I will be taking my second “maternity leave” soon. Actually, sooner than expected. This leave will be a different experience for me. I am adopting from China this time around. My agency called me Monday and asked me if I could be in Beijing in less than three weeks. Yes! (To read more about our adoption-Massage and Charity) In the past few weeks my clients have started to ask about what I will be doing after my daughter’s arrival and when will they be able to schedule their next massage.
I thought back about about how I prepared for my first maternity leave when I was pregnant four years ago.There were a lot of changes I encountered at work during my pregnancy and my return to work. Here are my tips for my pregnant colleagues:
Announce the good news!
Most of my clients knew before I had the chance to tell them about my pregnancy or adoption(thanks to small towns and excited grandparents.) Most others found out around 16-20 weeks when I announced the good news casually after their massage.
Morning / afternoon / or evening sickness
Who wants to hear their massage therapist mid-massage “revisit” their morning crackers they had by their bedside? The truth was my clients were very understanding. There were a few in the early days that I had to apologize to temporary “time-outs” during their massage. There were times I had to sit take a few deep breaths and gather my composure. There were moments I stood and judged the distance between myself and the garbage can / sink. Sometimes I had to cancel appointments because I just did not feel well (something I very rarely did before). Most clients had been pregnant and were very understanding. There are many natural remedies out there for you to try during the the early months. I found the sea sickness wristbands to be very helpful.
The increasing distance between you and your clients and tools you may need.
There is going to be more room between you and your clients as the months go by. Luckily, your body changes slowly and you learn to accommodate for the growing space between you. I bought a chair on wheels to allow me to sit when I needed to sit. I already had a step stool for getting on the table for ashiatsu massage sessions. This stool was a great tool to help me during regular deep tissue massages during my pregnancy. Remember your table is adjustable also. Raise or lower it to meet your changing needs. Oh, and I had “cankles” which required me to put my feet up every evening to reduce the swelling.
Take it easy!
Carrying around growing a baby and being a massage therapist is hard work! Your body and joints change. The joints in my hands where noticeably looser, so I did slow down in the later months. Instead of 4 massages a day, I did 3, and then 2 a day.
Retain and take care of your clients while you are enjoying your new bundle of joy!
I had a contest during the last part of my pregnancy for my clients. The client who guessed the day (with closest time tie-breaker) won a free 1/2 hour massage. When they entered, they could leave their phone and email on the contest slip. I also stated I would contact them through these methods about my return, new schedule, etc. This worked out great when my maternity lasted far longer then I expected. I strongly urge you to keep your clients’ phone numbers with your appointment book should you need to take you leave sooner than expected! With my first daughter I did not have her early. I worked a week past my due date actually. About 2 months before my due date I began to hand out slips with other massage therapists whom I recommended . Yes, I recommend they see someone when I am gone, and you should too (Healthy Competition).
Paying the bills and job flexibility in massage therapy
I am self employed, so paid maternity leave is not an option. I saved up slowly for nine month. Obviously the lack of paid leave is a downside, but being a self employed massage therapist has tremendous advantages for working moms. I work less then ten hours a week and I make a decent income to help my family. I have a lot of flexibility with this job too. I love the field of massage therapy, and I sincerely love being a mom more than anything!
Maintaining your focus in the meantime
Babies and children are cute, require a lot of planning, and keep you from focusing on your job sometimes. I know even now I have to really work hard at not thinking about my packing list or holding my newest daughter for the first time. Its natural to have your mind wonder a little more during this time, but try your best to keep your client’s needs a priority while at work.
Returning to work
I am already preparing for my return to work in a few months. I found my return to work to be the most difficult challenge after my first daughter was born (Present Parent). Last time around, I worked very sparingly for the first year! I needed that time, and so did my daughter. It was actually during this time I was able to work on developing the massage CEU programs for Advanced Massage Techniques. Plan your return carefully and slowly. Do not rush it. For instance, if you need to pump in between clients, you may now need to schedule extra time in between massage.
Like I mentioned, leaving my daughter was much harder than I expected. I still do not enjoy leaving her, but I my mom is an angel and watches my daughter for the 6 hours a week I work at my clinic during the day. Then once a week I work in the evening and my husband watches my daughter. Having her in good hands, helps me put my hands to good use and focus on my clients. I highly recommend you find someone whom you trust wholeheartedly to watch your precious child while you help others!
Congratulations and Good Luck!
Ivy Hultquist, L.M.T.
1. Avoid falls. Falls are dangerous for pregnant women and their babies. Now is not the time to be tripping over your heating pad cord. I also took breaks from ashiatsu during the pregnancy. When I was nauseated, I did not do it. During the later months, I found it helpful for taking the stress of my hands and body.
2. Avoid using most essential oils during massages unless you have studied aromatherapy. There are some essential oils which are not recommended during pregnancy. Others can help with fatigue, nausea, and the discomforts of labor or the postpartum period. For a Aromatherapy Massage CEUS go to our site.
3. This one is easy and obvious – Schedule massage regularly for you and your little one! Enjoy!