Welcome, Emma Goodwin aka @skinwitchla!
Kate: I’m so excited to get to ask you all about Gua Sha for babies and pregnancy today, and about why you love the BEB Organic Nurturing Gua Sha Set. Thank you for being here!
Emma: You’re most welcome. I’m delighted to be here.
Kate: Before we begin, I’d love to hear more about your perspective. Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Emma: I’d be happy to! My name is Emma Goodman and I am a holistic esthetician and energy healer. I'm also a trained doula and I've done massage therapy, cranial sacral therapy. I practice a lot of different healing modalities, and then incorporate them all into one treatment, which is my signature facial. I call it the Skin Sourcery Facial, and work with Gua Sha tools for lymphatic drainage and helping to open up connective tissue, and really promote relaxation from the inside out. I’m based in Los Angeles, California, and I've been doing this for about 20 years. I’m just obsessed with skin and all things nerdy when it comes to holistic care for the body, the mind, the spirit, and for connection and bonding.
Kate: Amazing. Thank you. And you have a special love for Gua Sha. I found you on Instagram when I was on my own journey, trying to really understand Gua Sha. You stood out in such a big way. What is it about Gua Sha that you love so much?
Emma: When I first learned about Gua Sha it was because I had Gua Sha healing work done on my body, which is very different from facial Gua Sha. With body work you really rub the skin in a more rigorous way. It helps to create a lot of blood flow and circulation, which is super helpful for muscle pain and tension and for overall stress. And then I became really interested in Gua Sha for the face - in Gua Sha facials - because I received a facial from an esthetician that incorporated a rose quartz Gua Sha stone into my facial. And it felt so amazing. I just knew that it was the next thing I needed to learn. That was almost 10 years ago now.
Kate: How does Gua Sha change the way you feel in a massage? What's different about a Gua Sha massage versus a more typical type of massage or facial?
Emma: Gua Sha has a very different frequency because of the use of the stone. So it depends on the use of the stone and what you're trying to achieve. All stones are not created equal energetically. Rose quartz is loved for its healing, calming, and soothing benefits. It's known as the love stone. It helps to connect with the heart space, the heart chakra, opening up the heart, helping to release grief and any repressed emotions within the heart and circulatory system. It's very naturally cooling, so you don't even have to necessarily put it in the refrigerator to have the cooling effect of it. Rose quartz is really great for people who are very sensitive, like in most cities, people are very sensitive and their skin flairs up red, and it becomes even more sensitive when they’re exposed to pollution or to too many harsh chemical skincare products.
Kate: The BEB Organic Gua Sha Stone is made of rose quartz. Why do you love that for babies and mamas?
Emma: The Rose Quartz stone is known for trust, love and harmony. That is really an ideal energetic fit between parent and child. It can really connect the parent and child in a deeper bonding experience because there's an intention behind doing the massage. So as you use the products that you're using, and you start to massage your baby with the Gua Sha stone, it helps create the space for a deeper level of connection because of the energetics of the stone.
Kate: Wow. That sounds amazing.
Emma: So the heart shaped Rose quartz, the love stone, it builds trust, harmony connection and bonding. And I love the use of the stone during the BEB Organic Gua Sha massage for the baby, because you're really setting the intention of building that bonding experience. Usually you massage your baby before bed. So you're putting on all the products and really preparing the baby before the massage and then connecting with your baby, looking into their eyes and asking them for permission before you massage and, and then really tuning in to the energetics of the stone, and setting your intention - guiding the energy in a very, very subtle and gentle way to create a deeper type of bonding experience as opposed to just a normal baby massage.
Kate: That makes so much sense. The power of intention is so strong. You mentioned products. What products do you recommend to get the most out of a BEB Gua Sha treatment for babies or pregnancy?
Emma: The BEB Organic Gua Sha method for babies and pregnancy begins with the Soothing Serum to balance and clear followed by the Nurturing Oil to calm and smooth, and then you pair that with the BEB Organic heart shaped stone. It is the perfect combination because you thoroughly hydrate the skin with the Soothing Serum and then lock that moisture in with the oil. And Nurturing Oil provides the perfect glide to make the stone work at its best.
Kate: BEB Organic developed their own method of Gua Sha for babies and pregnancy because it hadn’t been done before. What is special and different about the BEB Gua Sha method?
Emma: What makes the BEB Organic Gua Sha method so special is that we're really slowing things down. So you're not using the Gua Sha tool as you normally would on the body for an adult, you're making it so that you're helping to open up the lymphatic system, help with drainage, help with circulation, promote the digestive system and healing. It's really wonderful for babies or pregnancy, and even up until your little ones are seven, eight, nine year olds. Hopefully by then they will be learning to use self-care and healing methods on themselves to cope with the stressors of life, but really, no one is too young or too old to love getting a Gua Sha massage.
Emma: The specific BEB Gua Sha method was designed to work at three different phases - prenatal, postnatal, and then also for your baby. When you use the BEB method for prenatal treatments it can help with stretch mark prevention, muscle stretching, help reduce labor discomfort and swelling. It increases circulation to support lymph drainage that removes toxins and helps with relaxation. And then when you use it on the face, it can really increase that pregnancy glow since it helps get more circulation to your skin.
Emma: When you're using the BEB Gua Sha method for prenatal, this will help with stretch mark prevention, lymphatic drainage, draining toxins from the body, muscle stretching. Regular massage has even been proven to shorten labor and improve the health outcomes of babies.
Emma: The BEB Organic Gua Sha method for postnatal can help with scar healing, mastitis, stretch marks, and this can reduce a lot of stress and tension within the body.
Kate: Wow. It really sounds like the BEB Organic Gua Sha massage method can do so much to help us! How is the BEB Organic Gua Sha method for babies different from regular infant massage?
Emma: Gua Sha massage for babies is different than regular infant massage in that it slows everything down just a little bit. The stone, the feel of the stone is very cooling and calming. It helps to reduce stress tension. It can also help with circulation underneath the skin. It helps with lymphatic drainage for the baby. It also helps with digestive support from colic. It just feels different and it's not that one type of massage is really necessarily better than the other. It's not that one should be used exclusively over the other. Gua Sha is a new, different and fun way to engage in that connection and that relationship that adds an entirely new element. When you have that whole wide surface from the stone to work with, it gives a different feeling and experience than what fingers can do. The benefits are different.
Kate: So the BEB Gua Sha massage for babies is different from regular infant massage in that you get to have a tool in your hand that can amplify the benefits of an infant massage. So there's more intention there. It feels different.
Emma: Yes. And from my experience with working with babies, this feels really good for them. It's very cooling and calming, really relaxing, and it uses a different sensation than your fingers do.
Kate: That definitely reflects my experience doing the BEB Organic Gua Sha method with my babies. And what about for pregnancy? How is pregnancy Gua Sha different from other types of Gua Sha, massage?
Emma: The BEB pregnancy Gua Sha is different from other types of Gua Sha massage in that it is very relaxing. So usually people who have had regular Gua Sha body massage have experienced more of a rigorous sensation and movement with a tool where you're bringing up blood flow. That's very similar to cupping in that it brings that blood flow to the surface and you see those hickey-like marks on the body.
This is very, very different. The BEB Organic Gua Sha pregnancy method is very slow and methodical. It's helping to drain lymphatics, open up fascia and connective tissue. And you're creating broad strokes with the side of the tool, which is very cooling and calming, but it is very effective in increasing circulation. So even though we're slowing down the pace of the massage, you're still able to get amazing results.
Kate: It sounds like Gua Sha for baby and pregnancy is very different from the traditional Gua Sha with rigorous rubbing, but it's not that different from facial Gua Sha. It sounds like we’ve figured out a way to get all those benefits that we've come to know and love from facial Gua Sha for prenatal, pregnancy and baby care. BEB Organic has essentially created a new method - the baby and pregnancy Gua Sha method - that translates those benefits that we know and love from facial gua sha to babies and pregnancy. Is that right?
Emma: The BEB Gua Sha method for baby and pregnancy is a little bit different than the Gua Sha method for the face, but not entirely. It does have that really slow, methodical pace to it, which also has amazing healing benefits - increasing blood flow and circulation, helping move toxins and stagnant lymph into the nodes for detoxification. It helps with lifting, firming and tightening by decreasing puffiness.
Kate: When you teach a new mom how to do the BEB Organic Gua Sha method with their baby, what do they really need to know to get started?
Emma: When I'm teaching my clients about how to Gua Sha for babies or when they are handling pre and post natal challenges, there are a few things that they need to know.
First are your tools. I want them to have the BEB Organic Soothing Serum, which is a water based serum that you’ll apply all over the baby. Second you need the Nurturing Oil. This has a pure oil base, which gives you a nice glide. Third, your heart shaped Rose quartz tool. You'll also need a cozy space. And the big points to know are really just the angle of the tool of how you're using it. The direction that you’ll draw the stone up and down the skin is really up to you. There's not a specific direction that you need to flow in, except when it comes down to the belly. You want to definitely massage in the area of digestion when it comes to the belly - wrapping around the rib cage and underneath the belly, underneath the belly button. When you massage the tummy, you should always move in a clockwise direction.
Emma: Then there’s the angle of the tool. You want to keep it at about a 15 degree angle. You want to have only enough space underneath the tool that your forefingers fit between the tool and your baby’s skin… or the skin of your belly or thighs. Then you're going to run the tool along the baby's skin or your own skin, depending on what you're using it for. And you're gently gliding it very, very, very slowly. So we're not trying to invoke any kind of quick circulation or redness. You're just doing it extremely slowly so that the connective tissue can slowly open up, and the fascia can release.
Kate: This all sounds great, but now I’m just full of questions. How should I position my baby? Should I lay my baby down? Are we going to sit in bed? When is the right age to start? What should I know about getting them ready? What is the best way to set intention and ask permission like you mentioned before?
Emma: So to prepare your baby, you want a nice cozy space. You want a little soft blanket on top of them. A great time for infant massage is after they get out of the bathtub and before bedtime. As for ages, it can be from newborn all the way up to an adult. There’s really no time too early or too late to start with Gua Sha as long as there are no underlying health conditions that prohibit massage of any type.
Emma: Before you start, figure out where that nice cozy space will be. You’ll lay your baby on their back and begin with just touching very gently and looking into your baby's eyes and asking permission. If it's okay for you to massage them, they will give you cues. Sometimes they're going to be fussy and they don't want to really do it at that time. So then you can just set it aside for another time, but if your baby is responsive and ready, and looking at you in the eye making eye contact, then it's safe to say that you can start. You begin by placing a couple of pumps of Soothing Serum in your hands, and just gently make sure that your hands are nice and warm before you directly apply the product onto your baby's skin.
Emma: I like to begin with the belly first and just gently using small strokes in a clockwise direction, and then applying it along the chest and out towards the arms and into the hands and that area, you can just kind of like rock them with your hands and smile and make cooing noises. And then you're going to go ahead and apply the Soothing Serum on each leg. So I begin at the very top of the trunk of the thigh and then go directly down towards the feet and end with the toes. Then you can flip them over and then you can apply your products on their back. And then also along the backs of the thighs and the calves and feet.
Kate: And what about the arms?
Emma: For the arms you can place your baby with their back against you. Just sit them in your lap so they're in an upright position. That way you have a better angle while you’re holding onto them and also massaging the left side of the arm, and then the right side of the arm.
Kate: And what if they are enjoying the massage and they want it, but they don't want to lay on their tummy. Can you give them a Gua Sha massage while they're sitting up or in any other positions?
Emma: You can have them setting up the whole time while you do the Gua Sha if that’s what they seem to like best. So if they're very wriggly and they don't want to be on their bellies at all, then you are able to do it with maybe a toy sitting in front of them. That can grab their attention, a toy sitting in front of them, so then you can slowly do your Gua Sha on your baby’s back.
Kate: That was a really thorough explanation. Thank you! What about the skull? Can you use the Gua Sha tool to help work out cradle cap with the oil?
Emma: You can definitely use Gua Sha to help with cradle cap. I would start with the Nurturing Oil and gently massage all over the scalp in a really, really gentle way. You can use your Gua Sha tool as well, just in a very slow rhythmic motion from the very top of the scalp and gently working your way to the back of the scalp. And remember that you're keeping the tool at that 15 degree angle. Babies also really tend to like Gua Sha on the face. You can first apply the Nurturing Oil along the face and scalp, and then you can gently rub with your fingers or the Gua Sha tool. Go from the middle line of the face, towards the ears and gently massage the ears every time you reach back toward the ears. And then you can gently use your Gua Sha tool in the same direction.
Kate: Safety is always a big question on parents' minds. Do you think Gua Sha is safe for babies and during pregnancy?
Emma: As soon as you are able to do infant massage for your baby, you can also incorporate Gua Sha. Most healthcare providers do recommend newborn massage as well as pregnancy massage starting in the second trimester. When your baby is old enough for massage, they're old enough for Gua Sha. But as with anything when it comes to babies and pregnancy, it is always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider.
Kate: That makes sense. Can you please tell us a bit more about how you hold the Gua Sha tool, and how much pressure to use?
Emma: For sure! The way you hold the heart shaped Gua Sha tool is from the very top of the heart. Use three or four fingers over the top and pointing down toward the bottom of the heart. Then slide it along the skin, always keeping it at about a 15 degree angle so your thumb fits comfortably between the stone and the skin.
Remember that when we're doing the Gua Sha method for babies and pregnancy, the pressure is very light. You're essentially only using the weight of the tool to gently glide across the baby's skin. So you're not putting any pressure from your hand onto it. With this slow and light pressure, you won’t see any blushing in the skin for babies. If you do see the skin blush, you will want to apply less pressure. The pressure that we're talking about is very, very gentle. So you won't be seeing any kind of redness coming to the surface. When you’re working on stretch marks or a c-section scar, it is okay to use more pressure to really amplify the microcirculation. For babies, the focus needs to be on relaxation and tension release in the muscles.
Kate: For how long and how often do you recommend doing Gua Sha with your baby?
Emma: My recommendation for baby Gua Sha would be at least five minutes per day. You can do this every day and when it's most convenient for you, but preferably in the evening after you've given them a bath and prepared them and made a comfy little area. It is good to lower the lights or put on soft music. Usually the time that you generally do your infant massage is when you can add in the BEB Gua Sha technique. If your baby is feeling fussy and not ready for the massage, then you can just do it at a different time or skip it for the day.
Kate: Let’s go back to pregnancy for a minute. Are there any areas of your body to avoid during pregnancy?
Emma: Yes. As with any type of massage during pregnancy, the places you would like to avoid using any type of reflexology would be your ankles, the wrists, and the top of your shoulders. You can really focus in on areas where you want to relieve muscle tension or prevent skin stretching that might contribute to stretch marks like on the belly, breasts and thighs.
Emma: So during pregnancy you can do your belly, you can do your breasts, you can do the backs of your thighs, the top of your neck for relieving tension around the glutes area, where you tend to get a nerve tension or nerve blockage.
Kate: And this sounds like it can be a really great way to bond with your partner as well. Just hand over the tool and let them get to work.
Kate: Something people really love about the BEB pregnancy massage is that it helps prevent and treat stretch marks. And that it helps with C-section and other kinds of scars.
Emma: Yes, it also helps with the same issues postnatally, and can help with breast engorgement too.
Kate: Oh, so let's talk about Gua Sha and the breast for a minute. Do you use products over the nipple area? Would you Gua Sha over the nipple or around it? Like if you're working on engorgement? How?
Emma: It's kind of like you're giving yourself a breast exam. So what you do is go in little circles. You can go all the way around the areola and put products on the nipple as well. The coolness of the stone helps with the heat of inflammation. The BEB Gua Sha method is really good to soothe breast engorgement because it encourages lymphatic drainage. When it comes to mastitis, you can use the Nurturing Oil because it is packed with antioxidants from Phytocura that can help prevent infection. Nurturing Oil is food grade, so you can use it all over the breast area - it is fine for breastfeeding and won’t interfere with your baby latching on.
Kate: So, how often should I do a Gua Sha on myself when I'm pregnant and for how long? And can I use it on my face too?
Emma: You can use the Gua Sha tool for your whole body, including your face. You can use it to amplify that beautiful glow for the face when you increase blood flow and circulation. It will lift and tighten the skin. Ideally you’ll Gua Sha for at least 5 minutes, and up to 20 minutes per day. Self care is so important.
Kate: Got it. So how does it work to help prevent and treat stretch marks? What's going on with stretch marks anyway?
Emma: Well, stretch marks are essentially micro-tears in the skin. Using the BEB Gua Sha method, along with the BEB Soothing Serum and Nurturing Oil, can really help prevent and also speed up the recovery of micro-tears. So the benefits of Gua Sha for stretch marks is that when you're using the products, along with the tool, you're helping to really nourish and speed the healing by actively increasing that microcirculation… and giving your skin that overall beautiful glow.
Emma: The bottom line for Gua Sha is that whether you are using it for yourself pre or postnatally, or for your baby, it is really good for overall circulation and blood flow, for detoxification and releasing tension.
Kate: And those are the exact benefits that we need to handle some of the toughest things about pregnancy.
Kate: Emma, thank you so much for answering all my questions! I know I had a million of them. You’re so knowledgable. I really appreciate your time!