Center, which opened in late 2011. 

The Issaquah facility, says Colgan, was “very thoughtfully designed to create a welcoming, noninstitutional feel, so that patients and their families would feel less scared when they need medical services. Bavia's services are just an extension of what Swedish/Issaquah is all about: wellness and healing.”

That mission continues to unfold. In the coming year, the Childbirth Center will open a Level II nursery for babies 34 weeks or older who require higher levels of care, such as oxygen or IV support due to prematurity or illness.

A more robust midwifery service will begin performing hospital-based birth in affiliation with the OB/GYNs in Swedish Medical Group, and a comprehensive postpartum follow-up program for new parents is in development with services including outpatient lactation services, jaundice checks and new parent classes. 

“These services are meant to act as a bridge for the time period when parents go home from the hospital until they follow up with their physician,” said Colgan.

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