Prenatal Massage/Massage Doula Courses

If you wish to add prenatal massage to your repertoire, we have numerous levels of options for you. You must begin with the Fundamentals of Pregnancy Massage(worth 12 cognitive CEs), which teaches you the cognitive, conceptual aspects of prenatal massage so that you can:

  • Explain how prenatal massage benefits the mother physically and emotionally
  • List and describe pregnancy related complications and their symptoms that would contraindicate massage therapy
  • Describe the physiological changes that take place in each system of a woman’s body during pregnancy, and how each of those changes dictate modifications in a standard massage routine
  • Successfully market and sell your prenatal and delivery services
  • Prepare suitable forms to use for release of liability and record-keeping

If you wish to move beyond the fundaments to earn the certification title of Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist, after completing the prerequisite Fundamentals course, you would take the Prenatal Certification course (worth 12 kinesthetic CEs), which teaches you how to perform a full body massage during all three trimesters of pregnancy. You will learn techniques utilizing your forearms and elbows to reduce stress to your hands and thumbs.

This course teaches a side-lying and modified supine positioning. We do not recommend specialty tables or equipment designed for allowing the woman to lay on her stomach for several reasons: Unless it is perfectly molded to her body, it will cause strain on her uterine ligaments, it is difficult to get in and out of in the final trimester, and makes no provision for a modified supine position (necessary to keep the weight of the uterus off of the vena cava). Also, such systems are needlessly expensive, and some are awkward to use.

Because this is a kinesthetic course, if you plan to submit the CEs earned to the NCBTMB, you will need to perform a practice session in the presence of a qualified proctor. A qualified proctor is someone who can provide documentation that they have training that equals or supersedes training in the modality for which they are serving as a proctor. Please see more about proctoring guidelines in our FAQ section.

Finally, if you also wish to earn certification as a Massage Doula, you must already be a certified prenatal massage therapist, either by having taken our Fundamentals of Pregnancy Massage and Prenatal Certification courses, or by special permission after having sent your prenatal certification documentation for review and approval. You will then take the Massage Doula course (worth 12 cognitive CEs). This portion of the course does not teach massage technique, since you will already have learned all the techniques that may be referenced in the Massage Doula training. In this course you will study how to:

  • Provide physical comfort, information, and emotional support during childbirth
  • Describe and explain the medically proven benefits of continuous labor support services (also known as doula services)
  • Provide a variety of useful pre-labor coaching suggestions to prepare your client for delivery, physically and emotionally
  • Describe and understand the physical processes that make up the three stages of labor, and some of the possible complications that can arise
  • Suggest a number of various positions for laboring that decrease discomfort and back labor, and promote more effective pushing
  • You will learn labor support from the perspective of a doula, so your labor room training will not be limited to massage, but instead will also cover the labor process itself, pre-labor coaching, back labor remedies, and pushing options

Upon completion of the 12 hour course, prior to being awarded the Certified Massage Doula title, you must attend local childbirth education classes (such as Lamaze from your local hospital), read two additional books (The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin and The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer), and attend three births as a doula intern. You do NOT have to have a supervising doula for your internship births. You will find the three laboring women on your own. The sales and marketing section of the Fundamentals of Pregnancy Massage course should help you considerably in this regard. There is no time limit to complete the births.

Kinesthetic courses and proctoring:

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education Approved Provider. Our provider number is 280672-00. The NCBTMB distinguishes courses as being in one of two categories: cognitive and kinesthetic. A cognitive course is one that teaches concepts(such as anatomy, physiology, etc) rather than a technique. Courses that teach specific hands-on techniques are classified as kinesthetic. Of the 48 CEs required every four years, a minimum of 12 must be kinesthetic. The NCBTMB requires that home study kinesthetic courses include a final practice session in the presence of a proctor, which is someone who can document equal or greater training and experience in the same modality you are studying. The documentation can be a school transcript or certificate, or a letter from an employer documenting their experience. The proctor does not have to be a massage therapist, but could also be in a related field (such as physical therapist, chiropractor, etc), as long as they have documented training in the same modality you are studying. For example, a midwife can only proctor prenatal massage if, in addition to her midwifery training, she also has prenatal massage training. A chiropractor can only proctor cranial sacral manipulation if they have training in cranial sacral work. A massage therapist with a 6 hour introductory course cannot proctor a 16 hour course, even if it is in the same modality, because it is not equal or greater training.

About the Instructor...

Judith Koch has been in the massage therapy field since 1991, after taking to heart a book that encourages seeking a career doing something that you love. In her former career, as a sales trainer and manager, she would frequently give her staff neck and shoulder rubs. Always fond of receiving massage herself, she realized this was a career she would love. Once Judith began, it was obvious that this was her niche. Her first discovery was that people like their massage therapist a whole lot better than they like their sales managers. She was hooked.

Less than two years after entering the massage field, three of her regular clients all got pregnant at once. Knowing that they must certainly need massage now more than ever, but having been taught that pregnancy was a contraindication for massage, she decided to fly half way across the country to attend an advanced prenatal, labor and infant massage certification course. She couldn’t believe it -- she found a niche within her niche, and was hooked again, this time getting to watch little miracles happen as icing on the cake. She continued her massage education and achieved national certification status in 1993. Her business continued to grow. An article appeared in the newspaper. The local television news included her in one of their health segments. Massage and Bodywork Quarterly, a national massage association journal, did a story on her. Parenting Magazine did year later. As the years progressed, she has given countless prenatal massages, and attended nearly 100 births. Her mothers maintained an unbelievable average of about four hours of labor, most completely drug free.

Early in her prenatal massage career, Judith started hearing about women called doulas (from the Greek word for “servant”), who helped women during labor. Judith had been relying almost exclusively on massage to assist her clients, and she wanted to see what these non-massage therapists were doing to ease labor. She attended the doula training nearest her, and two months later again flew half-way across the country, this time to take advanced doula training from Penny Simkin, a physical therapist who was instrumental in beginning the doula movement within the United States. There, Judith discovered a range of methods to make the laboring and pushing processes easier. Her certification with Doulas of North America was actually delayed several months because her mothers were having their babies too fast to meet DONA’s minimum five hour labor requirement. Based on her extensive training and experience, she has developed a thorough course for massage during all stages of pregnancy and delivery, as well as basic infant massage and movement. Isn’t it time you learn how to start watching miracles happen for a living?