Having a new baby can be wonderful, but it can also be very challenging and taxing. A woman goes through tremendous physiological, psychological and emotional changes during and after childbirth and while caring for a newborn. Postpartum massage can assist in our return to balance and equilibrium and help manage some of the experiences we face after birth and while caring for a baby. Your new addition isn't the only one in need of care and support, so don't forget about yourself mama! These are some of the ways postpartum massage can help you be healthier and feel better:
Decrease muscle tension resulting from labor and birth. While we are in labor and during birth we may be in or hold positions which are unusual for us. We may be maintaining these positions for extended periods and using some muscles differently or more than we do in our day to day functioning. This can leave us with tension and soreness that make our new duties and regular functioning difficult and painful.
Relieve shoulder, neck and arm tension due to breastfeeding, carrying our new bundle of joy, and, oh yes, don’t forget transporting that awkward car seat. We may be sleeping or lying in strange positions as well. All this can leave us feeling tight, tense and out of alignment. Massage can help decrease the tension in our muscles, work out adhesions that may have developed as a result of this tension, and remind our body of more optimal use and positioning.
Provide emotional support and nurturing. This is a big one. Being a mom can be really hard sometimes and it is extremely helpful to be able to ask for help from others. We can get this support and care from friends, family, and yes, our massage therapist and other health care professionals. Massage therapy doesn’t address only our physical health. It is an effective way to improve our mental and emotional well-being. Pregnancy, labor, delivery and parenting can produce emotions and experiences that become stored in our bodies. Working to acknowledge these feelings and emotions, as well as release them from the areas in which they are kept, can help us to feel and be healthier in body and mind. As a mom, time to ourselves and to care for ourselves can be hard to come by. Starting at the beginning of our child’s life to model good self-care is a gift to ourselves and our children.
Promote the return of regular digestive function. Having our organs displaced and temporarily reshaped by our growing baby can really do a job on our digestion. We can experience heartburn, bloating and constipation during pregnancy and after birth. Abdominal massage during the postpartum period can help things return to where they were before pregnancy, both in function and position.
Encourage pelvic and abdominal organs to return to their pre-pregnancy positioning. As mentioned, organs need to move (and sometimes expand - hello, uterus!) during pregnancy to accommodate a growing baby. This includes both pelvic and abdominal organs. Postpartum abdominal massage can help these organs return to more optimal positioning, reducing the likelihood of unwanted reproductive, menstrual and digestive symptoms after birth.
Promote scar healing after C-section. Abdominal massage during the postpartum period, at the appropriate time, can help heal the scar and the underling fascia and tissue in a more productive way. This work can help our bodies to feel and function better in the future by allowing tissues and organs to move more properly and freely.
Reduce stress and promote better sleep. Massage has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and promote better sleep. During a time when stress and anxiety have likely increased and sleep amount and quality has definitely decreased, we can use all the help we can get to make these aspects of our lives better. We are able to feel better, and enjoy life and our new babies more, when we have better sleep and less anxiety.
Honor yourself by recognizing your body for the tremendous achievement it has accomplished. Pregnancy and birth are incredible feats and you have worked with love and diligence to bring this baby into existence. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate all you and your body have contributed to have your baby here, as part of your family.
Life with a newborn can be a tall order and one that requires all available hands on deck. Your massage therapist who is certified in postpartum massage can be one of those extra sets of hands that help you move more smoothly and with more joy through this chapter of your life. Please feel free to be in touch if you have any questions about postpartum massage or how it can be of help to you. Congratulations on your new addition!
Blessings and Peace,
Photo by Manuel Schinner on Unsplash