We ask health and wellness professionals the same six questions we always ask. This week, TWO DOULAS talks to massage therapist Julie Norman.
Julie Norman has been working as a massage therapist since 2004. She is a member of the A.M.Q. (Association des Massothérapeutes du Québec) and her studio is located in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood. She is a mother of two, an avid theatre-goer and she plays the drums and cello (though not very often and not at the same time).
How would you describe your job in just one sentence?
My job is to touch with technique and consciousness.
What made you want to be a massage therapist?
A friend of mine told me all about the massage course he was taking at a time when my TV career was no longer thrilling me. The massage idea struck a chord, so I enrolled and have not looked back since.
How can new or expectant parents benefit from your services?
There are many benefits to massage and to conscious touch in general. I could go on forever about this, but it boils down to relaxation, diminished stress, alleviation of the aches and pains associated with pregnancy, helping with digestion, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, circulation … It is all good news! A good massage can also bring you back to yourself if you are feeling a bit lost. This can often happen to overwhelmed new parents.
What happens at your first meeting with a new or expectant parent?
I allow a few extra minutes at the beginning of the first session to discuss the pregnancy, general health, comfort and to decide which pillow configuration to start with. As is standard, I make sure there are no contraindications to massage. Our first contact might also be by email or over the phone, so usually we have some idea about each other prior to the first session.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your field?
Here in Montreal, I find that people are pretty well educated with regards to massage. There does seem to be confusion regarding whether or not to tip a massage therapist. I would say that if you booked your massage through a spa, then you need to tip. If you booked directly with the massage therapist, a tip is not necessary.
What do you love most about working with new and expectant parents?
This work, for me, is largely about the birth parent. I love the challenge, first off, of making them comfortable. There is no one position that works for everyone, and it is important to be ready to shift position during the massage as much as is needed. I always have a stack of pillows at the ready, as well as pregnancy massage pillows for forward lying. Not everybody finds these comfortable so you need to be flexible. I really enjoy the continuity that this work provides, too, as I will generally see the client at least once a month, starting usually at the beginning of the second trimester. There is an energetic dimension to my work, and I always take a moment to connect with the baby, which is lovely. I am happy to be able to refer clients to doulas, lactation consultants, osteopaths, etc. when they ask for recommendations, and I love it when my clients send me baby photos!