Here at MFT we are passionate about all the amazing people supporting mums and parents in general. MFT meets is our new space where we will be interviewing some of these men and women helping in supporting, healing and making pregnancy, birth and parenthood an easier place.
This week I'm speaking to Hannah Johnson. I've been following Hannah for quite some time on social media and I love what she does for women. Hannah specialises in C-section scar massage - a topic very close to my heart, having had an abdominal birth, as well as to 1 in 4 women in the UK. To find out more about her head to her website at http://www.hannahjohnsontherapies.com/.
MY FOURTH TRIMESTER: Hi Hannah! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me. Tell us a little bit about what you do and your background. What sort of postnatal help do you focus on, and how did you end up doing it?
HANNAH: I am a mum of two and Sports Massage Therapist. I specialise in Pregnancy and Post-natal recovery, in particular C-section Scar massage. As I deepened my work in this area I realised how little information there was for women recovering from a C-section. I soon found lots of women were in pain or feeling numb and restricted from their scars and I knew massage could really help them.
I know you have a “How to massage your scar”-course and I find it so intriguing - it's definitely something I would've needed back in the day! Tell us a little bit about it and what it means for someone interested in taking it.
This course was born out of the desire to want to help more women! I had started seeing really great results in my treatment room and could also see the benefit of women massaging their scars themselves. It was during the first lockdown where I wasn’t allowed to see clients in person that I decided to see how I could help online!
The course combines massage and exercise to support women with the C-section recovery. The aim is to help women reconnect with their tummies and scars, feel more confident in themselves and in some cases help women to touch their scars for the first time. It is a four week online course where each week we lead our small group of ladies through guided massage sessions and exercises and stretches that will support their healing and strengthen their bodies.
Did you always want to do what you do? What made you interested in this?
I’ve always had an interest in alternative therapies and when I had my babies I became interested in massage for pregnancy and the post-natal period. I actually got into scars because of my husband though! When our daughter was just one, he underwent major surgery which resulted in a huge scar right down his abdomen. He suffered lots of complications, many due to the scar so I learnt a lot in trying to help him recover. When I started working with post-natal women I realised this knowledge worked really well for the ladies I saw with C-section scars.
What’s the importance of postnatal massage, and why a scar massage?
Postnatal massage is really important to help ‘reset’ and re-align the body after pregnancy. Scar massage is especially important because the body creates scar tissue after a trauma to the tissue, which can build up and cause problems in the body. Massage can help prevent the build up of scar tissue and also help to ease any pain, restriction and numbness around your tummy and scar.
How has the pandemic changed the way you are helping new Moms? How has the digital landscape shaped your profession?
In the first lockdown I wasn’t allowed to see any clients in person and it was really a matter of thinking, what can I do to still help these women? I started with just a couple of one hour workshops on Zoom in the evenings and they were so successful that I developed them into longer courses. I honestly never thought I could do my work online but in a way this pandemic has forced me to explore new ways of working which has unexpectedly been amazing!
What is the most satisfactory thing about what you do?
It’s got to be seeing the look on someone’s face after a treatment where they just feel so much better and often as though a weight has been lifted from them, or when someone tells you they no longer have any pain or numbness around their scar after following one of my courses. It’s the best feeling!
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Seeing my family and friends in person, hugs, taking the kids somewhere other than the park!! Business wise I’m so excited to continue helping women and to continue developing ways to help them to recover after birth.
For anyone out there having had a Caesarean, do you have any special advise ? For example, I had a CS summer 2019 and remember I was really disturbed by the scar and placement of the scar just afterwards, and I found it very difficult – still do – to access help and guidance in scar recovery. (My GP did not check anything on my 6 week check-up either which was shocking!).
I really feel for you and unfortunately it is such a common experience for women after birth and it has been made even worse by the pandemic. As soon as your scar is fully healed you can start to massage it and I really recommend doing this. Not only can it help with the scar tissue and physical appearance but also can help you to connect with your scar and tummy emotionally. If you find it hard to touch your scar you can start with placing your hand just below your belly button and taking some deep breaths, sending your breath as far down to your scar as you can. This really helps start the reconnection process. You can also use a soft make up brush or cotton bud to gently sweep over the area. This can help with sensitivity of the skin as well as getting your body and brain used to your scar.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up or anything special you’re working on?
Yes, I have a new self-paced C-section Recovery Programme that launched in February. I have developed it with my friend Roxanne Ekhaese who is a post-natal fitness specialist so we cover both massage and exercise for recovery and healing. We have a section about initial recovery and emotional healing too which is often not covered or talked about!
Finally – what emoji best describes you at the moment and why?
🥴 Slightly frazzled juggling homeschool, running a business and a home at the moment!!