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A book by Suzanne Yates with Tricia Anderson

Book Details

Paperback, 208 pages, 98 illustrations
Published by Elsevier August 2003

Books for Midwives ISBN 0 7506 5523 2


Foreword by Tricia Anderson / Preface / Introduction / Section 1: Professional Issues / Section 2: Yin and Yang – applying eastern theory to midwifery / Section 3: Hands on shiatsu – practical applications / Section 4: How can shiatsu help midwives / Appendices: Glossary of Japanese terms, Research references, Contact lists for training.

Buy Shiatsu for Midwives on Amazon UK  |  Outside the UK buy from Elsevier

Independent review by Midwifery Today

Review by Tamsin Grainger  at bottom of page


“I wrote this book because there aren’t many good books available on the use of any complementary therapies in pregnancy and birth, especially on shiatsu or massage. I hope that it will appeal not only to midwives, who may want to use it in their work, but also shiatsu and massage therapists who may feel unsure of how to fully use their therapies in this specialised field, as well as parents. I present the eastern theory behind shiatsu (which is largely the same as acupuncture theory, although there are some differences as shiatsu is a bodywork modality) as well as practical guidance on how to use shiatsu for those who aren’t familiar with it. It has many case studies so you can see the kinds of situations in which it can be used.” Suzanne Yates

Based on traditional Chinese and Japanese approaches to health, shiatsu can be used to alleviate many of the chronic symptoms of pregnancy such as backache, insomnia and morning sickness. It can also help during labour and birth, as well as relieve postnatal problems such as heavy postpartum bleeding or difficulties with lactation. A shiatsu treatment simply encourages the body to balance its own natural energy by gentle stimulation of its energy pathways, the meridians – the same pathways used in acupuncture. The age-old midwifery skills of touching and stroking are an intrinsic part of nurturing and cherishing – the essence of ‘being with woman’. Shiatsu takes this simple healing technique one stage further. Within this book you will find tips on how to use core midwifery skills of touch, gentle pressure and massage in a more systematic and focused way.

Suzanne Yates is the only shiatsu teacher world-wide to have made maternity work her main focus. She has been working with midwives and pregnant women for the last 13 years and developed a course of applied shiatsu for midwives that fulfils NMC requirements for training.
Tricia Anderson, midwife lecturer and supervisor and past editor of Practising Midwife, has collaborated with her to enusre the content is appropriate to midwives’ Code of Practice. This is a key text for anyone wishing to explore this new area.

Key Points

This practical guide offers effective alternatives to orthodox treatment and provides a valuable addition to modern midwifery care.

Focuses on a range of shiatsu treatments suitable for maternity care, providing examples of safe and effective work that can be done in a short session

Specific techniques designed to help with many of the common problems of pregnancy, labour and early motherhood.

Discusses the research base that underpins shiatsu, providing the most up-to-date information to support evidence-based care.

Fascinating case studies provide many anecdotal accounts of effectiveness.

Clear line drawings and photographs accompany the techniques, aiding understanding and successful practice


A recent local study has demonstrated that women who received shiatsu treatments from their midwife during pregnancy were more likely to have a spontaneous labour, thereby significantly reducing the need for induction and consequently lowering cesearean operations.

Review of Shiatsu for Midwives for Midwifery Today

One of the beautiful things about midwifery is the willingness of its practitioners to search beyond the status quo for treatment modalities. Shiatsu – an ancient Japanese form of massage in which pressure points are stimulated – is one practice that midwives have enthusiastically embraced in recent decades. It is yet another respectful, noninvasive way to help pregnant women maintain optimal health.

The authors first offer an overview of shiatsu, define key concepts, and then describe the childbearing year from a shiatsu perspective. The latter is an important primer in energy changes during pregnancy, effects on the organs, baby’s energy in utero and during labor and changes in the early postnatal period. The reader will understand, from this perspective, how to support a healthy body in its natural functions and rhythms.

In section three, the authors tell readers how to roll up their sleeves and get started. With the help of numerous photographs, line drawings and diagrams, sidebars with step-by-step instructions and highly readable text, chapter one of this section guides the midwife through basic principles and applications. Using the same teaching aides, chapter two homes in on specific areas of the body-back, neck/head/shoulders, abdomen, legs and feet, arms and hands-and explains the benefits of working in these areas. Case studies described in sidebars illuminate the text. The third chapter in this section includes shiatsu for the newborn, with supporting photographs and diagrams.

If all that weren’t enough, the authors include a section about shiatsu for self healing – a wonderful way to empower pregnant women to care for themselves wisely and holistically. By no means is it a comprehensive chapter, but it provides enough for women to significantly support their own health and well being.

Appendices, a glossary and sample leaflets complete this useful guide. Yates and Anderson, both well-known and talented specialists in antenatal education and alternative therapies, have given midwifery a valuable tool for the childbearing year.

This is the review that appeared in Midwifery Today #72.


Shiatsu for pregnant woman’s shoulders

Review of ‘Shiatsu for Midwives’ by Suzanne Yates with Tricia Anderson (Books for Midwives) 2003.

By Tamsin Grainger in Shiatsu Society Journal

‘Shiatsu for Midwives’ is the most thorough and helpful book on Shiatsu for pregnancy, labour and the early post-natal period I have found. The ideas are both original and tried and tested (if that’s not a contradiction in terms), and Suzanne’s many years of experience and open way of learning from her students and clients is apparent and supports her text throughout. In her introduction, she states that she is looking for “a coherent model of shiatsu midwifery care”, and that the book covers “examples of safe and effective work”.

With strong back-up from Tricia Anderson, senior lecturer in midwifery and an independent midwife, the book looks at the nature of Shiatsu (5 elements and TCM), its benefits on maternity care, research, practical techniques for pregnancy, labour and the early post-natal period, and Shiatsu to heal yourself. Like one of those super-mums who’s prepacked a well-stocked bag for her hospital confinement, Suzanne has thought of everything from photos to diagrams to a glossary, to a sample leaflet, and quotes from midwives and mothers. And, it’s all presented with full awareness of the safety aspects for all concerned.

Suzanne warns that chapter 3 on Key Concepts may not be of interest to Shiatsu Practitioners, but I found it really interesting and have already used some of the exercises in my classes. In Section 2 the research list is fantastic, providing ample ammunition for the questioning Health Professional on the use of Shiatsu in this field. The boxes with text written by parents and midwives are very easy to read and are positioned well amongst the main body of the text so that the overall flow is really good.

The photos are of a high standard and the text, though dense, is clear and well designed. These photos are also shameless, showing clearly how to access points such as CV/GV1, working around a heavily pregnant tummy and things you may not have thought were decent but are in fact helpful in labour!

The absolute strength of this book is its awareness of the fears around working in this area, and reassurance that its fine to use our human and professional skills: “Although we need to relearn what were once instinctive skills, this should not make us too anxious, in this litigation-driven society, about the safety aspects of using shiatsu. The body gives immediate feedback and no harm can be done if certain common sense guidelines are adhered to.”

Another strength is that the book contains information acquired through Suzanne’s in-depth work, not just theory, and there are subsequently places where she over-rides received information on what to do or not to do: “There are no absolute contra-indications”. Personally I trust her completely. She has not only worked in the field for years but has made fantastic contacts such as a Japanese London-based midwife whose mum was a samba (traditional Japanese midwife). She certainly backs-up the findings I have gathered from working with mothers and babies.

I lent the book to an experienced (though sceptical) midwife friend and her reaction was, yes, she’d certainly buy the book to supplement a course on Shiatsu in midwifery, but not otherwise. This isn’t surprising as the book does acknowledge what we all know, that it’s not possible to learn Shiatsu from a text, even a good and thorough text like this one. But my friend enjoyed the boxes with personal accounts in them, and as she has used other ‘Books for Midwives’ (same publisher), she can confirm that the book is based on true midwifery practice, reliable and worthwhile. I have no doubt that the existence of this book will add kudos to the idea of Shiatsu being integrated into maternity practice.

‘Shiatsu for Midwives’ is aimed towards Shiatsu Practitioners as well as midwives, and there may be times when you just skip over parts that make pure sense to the them but not to us. However, if you are a practitioner who’s nervous about safety, this book will both reassure you and give you new ideas, and if you are a parent-to-be and a Shiatsu student or practitioner, it will be vital.



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