The birth of a baby is also the birth of a new mother. As they embark on this new journey, they need a regular dose of relaxation which can be effectively provided by “postnatal massage sessions”.
Within the first few weeks of childbirth, almost every new mother and baby are started on a daily routine of massage. Let us try to understand the importance of this postpartum ritual.
Massage for Babies
It is an ancient art that connects the parents deeply with their baby. It helps them to understand their baby’s nonverbal language and respond to her with love and respectful listening. This is the main purpose of infant massages and not the strengthening of their bones and muscles, as portrayed in many advertisements. Massage is simply ‘touch therapy’ and what a baby needs is a ‘loving but a firm touch’ (very different from ‘the rigorous hard massage’ enjoyed by the adults). Hence it is better for a parent – mother or even the father – to take up this responsibility.
There are many other advantages of infant massages. For instance, they:
- Encourage deep and sound sleep.
- Enhance functioning of the immune system.
- Facilitate food absorption resulting in better weight gain.
- Help to relieve colic and congestion.
Massage for Mothers
Postnatal massage in the first few weeks after giving birth is a wonderful experience for the mother to recharge her mind and body for the new challenge of motherhood. After a natural delivery, a mother can receive a massage as soon as she feels comfortable. For a caesarean delivery however, it is better to get a green signal from your doctor before beginning the massage.
Some may prefer a light soothing massage, while some might opt for a deep tissue massage to relieve the knots in the muscles. Also do remember that vigorous massaging on the breasts in anticipation of an engorgement is not essential. It has to be a relaxing experience for the mother. She can decide the duration of each massage session according to her comfort.
There are several other benefits too. A postnatal massage:
- Reduces the tension in the neck, back and shoulder muscles which get overworked due to prolonged breastfeeding sessions.
- Strengthens and tones the abdominal muscles.
- Helps to reduce postpartum anxiety and stress.
Finally, it is essential to understand that massages when done in a scientific manner – with proper strokes and pressure as required in different areas of the body – give maximum benefit to the mother and the baby. Hence get a trained individual to do the job and just enjoy the experience.
Dr. Preeti Gangan
MBBS, DCH, IBCLC
Paediatrician and Lactation Consultant