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Supporting pregnancy with massage and shiatsu

Completion time

12 hours course materials and at least 5 hours practice time = 17 hours
Usually completed in 12 hours course materials and at least 5 hours practice time = 17 hours
pelvis model teaching Suzanne shiatsu
Suzanne Yates teaching birth work with model pelvis

Introduction from your tutor

Welcome to the course. I hope you enjoying learning with me, Suzanne Yates, founder of Wellmother and author of your course book “Pregnancy and childbirth: a holistic approach to massage and body work”.

I’ve set this course up so it is relevant for anyone who works in a hands on way with pregnant clients. I cover the essentials that any bodyworker needs to know such as the main changes in the body during pregnancy, positioning, postural assessment, exercise and visualisations, working with higher risk clients. Some of the techniques are more massage based and other more shiatsu based, but I present them in a way that you can choose which approach works with your skill set.

These days, awareness of fertility and assisted conception is important, but that merits a whole course. However I include some detail here. It is also of course important to know something about birth and the postnatal period too, but again that is too much to cover in one course, although again I give some ideas of how to work during these times.

For the theory aspects and even the exercises and visualisations, in some ways an on line course may be better than an in person course. You have time to repeat and review. You can chose the time which suits you best to study.

Regarding the practical techniques: please be aware that these are suggestions only. I feel that an on line course without any face to face teaching can not fully equip you to assimilate the less familiar techniques into your practice. I can offer individual feedback through videos and individual face to face sessions. I also run a 4 day in person version of this course (two versions: one geared for massage therapists and one for shiatsu therapists). In order to fully embrace working with pregnant clients, you will need some individual feedback on the practical aspects.

I hope that by doing this course, however, you will get more out of attending a more practically focused course. It can also be a good way to get you started on your work in the maternity field.

I hope this course inspires you to want to work more with pregnant women. It is such an important time :  not only for the mother but perhaps even more so for the baby.

It is an on going study: there is always more to learn. If you are new to the field, and especially if you have not been pregnant yourself, then you are at the beginning of a learning curve. You can use this course to refer back to you as you start working more with pregnant women. I am still learning even after having started studying shiatsu and massage over 30 years ago!

First exercise:

Take a moment to reflect on where you are at with your work with pregnant women. Is it new to you? Have you already worked for a while but feel there is more you could do? Reflect on what you would like to learn by the end of this course.  Come back to this at the end of the course and compare!

How the course is structured:

The course is set up with 8 lessons. You can chose where you want to start and you can go back and forward between the topics. In each lesson there a mix of topics: videos, audios and text documents. At the end of each lesson is a quiz to check your learning and an assignment, which is either doing and recording some practical work, or a reflective piece. You can work through these lessons and the assignments at your own pace. Once you have completed all the topics and assignments you receive a certificate.

I have given an indication of length of video, audio and an average reading time for the text documents.

Total length of time for the course is 12 hours of course materials, plus whatever time you spend on including any personal exercise practice or working with friends or clients.

Don’t forget you can post comments at the end of each page. You can also email me for clarification. I occasionally offer live sessions to support the course which you can upgrade to.



Regarding language and using the term “mother”

I am aware that there is discussion around the use of “mother”  out of respect for transgender people who are pregnant. I am still pondering this. It is tricky since the name of my company is Wellmother! For the time being I use the term “mother” rather than “woman” to include anyone person who is carrying and nurturing a baby. I see mother as a broad term which includes male and female and Yin and Yang. We refer to the earth as Mother earth and the Sun as father sky. In this sense mother is a more Yin energy and father a more Yang energy. People can be both Yin and Yang. Please let me know your thoughts.

Supporting material for all lessons

Main course book: Pregnancy and childbirth: a holistic approach to massage and body work.


Course book
Pregnancy and childbirth: a holistic guide to massage and bodywork by Suzanne Yates (Elsevier 2010)
Here is a link to Amazon to buy this book
If you live outside the UK and Europe, it may be easier to order it directly from Elsevier’s website

Other books by Suzanne
Suzanne Yates – Shiatsu for Midwives (Elsevier) ( you can order this from my website,
This is helpful for basic concepts of shiatsu as well as the maternity approach
Beautiful Birth (shiatsu and massage for labour; written for parents) (Pinter and Martin second edition 2017):

Other useful reading for pregnancy and birth
I need to update this list so any suggestions welcome

General pregnancy information
Sheila Kitzinger – The New Pregnancy and Childbirth 
There are many editions of this. You can get second hand versions of the Penguin edition from Amazon. A good general book, aimed at parents, which can give a nice introduction, especially if the field is new to you. It also has some good pictures of birth
Or Balaskas and Gordon – The Encyclopaedia of Pregnancy & Birth (Brown & Little)
Or – Birth and Beyond by Yeheudi Gordon, (Vermillion Press) (2002).
If you want to look at the period beyond birth as well, This covers the material of the Kitzinger and previous Gordon book but also covers the first year and beyond of a baby’s life and is excellent value at £17.99.

There are not really many I can suggest: which is why I wrote mine. However of the US books I like the following:
Leslie Stager: Nurturing Massage for Pregnancy LWW 2009:
Although this book is fairly brief, it gives a good over view of the work and, although Leslie is American, she is also a midwife and I like her approach. The next two books are useful, but the US approach and context is slightly different to European.
Carole Osborne-Sheets – Pre and Perinatal Massage Therapy (LWW, 2011)
Elaine Stillerman: Pre Natal massage (Mosby 2007)

The following books are about the orthodox medical model of birth and its appropriateness
Marsden Wagner – Pursuing the Birth Machine -The Search for Appropriate Birth Technology (Ace Graphics, 1994)
Enkin, Keirse and Chalmers – Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth (Oxford University Press)
Pat Thomas – Every Woman’s Birthrights(Thorsons 1996)
The following books relate to exercise
Elizabeth Noble – Essential exercises for the Childbearing Year (Houghton Mifflin)
Books by Janet Balaskas, Francoise Freedman

The following books are about holistic approaches to birth. Some are old now, but still relevant
Ina May Gaskin – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (Bantam) and Spiritual Midwifery
Elizabeth Noble- Childbirth with Insight (Houghton Mifflin)
Grantly Dick-Read – Childbirth without Fear (Harper and Row)
D. Tiran and S. Mack – Complementary therapies in midwifery practice (Bailliere Tindall)
Judith Goldsmith – Childbirth Wisdom

Other useful books
Coad – Anatomy and Physiology for Midwives, (Mosby)
Ashley Montagu- Touching – The Human Significance of the Skin (Harper and Row)
edit B. Sweeting – Mayes Midwifery (Bailliere Tindall)
Dr Sarah J Buckley Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering (Celestial Arts 09)
The following books are about Chinese medicine and Shiatsu

You don’t necessarily need to know this information if you are not a shiatsu therapist: but you may want to find out a little more. It is optional!

Ted Kaptchuck – The Web that has no Weaver (Century Hutchinson)
Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Kornngold – Between Heaven and Earth – A Guide to Chinese Medicine (Ballantine)
Introductory books on Shiatsu have been written by Paul Lundberg, Chris Jarmey, Nicola Pooley and Elaine Liechti. Choose the one which appeals most to you. They often have colour charts which you may find useful
Natural Childbirth the Eastern Way – A Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery through Shiatsu by Wataru Ohashi with Mary Hoover.
This is quite basic. I prefer his book on Baby Shiatsu (Touch for Love) but this is out of print.


  1. Annick Vandewoude on 04/03/2023 at 9:48 am

    Good morning,

    I sent this message in the new Energy Work community and I have just ordered your online course:

    “My name is Annick Vandewoude and I am a professional member of New Energy Work since January. I am a shiatsu practitioner in Belgium and I am very happy with all the wonderful online courses that you are offering.

    My daughter in law is 6 months pregnant at the moment and yesterday she went to the gyneacologist and she has too much, too early, too many contractions in her belly. She has to rest as much as possible and she has to take medications, so that the baby would not be born prematurely.

    Do you have any advice how I can support her during a shiatsu session?”

    Kind regards,

    Dinah John


    Hi Annick – welcome to the community and thanks for your support as a professional subscriber

    Sorry to hear of your daughter-in-law’s challenge to her pregnancy – Suzanne Yates is our top expert on this whole area – hopefully she’ll see your post and share her thoughts and suggestions. You could also visit her website and maybe contact her direct?

    Myself I would just say (without knowing more detail of the whole picture) that your main focus for the Shiatsu could initially be simply on supporting the Kidney and especially the Yin – with a mindset/intention of ‘Holding’ – calming, settling and relaxing – modelling a sense of peace and ease to both mother and baby

    I’m sure your shiatsu will help ❤️
    Love Dinah x

    • Suzanne Yates on 29/05/2023 at 6:36 pm

      I hope you got my email about your daughter in law. How is she doing? Suzanne

  2. Elizabeth Plant on 26/04/2022 at 8:02 pm

    I have had a break from pregnancy massage because of covid. I trained with Jing Massage many years ago and they always suggested your training as well. I would really like to learn a lot more and be able to give the best services I can give. I realise there is a lot to learn.

    • Suzanne Yates on 27/05/2022 at 11:14 am

      Dear Elizbeth, Sorry for the delay replying.. I was away teaching and only just catching up.. Looking forward to working with you.. Suzanne

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