Watsu® During Pregnancy
Let yourself be immersed in warm water, quite like your baby inside your womb.
Weightlessly supported by the buoyancy of the water, gently swayed and attentively stretched by a caring and therapeutic touch to help melt into the water tensions, worries, and pains you may be experiencing.
As your body becomes freer, movements become more and more wave-like.
Taking time for yourself and the new life growing inside you, you may enter a whole new realm of connection with your unborn child.
A unique experience and a precious gift to be had while pregnant.
The multi-dimensionality of the warm water and the lack of gravity allows so many more movements, positions, and stretches than those available on land, promoting a feeling of weightlessness and relief.
No wonder that on top of the vast benefits for many clients, there is a breadth of meaningful physical and mental treasures for both the pregnant parent and their unborn child of receiving Watsu® sessions while pregnant.
What is Watsu®?
Watsu® is a passive form of aquatic therapy, meaning you are not required to be an active participant (such as in hydrotherapy, or some types of massage), and instead are invited to let go and to let your body surrender and unwind, to be soothed, and to feel free.
Developed in the early 1980s, Watsu® has become known as the world’s first form of aquatic bodywork and has since played a major role in the development of other forms of aquatic bodywork techniques, many of which are now offered by professionals in various settings worldwide, including rehabilitations centres, spas, wellness centres, and aquatic therapy clinics.
Watsu® sessions are conducted in chest level warm water by a skilled therapist who will gently float, cradle, move, stretch, sway, and massage you, inducing relaxation, healing and a natural sense of wellbeing.
What does a Watsu® session look like?
The therapist will discuss your situation and individual needs before commencing the session to ensure they can tailor it especially to you, taking into account what’s important.
They will brief you about the session, and welcome you to ask any questions.
Depending on your specific needs, your therapist may use floats on your body.
They will welcome you into the water.
When you are ready, they will hold your hands and invite you to close your eyes. They will then guide you into a floating position on your back, support your head and lower back gently; yet in a way in which you will not have to do anything yourself.
The therapist will then begin your unique therapy session which will include sequences and moments of movement as well as stillness, as applied by them according to your needs.
The session usually ends with your eyes still closed, your back safely docked next to the pool wall, your feet landed on the floor, and the therapist moving to the side at a safe distance to allow you to open your eyes when you’re ready to “awaken”.
Clients are not expected to share their reflections, feelings, sensations, or thoughts after their sessions.
Sometimes we can enjoy the lingering effects in silence, sometimes it’s personal and we wish to keep things to ourselves, and other times we can’t wait to share our experience with others or the therapist.
When clients choose to verbally express their experience, a recurring feeling for many seems to be a feeling or sensation of going back to earlier times, or even that of being cradled in a womb.
Click here to read what clients shared about their Watsu® experience...
“Is Watsu® similar to a floatation tank?”
Although floatation is key to Watsu® sessions, it is nothing like floating in a tank.
While you are invited to close your eyes, Watsu® is often performed in spacious warm water where there is lots of air flow and where sequences of movements can be conducted by a professional therapist.
The therapist does all the work for you, making sure your face is always above the water while your body is comfortably submerged in the warm water, allowing your body and mind to let go completely.
They apply their professional knowledge of water-based massage principles, while paying careful attention to your unspoken physical and emotional needs that unfold during such a profound experience.
What are the benefits of receiving Watsu® sessions during the second and third trimester of pregnancy?
Your baby experiences everything that you experience.
This is why paying attention to all factors of the pregnant parent’s wellbeing are important.
Not only because pregnancy can present extra challenges to a person's life both during pregnancy as well as post birth, but also because their emotional, mental, and physical experiences can transfer to the baby.
This in turn may affect the development and wellbeing of the foetus while in utero, which in turn can have implications for them postnatally and throughout their lifespan.
The wonderful bonding opportunity…
Forming a bond and making a connection with your baby can present positive effects on mental, emotional and physical health for both yourself and your baby.
What better time to start connecting than while you’re pregnant? 😊
Strengthening the parent-child bond during swim lessons:
At around 18 weeks your baby begins to hear the sounds of your body, like your heart rate and your stomach rumbling. They gradually develop responsiveness to movements. This is why for example they often go to sleep while you are awake, as movements rock them to sleep.
At around 22 weeks your baby’s nervous system is developed and they can feel pleasure, joy and pain. They can open their eyes and see light.
At around 26 weeks they can react to touch, such as a hand rubbing the pregnant parent's belly. They can also react to sounds (both inside and outside of the womb), and can be soothed by their parent's voice.
At around 32 weeks your baby can start to recognise vowels in your language, and can remember certain sounds, music, and your voice.
What exciting possibilities for bonding this presents!
Among the many things you could do to foster a positive bond (eg: talking or singing to your baby, responding to their kicks, gently touching and rubbing your belly), giving yourself and your baby Watsu® treatments has a whole range of possibilities.
Gentle touch… by a caring practitioner, your hands, the water…
Soothing movements… the swooshing of water, the spatial feeling in this 360-degree environment, the stretching and swaying…
The alleviation of pain and worries… with an attentive massage, the support of the water, a feeling of weightlessness, where stress and fear melt away and are replaced with a sense of connectedness, trust, and confidence in your body.
Eyes closed… this is your time. Drift into another state of consciousness and body sensations.
Peaceful sounds… of water swooshing, the sighs of relief, the sound of the breaths.
Calming warmth... of the warm water wrapping your body softly.
Comforting sound and feeling... of a slower heart rate and a quiet space.
The physical relief and uplifted emotions... of the oxytocin hormones being released and serotonin being balanced.
Your baby will learn the soothing qualities of water, gentle touch, breathing, connection, love and trust.
You will both experience a greater sense of wellness.
Watsu® post birth can also be beneficial.
If you like the sound of Watsu® therapy and what it can do to help you and your baby while you’re pregnant, you might also appreciate that there are many potential benefits to be gained by having Watsu® postpartum, when your body is ready.
Everyone’s birth journey and postpartum recovery experience are different. Make sure to consult with your doctor, as well as the therapist, to check when the right time for you to have Watsu® is.
And what about Watsu® for babies once they are born?
One study found that water therapy or activity can significantly improve the development of preterm babies. Read the article here...
Benefits that may be present following Watsu® sessions:
Decreased anxiety and stress
Decreased physical pain (eg. back aches, leg cramps, swelling/enema, etc..)
Relaxed hypertonic muscles including those of the uterus
For those closer to due date: promotes flexibility of pelvis, support labour, and can help with aligning of the baby in the ideal position for birth.
Relives emotional stress and fears
Promotes deep relaxation for the pregnant parent and their baby
Promotes connection and bonding, and deepens the relationship between the pregnant parent and the unborn child
Improves sense of wellbeing
Strengthened immune system response
Improved sleep patterns
Stimulated blood circulation and oxygen flow
Increased range of motion and flexibility
Improved soft tissue mobility
Increased depth of respiration/breathing – more oxygen in each breath
Decrease in heart and respiration rates
Balanced nervous system - decreased sympathetic response and supports parasympathetic response
Enhanced functioning of the lymphatic system
Decreased muscle spasm/spasticity
Helps coping with trauma
Decreased rate of postnatal depression
Improved healing post birth
Stretches buttocks, thighs, & quadriceps
Stretches groin area
Promotes a feeling of weightlessness
An opportunity for gentle touch for both yourself and your unborn baby
For a list of accredited Watsu® therapists in Australia and Worldwide please visit the official organisation website: www.watsu.com
Or CONTACT US to arrange your sessions with Anat Juran in Perth, Western Australia.
Read Anat's personal testimony about what led her to becoming a Watsu therapist and instructor in: “My Watsu Journey”... Read here.