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Meet Your Birth Professional: Kate White of Belvedere Healing Arts

By Kelly on September 24, 2014 in Meet Your Birth Professional with No Comments

Kate White, Belvedere Healing Arts. Her baby massage classes are offered the last Friday of each month, at , 12:30-1:30 pm

bend is a great place to connect with others for support during the childbearing year, and I am very grateful to be able to offer baby massage classes there.  The one hour class offers handouts on nonverbal cues so that parents can read their babies and understand what they are saying in their own way.  A baby’s nervous system goes 8-10 times slower than an adult, and so the first order of business when learning to massage your baby is to slow down.  I cue moms and dads to bring their awareness into their legs and put their hands and just rest for moment, still, for a “check in.”  Then, after talking with the baby about receiving a massage, parents and caregivers are taught the strokes for the legs, arms, stomach, chest, head, face and back.  I teach how to select oils, and what babies are “saying” as they receive their massage.

While many parents know a lot about massage for their babies, it is often just nice to have someone show you a few things.  For example, babies have subtle cues that tell you what you are doing is too much.  The most subtle cues that cluster together to tell parents to slow down are when the baby looks away, sneezes and coughs.  Understanding these subtle cues, and ones that mean “I like this,” will help the baby feel seen, heard and understood, some of the most important imprints for early development.

With each class, I hand out articles and a description of how to give a massage for your baby.  The articles talk about good environments for baby massage, and all the benefits for baby and parents.  One of the papers I always include is how to soothe a sensitive baby.  We have discovered that one in five people is or more easily overwhelmed. This can be very confusing for the parents because they will see other babies able to be out in public more, cry less, and generally be more resilient.  Often parents will seek me out to help learn to soothe their baby.  Sometimes these babies had more difficult births, or the parents had overwhelming experiences with the pregnancy, or the mom and baby were separated after birth for a medical reason.  Stress and often, pain, are part of a sensitive baby’s experience.  Loving touch and presence helps these babies immensely.  I teach parents skills to help settle these babies.  Often is more than swaddle and sway; it is really understanding the baby’s story.  Once a baby feels heard and seen they can relax.  Adults are the same way.  Sensitive bodywork is excellent for moms, dads, and caregivers who have had difficult births.

Supporting moms and babies is one of my biggest passions.  My journey of working with mom and baby pairs started 15 years ago, soon after I had my first baby.  I was working with a woman who had been referred to me for massage and craniosacral therapy.  One of my intake questions had to do with her own birth experience because our work with the cranium can reveal early patterns related to birth.  She told me that she thought her lifelong depression was associated with her difficult breech birth, and she wanted to heal it and she wanted to heal it with me.  I had never heard that people could remember birth.  That experience sparked a career of wanting to know so much more about the baby’s experience, and it opened the door to prenatal and perinatal psychology and health.  This awareness that babies remember birth, and even their prenatal experience, was coupled with my work with mothers and infant massage to create the practice that I have today.

We have come a long way in understanding human development.  The core body of knowledge in prenatal and perinatal health includes several important notions: babies are aware and understand more than you think; they feel pain and have a body memory of their experiences; and humans develop in relationship with their caregivers and family, so the family itself can been seen and felt as co-creator in the baby’s health and well-being.  Science now proves through epigenetics and interpersonal neurobiology that these early experiences can have lifelong implications.

So come down to bend and learn to massage your baby.  I like to end each class with giving parents a sense of support.  Having layers of support is part of biological blue print: each baby has this experience in the womb.  The inside baby is supported by the mother, who is supported by a partner, father, or caregiver.  Our community is empowered to help care for newborn families, and bend plays an important function as a second layer of care for our families with babies and children.

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