Massage therapy has proven benefits when we talk about neonatal care. Not only it is the newborn who needs special care for growth and development but also care needs to be taken of the new mother who is going through drastic changes both physically and emotionally. Many of the mothers and their newborns may have experienced some high-risks during pregnancies and some may have gone through premature birth. There are even chances with infants to be born with some sickness. Thus there could be varied conditions that both child and mother would be going through and their situations vary. Massage therapies included in their daily routine show great improvements both in child and his/her mother.
Benefits of Massage and Neonatal Care:
Infants can benefit from massage therapy similar to how adults gain benefit with gentle hands movements. Just like an adult loves the soothing feeling that is witnessed during massage therapies, your newborn baby will also find that gentle touch on hands on his/her body quite relaxing.
Let us learn about some impressive benefits of massage pampering for both newborn child and new mother.
Massage for Newborns:
- Improves their bonding with his/her mother through physical touch.
- Help babies to relax.
- Improves gastrointestinal system of child.
- Improves their sleep time.
- Give them awareness of their bodies.
- Enhances the growth in terms of weight.
- Develops their brains.
- Relieves discomfort that is because of teething problem.
- Enhances development of muscles.
Massage for New Mothers:
- Relieves any anxiety or depression that may be because of difficulties in pregnancy, due to hormonal changes or because of changes in your lifestyle with addition of new responsibilities. Massage enhances relaxation in new mothers.
- Various pains are associated with pregnancy, delivery and childcare after birth, massage helps in reducing and relieving those pains.
- Massage gives you regulation of hormones and boosts your mood.
- Relaxation associated with massage therapy releases fatigue and improves sleep.
- Reduces swelling.
- Gentle massage internally heals and helps in speedy recovery.
- Enhances support for healthy breastfeeding.
When to Start Massage?
Massage for infants can be started gently from day 1 of bringing your child to your home. This light massage can be provided by mother herself or you can encourage dad to take this opportunity to strengthen his bond with the child. Any other family member may also give newborn a gentle massage at home.
Best Time for Massage:
Some key points to remember as you are beginning massage of your newborn is that this massage should be given at a time when you are not in rush to do something or reach somewhere. This session should be completely relaxing. Make sure that your child is not hungry or is too full. Hungry child may not stay in a quiet state to enjoy massage with empty stomach and if he is too full he may spit up. You may consider giving newborn a massage on daily basis at the same time so that it becomes part of his routine. You may do it at bedtime or before bath or anytime that seems suitable for massage giver and the baby.
For New Mothers:
New mothers can start getting massage when they feel comfortable about it. However some care and consultation for doctors would be required especially in case of some maternal complications or caesarean section.
Precautions with Caesarean:
Aftermath of Caesarean (major surgery) would be painful and recovery time would be more than normal delivery. For C-sections it is important to consider beginning massage when your wound gets completely healed. Healing may require a time frame of one or two weeks or more. Any pressure applied before your scar has healed may cause problems. So before your start massage therapy after this major surgery, it is best to consult your doctor to make that you are in a condition for starting massages.
When to avoid massage?
A massage therapy can be risk when you have one of these or any other complications:
- High blood pressure
- Issues with skin like blisters, eczema or any other complication.
Tips on Massage for Infants:
Newborns and childcare is something that could be taken lightly but it is something that needs you to take additional care of. Newborns can include infants with varied health conditions. You may have a case where infant is at risk medically and some may have no complications at all. Thus it is important to ensure sure that you have a sense of responsibility towards your newborn and gives special attention to his individual needs and condition. Massaging your body should not be something that you should stress about and it would definitely not be as demanding as massaging an adult. Just spend around 10-20 minutes for a massage session with your new born.
Some tips to remember as you begin massage session for your infant:
- You should get some basic training before beginning massage therapy for your child. If you are seeking help of a professional massage therapist, you should make sure that he/she is trained specially to work with infants and young children. Any massage therapist expert in dealing with adult clients may not be a suitable therapist for your baby.
- When massaging your babies, constantly connect with them. You can connect with eyes, smile or speaking to the baby. Look for signs that your baby may be giving and it would tell you if the baby is enjoying this session. Some clues would be smiling, babbling etc. Sometimes you may witness your baby to begin crying, not connecting during massage or may begin to turn away. This means that your baby might not be ready for this session and would like to disengage with it. Do not force if the experience is getting unpleasant and if baby is not ready for it.
- Make massaging a session that is fun time for you and baby together. No newborns may be following the routine you are trying to set for them during the first week or month. With time they may get used to of a proper schedule. Do not force this session even if your infant is not interested in getting undressed for massage. He/she may be hungry or sleepy or there can be other things that he might be interested in at the time of massage. So make sure that you don’t force but rather be flexible and make this session a fun and learning time for you and baby. You can begin singing along as you massage and your baby may enjoy listening to a rhyme as you work to relax his/her body.
- Hygiene is most important when you are dealing with young children. Before you begin the session, make sure that you have followed basic hygiene methods. It is extremely important when you are dealing with infants. Wash your hands before giving them a massage because infants are more vulnerable to catching infections.
- Have everything that you might need during massage in your hands. This may include a baby oil or lotion (depends upon your preference) specially designed for infants, floor pads, tissue papers, towel etc. If you would be doing massage right before bath, make sure that all the supplies needed for bath are also prepared well ahead.
- Remember that you should be gentle when massaging an infant. Body of an infant doesn’t need pressure or strokes with strength but light movements with fingers and hands would work well for your baby.
Tips on Massage for New Mothers:
It is important for new mothers to get in to the routine of daily massage. You might be thinking that how can you take out time for a therapy when you have an additional responsibility of taking care of your new baby apart from all other work. It may seem a bit difficult but the results are so rewarding that you must take out time for it. You can:
- Ask someone to take care of the baby as you get massage. This person could be your partner or any other trusted member of your family. Make sure that the person is someone who is reliable and you should not be worrying about your baby during massage.
- Schedule your massage at home so that it would be more convenient for you with new baby. Just make sure that you have massage scheduled at a time when your newborn is fed well and would not need you for at least an hour or so.
- If you cannot find any massage therapist to come to your home daily, schedule appointment for going out for massage at times when you think your baby will be taking a nap. Best would be to set for weekends so that dad can take the responsibility if not every day.
As massage is one of the ways of making these new mothers feel good and thus this session should be one that makes them feel comfortable and pampered. Some tips to remember for massage session for new mothers:
- Position of new mother during massage session should be such that she feels comfortable and safe. Positioning may vary according to treatment that she will be given or according to her specific health conditions. Some may like lying down on their sides or on their back over massage table. In order to have massage applied to all the affected, paining and swelled areas such as back, legs, shoulders etc., position is considered quite important.
- Some women experience problems of misaligned pelvis and this could lead to problems with further complications. Massage should be applied with a focus on balancing muscles around pelvic and hip area.
- Back, shoulder and neck pains are often common complaints of a new mother. Discomfort with these areas is further enhanced in the process of taking care of the baby such as lifting the baby, nursing etc. Massage should be focused to take care of those areas along with other parts of a mother’s body.
- During and after pregnancy, new mothers also experience fatigue in legs and aching feet. Lymphatic massage technique should be used on those areas in order to improve circulation and for reducing swelling. It would be a good practice to elevate legs of your client during massage sessions so that drainage is improved. The intense process of labor may have caused some clotting in her legs. Avoid deep pressure or massaging that area.
- Sessions of massage therapy over breasts is not included in a regular therapy however you can teach your clients some simple techniques that she could apply herself in other to improve any discomfort that she may be experiencing with her breasts.
Some Precautions with C-Section or other Medical Complications:
- For C-Section deliveries, it is important that therapist should try and stay away from scar and lower abdomen area where the wound lies. Any kind of pressure applied on that area can cause problems.
- For Caesareans, massage should be limited to arms, head and feet as these areas are safe.
- The wound deep inside their bodies begin to heal after 5 to 6 weeks of delivery. It is said that a light special massage around the scar after a surgery can even enhance recovery of wound. However your therapist should be expert at this kind of massage.
- According to others, scar massage should begin during the first 2 months of delivery.
- It is highly recommended that you take approval of your doctor for any kind of massage for new mothers who experienced C-Section surgical delivery.
Massage is something that would not only be beneficial for babies but it enhances health of new mothers physically as well as emotionally. Massage therapies prove magical for women during pregnancy and after birth too. A regular massage of new mother and baby would make both of them calmer. It would improve their bonding. New mother experiencing a relaxing massage everyday would feel more confident about her physical and emotional health and would be able to take care of her newborn in a better manner. Newborns and young children who are massaged daily show great improvements in their physical, emotional and neurological development. This one experience for both mother and child on a daily basis could be the most fulfilling experience for family.