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Harmonics

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Harmonics are a passive movement technique. This means the person that it is being done to, stays relaxed and does not initiate movement and the person practising the tecnhique, sets up a wave or jiggle or wiggle of movement, in harmony with the person's body.

 

This wave of movement can be set up in any part of the body, in different tissues. When done correctly, it can be incredibly relaxing. You can move within a small comfortable range or you can encourage movement into areas of tightness and restriction, gradually encouraging a relaxation of tissues.

The harmonic movement can be created with hands, fingers or using a scarf or other piece of fabric in order to create a broader contact, where this feel more comfortable, for either the practitioner or the client.

When to use:

Often in pregnancy, daily or weekly, or whenever a person is feeling the need (it is also lovely even if you aren't pregnant).

It is great in early labour between surges and always useful before other techniques as an introduction to the body to help the body relax both physically and mentally.

What does it do:

  • It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to boost oxytocin and aid relaxation of tissues.

  • It can help reduce tension in painful round and broad ligaments when done gently over the abdomen

  • Bodies like fluidic movement, it helps tissues to relax. Where part of a body is guarding against pain or due to being held in particular postures for long periods, harmonics can help the body to recognise this guarding and gradually ease a relaxation in the tissues. For example hips often get tight as people hold thier legs together (often subconsciously) or crossed. Someone passively rotating the leg in and out, in and out, can help the proprioception of the body to recognise this tension so it can be released, restoring balance to the body

Position:

The person can be standing, sitting, on all fours, leaning over a bed or birth ball, side-lying - The Position needed, depends on what area you are wanting to work on and what you are trying to achieve with your technique as well as what feels most comfortable for both people. The person needs to be able to relax completely the are you are working on so this determines the position they need to adopt.

Contraindication

  • That the person does not want it

  • Over the abdomen - this is contraindicated with prolonged bleeding during pregnancy, one off bleeds are fine but it is best to be cautious if there have been multiple bleeds

Caution

Some practitioners advise not to do with an anterior placenta, others say it can be done over the abdomen extremely gently. This should be done very gently at all times so I leave it up to you to feel what is right for your birthing person. Movements are always smooth and gentle, NEVER jerky or abrupt.

Harmonics can be done in all other areas of the body with an anterior placenta it is just the direct abdominal techniques that are a caution.

General Technique:

  1. Ask the birthing person if this feels like something they would like to try

  2. Move into the appropriate position and make sure everyone is comfortable - perhaps cushions under the knees if kneeling, a pillow over a birth ball, cushions supporting the legs from knee to ankle and baby bump if sidelying

  3. Introduce your hands or scarf gently and begin very softly and slowly with a broad contact and gradually increase the degree of movement to what feels good and appropriate. The speed should feel right for everyone involved. Check in frequently if it feels good

  4. When stopping, always slow to a stop, do not stop suddenly. Always hold for a moment at the end, take a few breaths and then release your contact gradually, melting away never disappearing.

Working on the Abdomen:

  1. With the birthing person on all fours or leaning over a bed, chair or birth ball, check in, seek permission and wrap the scarf around the baby bump, making sure you comb through the fabric, so that there are no bumps or creases and it fits well with a comfortable broad contact across the entire bump.

  2. The practitioner comes to stand legs either side of the birthing person's hips, so they are close, with knees softly bent and the scarf in their hands, thumbs pointing towards the ceiling and arms bent at the elbow.

  3. The practitioner can then lift the weight of the baby up towards the birthing person's spine. This can feel so lovely to have someone else take the weight for a while

  4. Movement can then be gently introduced. This is a small circular movement of the hands, like pedalling a bicycle or puffing along like a train. Having the rythm of a train sound in mind can be helpful to find the right pace. Begin with tiny circles and gradually increase to where it feels comfortable for everyone.

  5. This movement can then be continued for anything from a few minutes to 25-30 - whatever feels right

  6. If this circular movement doesn't feel right, just raising and lowering the hands each side is an alternative movement, like polishing a bowling ball, that can also feel wonderful. Experiment and see what is most relaxing and enjoyable.

  7. The movement is always smooth and gentle, gradually building up and then slowing down, check in that the scarf is moving with the bump and that it is not rubbing across the skin.

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Working on the limbs and the spine:

  1. Make sure the person is comfortable and relaxed. If the person is not able to be floppy, the technique will not feel nice

  2. With the limbs we can move them in and out in rotation, we can also pull gently and rhythmically on them in turn and in different positions. They can be bent or straight. We can jiggle individual muscle groups or the whole limb. There are so many different ways to move the limbs.

  3. When we move the limbs, they have an effect on the body and vice versa.

  4. These techniques can be nice to remind someone to relax a stiff body part or to help bring balance where there is tension

  5. A more vigorous jiggle/rubbing of individual muscle groups was described by Ina May Gaskin as shaking of the apples and can be helpful to stimulate energy and laughter and consequently relaxation and invigoration. This can be done with the hands or using a scarf.

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Working on the pelvis:

  1. This is best done on an all fours position, forward leaning over a comfortable surface either standing or kneeling or in a forward leaning inversion if indicated or the knee chest position (open or closed).

  2. Using the hands we can contact the ilia and jiggle or we can contact the ischial tuberosities and jiggle. A broad contact of the hands will feel most comfortable

  3. A scarf can also be used. It is draped over the pelvis from behind, encasing the buttocks like a sweet wrapper gathered at the sides. The motion can be adjusted to what feels nicest, circular, up and down or back and forth or an alternating combination.

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