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After a long and tiring day, all we want to do is just lay in our bed and fall asleep within seconds. When in bed, we often think how wonderful it would be if we could get a relaxing full body massage. If one long day can get us tired, imagine how tired a new mom would be. If you are a new mom, we are sure that you quite well remember how surprised you were with all the transformations your body went through.
Giving birth, on the other hand, is another roller coaster ride altogether. Whether it is a natural birth or a C-section birth, delivering a baby is never a bed of roses. So, for a woman to heal and recover after giving birth, massages are extremely important. It is necessary for the baby as well. Read this article to find out why massages are helpful for a new mom and her baby as well as the necessary precautions that need to be taken.
What is a postnatal massage
A postnatal massage as the name suggests is a full body massage for both the mother and the newborn baby. A 40-day massage is recommended, so that the mother can help her body heal and go back to its pre-pregnancy state and for the normal growth and development of the baby. Massages are necessary as it increases blood flow and releases hormones called “endorphins” which is responsible for supplementing a feeling of relaxation.
Benefits of post-natal massage for mothers
#1. Relieves pain in the muscles
The pain and cramps caused by delivering a baby will last for a couple of weeks and it gets worse if you need to hold your baby for long periods of time. This affects the physical strength of the mother. A relaxing massage can help lessen muscular and joint pains. The new mother needs a lot of physical and emotional support and a postnatal massage is very helpful in providing the same for her.
#2. Helps the breasts produce more milk
Getting a regular massage also helps the mother to produce sufficient milk to cater to the growing hunger pangs of the baby. Massage makes the mother’s body releases a hormone called oxytocin which helps to release more milk from her breasts. Massaging helps in opening any blocked ducts or clots in the breasts that occur during breastfeeding.
#3. Helpful for C-section delivery
While postnatal massages are generally helpful for all new moms and babies, it is more so for women who delivered their baby via C-section. Regular massages speed up the process of recovery after a C-section. Massaging the area around the scar gently also makes it heal faster and the scar to lighten over time.
#4. Helps in weight loss
Hormonal imbalances during pregnancy may lead to water retention which causes joints to swell up. Massaging these areas improves circulation and helps reduce the excess of fluid and toxins. Massages can help reduce your tummy by working on the muscles in that area and improving blood flow.
#5. Tightens the skin
Post delivery, a mother’s skin becomes loose and hangs. Regular massage helps to tone the body and also helps to shed the excess weight. Any discolouration of the skin that might have occured during pregnancy will also gradually fade away with the help of regular oil massages. As blood flow is also improved, skin becomes healthier.
#6. Helps in reducing postpartum depression
According to American Pregnancy Association, there have been studies that have shown that massaging as therapy works for postpartum depression as well. Many women experience temporary postpartum sadness and depression because of hormonal changes, added responsibilities and not being able to adapt well to change. Massage as therapy can help women dealing with feelings of being lost and feeling helpless.
Benefits of massage for the baby
#1. The baby is kept well-fed
As massaging a woman’s breasts eases out all lumps and supports the production of breastmilk, one can rest assured that the baby is getting fed well. Exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first six months will keep him safe from diseases and illnesses and help in his normal growth and delivery.
#2. All round development of the baby
Massaging the newborn helps to improve his sleep, tone the body, boost the immune system, improve blood circulation, and helps in the development of the central nervous system.
#3. Strengthens bonds
Babies love to be touched and caressed. They feel secure when the mother massages them. It helps the baby to bond with the mother.
#4. Relieves colic and gas
Massaging the baby helps to prevent the formation of gas and abdominal pains. Gently massage your baby in the stomach using circular motions with your palms. This helps him pass gas and feel light and easy.
#5. Clears blocked nose
Blocked nose in newborn babies is quite a common problem and mothers are often worried about how gravely it may affect the health of their babies. Massage also helps to provide relief from congestion and aids in the drainage of sinuses.
#6. Motor development
Massage aids in the motor development of the baby. Regular massage helps to strengthen the muscles of the baby. You can use coconut oil, olive oil or any oil recommended by your pediatrician.
Precautions to take while massaging if you had C-Section
- Allow your cut to heal completely. Although most oils and lotions are considered to be safe, some may cause infections in the affected area.
- For the first few weeks avoid getting the abdomen area massaged and stick to just the head, arms, legs and back. For the back massage, lie down sideways. Don’t put any pressure on the stomach.
- After 6-7 weeks, the scar would have healed. After this, you can lie on your back and get your stomach massaged. Start by massaging the areas around the scar.
- Don’t get your massage done from just about anyone. Opt for a trained professional or a trusted Maalishwali.
- You can also consult your doctor to figure out the frequency of the massages you need.
- If you have any rashes or skin infection, refrain from massages. If could only aggravate the condition (applicable for normal delivery also).
- Avoid massages if you have a hernia or high blood pressure (applicable for normal delivery also).
Precautions to take while massaging your newborn
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- Before massaging your baby, please ensure that the room is made comfortable. It shouldn’t be too bright nor too dark.
- Make sure that the baby is not too full nor too hungry during the massage.
- If your baby starts crying when being massaged in one position, try switching positions to make him more comfortable.
- If you have heated oil to massage your baby, test some oil in your own skin first. If it is too hot, it will burn the baby’s skin. It is important to remember that a baby’s skin is three times thinner than an adult’s.
- Don’t let the oil get into the baby’s ears or nose.
- Massage your baby’s body very gently. Don’t pull his hands or legs roughly. Never try to pull his finger like we do in adult massages.
- Keep the massage brief.
- Use mostly your fingertips to massage your baby.