I'm always on the lookout for alternative therapies to improve menstrual cycle health. So many women turn to powerful artificial hormones such as oral contraceptives for symptoms such as irregular periods, period pain, and even hormonal regulation. While therapies such as the Pill may mask symptoms temporarily, they do nothing to address the root cause of women's symptoms or balance a women's own hormones.
I've long been aware of a unique kind of abdominal massage called Arvigo® Therapy, but practitioners with this kind of specialized training are few and far between. So I was delighted to discover that a homebirth midwife in my area is a certified Arvigo® practioner! She graciously agreed to an interview so that all of us could learn more about this fascinating modality and how it can benefit cycle health, fertility, and childbearing.
Rebecca Menning: Hi Anja! Thanks for chatting with me. Would you mind introducing yourself and telling us a bit about what you do?
Anja Farin: I'm Anja Farin, Certified Professional Midwife, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Certified Arvigo® Practitioner with Advanced Training. I’ve been involved in birth and breastfeeding support since 1996, doing independent childbirth classes and doula work, and then eventually becoming a midwife in 2010.
RM: What is Arvigo® Therapy?
AF: Arvigo® Therapy is a type of Maya Abdominal Therapy that has been codified and taught by Dr. Rosita Arvigo, a napropathic doctor who trained with indigenous healers in Belize including midwives and herbal doctors. It works the abdomen as well as back, hips and sacrum to improve flows of blood, lymph and nervous system messages into the abdominal and pelvic regions. It is beneficial for digestive issues,
menstrual issues, preparation for pregnancy, fertility, pregnancy and postpartum recovery. Several other treatment types including herbal remedies from the Rainforest, vaginal steaming, castor oil packs and use of a supportive wrap called a faja may also be included in Arvigo® treatments.
RM: What drew you Arvigo® and what has your training been like?
AF: As a midwife, I had one pretty challenging year with a lot of difficult births, and I started looking for additional training to see if there was something that I could do to help laboring clients have an easier birth. As I read more about Rosita and her adventures as well as the treatment, I began to see how useful it could be for any pregnancy, and especially for postpartum recovery.
My training has been four separate workshops, all of which required traveling. The first class in the series is Self-Care, and I really think it’s a brilliant way to start teaching a healing modality to practitioners. So often, we don’t practice what we preach, and we give and give until we burn out. It’s been great to have this frequent reminder to take care of myself, too.
The second class was an intensive week-long workshop that taught all of the nuts and bolts to become a practitioner. I traveled to New Hampshire in the fall of 2013 for this class. It was held at a beautiful retreat center, with all meals included. It was challenging and incredible to learn the work, and see the dedication of the teachers and the practitioners, and the support of the Arvigo® community.
I stayed in New Hampshire for a second week to do the Advanced Pregnancy training, so that I could use the techniques fully with my clients when I came home. It was a challenging two weeks, with back to back trainings, and my head was FULL at the end, and my hands were schooled.
I had to do 25 case studies before I could move on to Advanced Practice training. I had my 25 case studies done within about a year of my initial training, but there wasn’t much time and money available to take another week to attend another class. I finally was able to go in 2017 and this time I went to Belize, where the classes are held in Rosita’s home, and the students stay in a rustic “camp” near where Rosita first began her apprenticeship with the herbalist, Don Elijio Panti. The jungle is incredible, and strange for this Wisconsin woman, and I felt like I was in story the whole week—with tucans, howler monkeys, coffee trees, and amazing tropical flowers all around. Once again, the Arvigo® community challenged me, held me accountable to my self-care and professional development, and supported me in so many ways. I’m always in awe of the diversity of practitioners—doctors, nurses, massage therapists, midwives, acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc—and the enormous cultural diversity of the community. I learn so much from these practitioners, and am grateful for their encouragement and support.
RM: Who can benefit from Arvigo®?
AF: Really anyone with a belly! Because I’m a midwife, I use the techniques within my scope of practice for pregnancy and postpartum recovery. But many practitioners treat children and adults, for general wellness and to address digestive issues, painful and dysfunctional periods, enlarged prostate, mal-positioned uterus, and even back pain.
RM: What can someone expect from their first appointment?
AF: There’s a detailed intake form that covers health history, life style, and issues the client would like addressed. I review that with the client, then do the treatment, and then teach them the self-care techniques that they can use at home to continue their healing journey. This typically takes about an hour and a half. I do work directly on the client’s abdomen with massage oil, and there are some techniques that are done over the sheet. Clients can disrobe to their comfort level, but it really is best not to be wearing pants with a structured waistband, buttons or zippers. I address contraindications for the work, and modifications that may be appropriate.
RM: Any favorite success stories you'd like to share?
AF: I’ve been doing treatments for all of my home birth clients at most of their prenatal visits for over a year now, and they also get at least two treatments in the postpartum time. My clients who are having their 2nd, 3rd, or 9th babies are saying that they feel really good at the end of their pregnancies, and that they feel that their recovery time has been much easier. I just had a first-time birth-er have a very fast labor, and she pushed out a occiput posterior (sunny side up) baby rather quickly. I joked with her that it was kind of a good thing that the baby was posterior, because I might have missed the birth if he wasn’t.
RM: What else would you like us to know about your Arvigo® practice?
AF: I can treat any pregnant or postpartum clients, regardless of their planned place of birth. In pregnancy, it seems ideal to have multiple treatments prenatally, and then at least two in the six weeks postpartum. I also offer a free treatment for anyone within six weeks of pregnancy loss, to make some time and space for those emotions, and some loving touch centered on the abdomen and uterus.
RM: Where can we learn more?
AF: For information specifically about Arvigo® supported pregnancy, folks can go to my website: https://anjafarin.com/arvigo-supported-pregnancy/
I also have a blog https://anjafarin.com/blog/ where I post information about my practice and Arvigo® work.
General information about Arvigo® Therapy, the history of the work, more informationabout Rosita Arvigo and locating classes and practitioners near you can be found at https://www.arvigotherapy.com/
RM: Wonderful Anja! Thanks for all of this great information!