I have the pleasure of virtually meeting Belinda Flowers Hibbins, founder of The Belle Flowers Clinic.
My clinic offers expertise in prenatal and postnatal massage, whilst my personal signature strength is motivating people to wellness in all stages of life (or pregnancy/postnatal months). – Belle
1. Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got started in the world of massage, and how and why you created the Belle Flowers Clinic?
My name is Belle, I am a mother of 3 (girl, boy, girl) and a step mum to 2 boys. I recently married the love of my life and we are living in wedded bliss in a little town south of Sydney.
I began studying remedial massage therapy 20yrs ago after completing a general interest night course in Shiatsu massage, whilst I was live-in nanny in Boston.
I had always been naturally gifted at massage for my friends, and seeing as I had no friends to hang out with in Boston, I took a night course to give me something to do.
Upon returning to Sydney I enrolled in a diploma program to get my certification so that I could do get paid massage work on the side (usually from the mums I nannied for!)
After the birth of my first daughter (almost, gulp! 15yrs ago) I opened my first private massage clinic, inside a personal training studio.
I was very busy with the clinic and a new baby, and I ended up with tendonitis in both elbows as I didn’t take care of myself properly.
I then went to work as a travel agent for 3 yrs while I recovered.
Massage is in my blood, and I always dreamed of having my own clinic again.
When I fell pregnant with my son I quit my full time travel job, and took a risk and opened another massage clinic inside a new healing centre that was just around the corner from where I was living.
It was a fabulous set up. My own hours, I could fit in around morning sickness, and looking after a child before and after pre school.
My books filled quickly and soon I was making more money in 3 days per week than working full time in a job an hour away from home!
After the birth of my third child I decided to move my clinic to home, so I could work at night and on weekends and have my days free with 2 little ones at home (my eldest was at school by then).
And this is when The Belle Flowers Clinic really came into being.
I decided to focus primarily on prenatal massage therapy, using a belly hole in the table, so that mama could lay face down, and feel completely comfortable.
I developed my method from hours of working with pregnant women, listening to them, adjusting where necessary, and making sure I could quickly assess what was going on for them to be able to treat them.
I wanted women to feel like they had someone working with them who understood what they were going through, who could help them feel better – quickly!
2. I understand that this is more than just a massage. Can you tell us about how or why you nurture the wellbeing of a woman as well?
As a trained counsellor, I believe it is my ability to be able to “hold the space” for my clients, to be able to listen without judgement when they are sharing how they are feeling.
My treatments will change for each woman, sometimes they will need deep tissue therapy, sometimes aromatherapy, sometimes stretching and more remedial work.
Sometimes they just need soft, soothing foot or scalp work to help settle their nervous system.
Each woman is different, and it will depend on her mood, emotions, aches and pains, and demands on her time as to what I will do in each treatment.
I am very aware of the general “emotional stages of pregnancy” of which I have blogged about, and I feel it is important as a therapist to know when someone is “just venting” or when something is actually off balance.
As a perinatal massage specialist I know the difference and can support as needed.
3. What are some of the most important benefits of massage for baby and for the parent or the person giving the massage?
The Touch Research institute in Miami has found that just 20mins relaxation massage per week in the third trimester increases oxygen to bub, and decreases stress hormones in mum.
So during pregnancy a regularly pregnancy massage is important for overall fetal development – physically and emotionally, and for mum too.
Baby massage has be shown to improve weight gain in preemie babies and increase motor function.
It develops an enduring bond for both baby and care giver.
It helps with muscle tone, and with development of gross motor skills. It can soothe a fractious bub and help a sleepy bub to wake up. It helps improve symptoms of colic as well!
4. What’s the single-most interesting or surprising thing you’ve seen or learned while working with babies and kids?
That all babies give out the same kind of pre-cry to alert mum to what they need. I studied Dunstan baby language years ago, and it was such a helpful tool to know what my babies needed.
Now when I am at the mall it is very hard not to run over to a new mum and say “don’t feed her, she’s tired!” as I can hear which cry baby is saying.
My 2 year old, when his sister was born, watched the training video I had on Dunstan Baby Language, and he came running one day saying “ hungry hungry hungry” when he heard her crying! Magical!
5. Can you share something you learned about the different types of massage and/or yoga through all of your international experience?
Oh where do I start?
There are so many different types of yoga.
I studied Holy Yoga which was a Christian based teaching.
It helped me to be able to weave spiritual aspects into my classes – not just Christian, but to be aware that people come to classes of all different faiths and belief systems these days.
It helps me to keep a very spiritual focus in my home practice, rather than just purely for physical fitness, which seems to be the main focus these days with commercial yoga classes.
I teach Yin/Restorative classes primarily these days due to the great need for people to slow down catch their breath and learn to connect with their inner self.
There are a lot of different massage styles too!
I am old school, so I use a lot of intuition, and it think if I was to be in a college these days I would get tongue tied with all the fancy language they use!
I use Deep Tissue a lot, as this requires focus and patience for the client’s connective tissue to release. I use deep breathing coordination with movement as well.
Remedial techniques have changed a lot, there are so many people who are using hand-held devices and equipment – to me it loses the personal touch of hand to skin contact.
I still believe that it is this personal connection that makes massage so important.
6. Can you share some massage tips for parents to help improve their children’s sleep?
Oh definitely use a therapeutic essential oil before bed! I choose to use doterra for me and my family, and in my clinic.
I diffuse a sleep blend about an hour before bed, and I also massage my kids feet and legs about once per week (lets be honest, I don’t have time for this each day!)
It really helps my son to stay in bed and he will sleep usually an hour longer after a massage.
7. Can you explain what remedial massage is?
Remedial massage is simply therapeutic techniques that help to stretch tight muscles and correct imbalance in the soft tissue of the body.
It includes gentle massage like Swedish techniques, plus deeper techniques like trigger point therapy and myofascial release.
8. What was the reason behind the beginning of the Wellbeing Retreats? Is there one coming up?
YES I have one this week on 25-27
November! The reason I started dong Retreats with my colleague Scott, is because I saw a need to get people out of their daily routine, and in a supportive and focused environment to really look at themselves.
I include nightly meditation and yin yoga, plus morning hatha yoga.
We run workshops that help people to understand that their emotions aren’t to be feared but to be embraced!
Once someone realizes that their emotions create pain and imbalance, they can learn to listen and respond to them.
Our retreats help people to listen better to the warning signs in their emotional and physical body, and know how to work with it!
9. Will there be more to come for your meditation podcast? Have you thought about incorporating your teaching into a podcast?
This is definitely something in the pipeline for 2017.
I have a whole wellness program planned out, so people can jump on to the website at any time and get a meditation, a yoga vid or read a blog that will support them where they are at.
10. Where can people find you if they want more information?