Neighbourhood Midwives

The Bowen Technique for Pregnancy, Labour and Post-partum By Lisbeth Russell

Posted in: FactFile.

Origins of the Bowen Technique

Tom Bowen (b. 1916) in Victoria, Australia devised a system of gentle, remedial therapy using rolling-type moves over a number of location points on the body to correct disturbances, areas that are blocked, injured or undergoing changes to posture. It is non-invasive and completely safe. During the 1950’s and 1960’s his clinic was recorded as having 13,000 clients per year, an average of 60 people per day. He originally called himself an osteopath or manipulative therapist, later changing the name to the Bowen Technique.

How Does the Bowen Technique work?
This soft tissue remedial treatment sets about restoring the body’s innate ability to heal itself. During a session a small number of Bowen moves are made over specific location points on the surface of the body and the therapist then leaves the room, allowing the client to rest and for the body to begin to process the information it has just received. These pauses are a unique and fundamental part of each treatment. Each treatment is deeply relaxing as areas of the body begin to release unwanted tension and stress and the client leaves feeling relaxed, free of discomfort and with an increased sense of well-being and energy. There is usually a minimum of 3 treatments 5-10 days apart then maintenance treatments as and when necessary. Treatments are given either seated or on a massage table with plenty of support.

What Can the Bowen Technique help with?
Bowen can help by regulating the menstrual cycle and enhancing fertility in both men and women. It brings about a state of balance in the nervous system and may release areas that are blocked or unable to function optimally.
1st Trimester:
It can help with fatigue, anxiety, nausea, morning sickness and the emotional fluctuations associated with hormone changes, assisting the body to adapt to this new and fast-changing state.
2nd and 3rd Trimester:
The Bowen technique is very helpful in relieving lower back pain, sciatica, swollen legs and ankles, cramps, gastric discomfort, breathing, heartburn and reflux. As the pregnancy nears the end, Bowen sessions can relieve the discomfort of pelvic pressure, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, aching feet, legs and groin. It can also help in optimising foetal positioning prior to birth and has been known to change the baby’s presentation. Here is a quote from a midwife practicing in Lancaster:

“A colleague (midwife) asked me if Bowen might help to turn her baby round as she
was carrying breech at 35 weeks and was anxious to avoid a possible caesarean
birth or run the risk of a vaginal breech delivery. I gave her one treatment session
using the pelvic procedure and she phoned two days later to say the baby had
flipped over into a Cephalic (head) normal presentation.”

How does Bowen work in facilitating labour?
Bowen moves performed on a woman in labour help the process by relaxing pelvic muscles and ligaments, allowing the baby’s head to move more deeply into the birth canal. It also helps to manage the discomfort as contractions increase and enhances the ability to relax, focus, and feel more comfortable and confident to move around
and change position as well as resting during contractions. Bowen can also be used as a natural induction to labour.

Post-Partum Care and Healing
As the Bowen Technique stimulates the body’s own innate ability to heal itself and because it is so gentle and non-invasive it can be used after labour, after caesarean or for perineal healing and pain relief post-delivery. It helps to reset the position of the pelvis, helps the uterus to return to its normal position and strengthens and regulates the body.

There are specific moves to promote lactation and it is a very effective tool for helping relieve upper back, shoulder and neck pain often experienced during breast-feeding. It can also help you to sleep better and feel more rested generally.

About Lisbeth Russell, Cert ECBS., ITEC
I trained originally to teach Yoga for Pregnancy and Labour in the late 1970’s. I ran a busy practice in New Mexico, USA and was often invited by my students to support them during labour as a coach both for home births and hospital deliveries. Returning to England in the mid-1980’s I continued to teach, working with Janet Balaskas of the Active Birth Movement, also working with Yehudi Gordon and Lolly Stirk. During the 1990’s I trained as a Reiki practitioner, and in the 2006 I qualified as in Holistic Massage, training with Clare Maxwell-Hudson. I have added the Bowen Technique to my skills, qualifying with the European School of Bowen Studies and I continue to see amazing results for so many symptoms and conditions.


For more information or to make an appointment please visit or call me on +44 (0) 7970 166 986.