Helps restore your body to its pre-pregnancy condition, speeds healing and assists with C-section recovery.
After a woman has experienced labor, she has birthed a baby in her arms, and perhaps a new part of herself aswell. All the attention turns from the mother to the baby. This time is crucial to continue care for the mother as well as she is faced with a whole new set of life challenges and changes both psychologically and physiologically. The post partum period lasts for 6 –8 weeks but subtle transformations last for a year or more. Massage to the new mother supports this new life and its accompanying demands for adaptation.
It is only recently that our society has begun to acknowledge this 40 day period of time after a woman has given birth. This is the fourth trimester of pregnancy. This is the time for her to be taken care of by others; to be cooked for, have the house cleaned, clothes washed and food bought. She needs love and care on all levels so that all she has to do is sleep and feed her baby. Her job is to look after and bond with her baby. She has been opened physically, emotionally and spiritually to birth her baby. This time is for her to slowly and gently close herself energetically and reconnect with her new Self – the new mother.
Massage is a beautiful way to honour the new mother and give her the chance to reconnect with her body; and for her body to receive tender loving care after experiencing labor. Breastfeeding, (if feeding this way) can be very demanding on the mother both as she adjusts to constant nipple stimulation, and with the new postures and holding positions she is now adopting. Neck strain is a common complaint, as with lower back strain.
Benefits of Postpartum Bodywork/Massage
Reduces aching muscles that are sore from the accumulation of pregnancy, delivery and breast feeding. Improves posture and realignment of pelvis. Provides emotional support during a demanding time and reminds the mother to still take time out for herself to find balance, and to honour her own needs. Speed up the recovery for surgical scars from caesarean section and the reduction of adhesions within the abdominal cavity. Increases and strengthens the abdominal cavity again and organs to realign and return to pre baby positions. Benefits breastfeeding by possibly increasing lipids, solids and casein in breast milk and decreasing the chance of clogging and mastitis. Encourage intestinal mobility decreasing constipation. Nurtures the baby as physical touch to the mother leads her to touch her baby with more care, awareness and confidence.
My signature post-natal Hawaiian massage protocol is designed to support the mother and help bring her into balance after birth which provides the nurturing benefits needed by the physical body plus energy work for the mental and emotional parts.
Regardless of the style of massage that you choose, a new mother will reap many benefits from experiencing a massage close to the birth of her baby. She is now a new mother, with new priorities and a new body to adjust to.
Massage is the perfect gift.
Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Massage relaxes muscles, increases circulation and lowers stress hormones, bringing relaxation and stress relief. All body systems appreciate treatment after nine months of change, culminating with the delivery of the greatest miracle in life.
Some women prefer lighter pampering massage while others enjoy deeper techniques to work out the knots. Adding myofascial release and craniosacral therapy reaches deeper into the body for more complete healing. Any of these massage styles will bring relaxation and stress reduction.
Anxiety and depression respond very well to skilled therapy. About two-thirds of new moms experience temporary postpartum blues related to hormonal changes, new responsibilities, and adjustment frustrations. Emotional support and the other benefits of massage can help during this transition.
Postpartum depression is a more serious, longer-lasting condition that affects 10-15% of mothers. Studies show massage to be beneficial for treating postpartum depression.
Residual body aches from pregnancy are normal. Adding breastfeeding and childcare can intensify arm, shoulder and back pain. Massage is an effective holistic approach that relaxes muscles and relieves pain without medication. A skilled therapist may also resolve even associated numbness and tingling. Chronic or severe pain may require multiple sessions for resolution.
Massage greatly improves postpartum hormone balance. Estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are very high during pregnancy and decrease after delivery. Prolactin and oxytocin hormone levels rise to facilitate breastfeeding. Studies indicate that massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Certain essential oils may also bring hormone and mood balance.
Massage also reduces naturally occurring biochemicals associated with depression (dopamine and serotonin) and cardiovascular problems (norepinephrine), supporting Mom with the challenges of motherhood.
Body fluids need to find balance after pregnancy, in which there was an increase of about 50% in fluid volume. Massage increases circulation and lymphatic drainage to facilitate the elimination of excess fluids and waste products. Tissue stimulation assists your body to shift water to the right places.
Swelling is also affected by hormones, which go through major changes after delivery. Massage helps hormone regulation, which also decreases swelling (see Hormone Regulation). Continue your high fluid intake for healing and lactation, even though you may still have swelling.
Most new moms feel exhausted after labor and delivery, complicated with around-the-clock baby care. Massage will ease the fatigue, promote relaxation and assist with sleep. Studies have shown an increase in delta brain waves (those that accompany deep sleep) with massage therapy.
That is why it is very common to fall asleep during a massage. Getting enough sleep is key to postpartum recovery. Everything improves when you feel rested! Arrange some help and get regular massages for better rest and sleep. One study correlated better sleep with losing the baby fat on the tummy!
Breastfeeding is a beautiful gift to your newborn, but can also be a challenge for some moms. Massage therapy relaxes the body, increases circulation and increases milk production. Studies show that massage increases prolactin levels, a lactation hormone. Relaxation in the chest muscles opens the shoulders and improves lactation.
When Can a New Mother Start Postpartum Massage?
You may start receiving postpartum massages as soon as you feel comfortable. Your therapists will position you comfortably if your abdomen or breasts are sore. If you have maternal complications, first consult with your medical provider.
May I Bring Baby to My Appointment?
Many mothers want to leave their baby in good hands and take a break. However, some moms prefer to bring their newborns with them. Your newborns are welcome. Newborns usually sleep a lot and an experienced therapist will adjust the routine to the baby if needed (breastfeeding, etc.). Extra time may be necessary if bringing the little one, so feel free to message in advance.
Aromatherapy during a Postpartum Massage
Treatment with aromatherapy can be an effective therapy for postpartum moms. Essential oils are pure extractions from plants and can assist with relaxation, hormone balance, cleansing, and treatment of anxiety or depression. Most high-quality oils are safe and non-allergenic after pregnancy, but let your therapist know if you are nursing. Most aromatherapy can be diffused into the air, added to lotion or applied topically.
Having a baby changes your body. Some things may never be quite the same again, but other changes don't need to be permanent.
You can tighten your tummy with exercise, for example, and any weight you've gained will gradually drop off if you eat healthily and exercise.
It won't happen overnight. It took nine months to make a baby, and it could take at least that long to get back into shape again.
Physical problems after pregnancy
Some women have physical problems after having a baby.
These can be related to pregnancy or birth, or because of the things you do while caring for young children, such as lifting and bending.
For some problems, you can do a lot to help yourself. For example, if you're experiencing a leaky bladder (incontinence) or a heavy feeling in your perineum (the area between your vagina and anus), you may need to strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina and anus with pelvic floor exercises.
Back pain can often be helped by exercise and learning to look after your back, too.
If something's bothering you, don't hesitate to ask your GP or health visitor for help at any time. They can advise you and refer you to a specialist if necessary.
Your postnatal check
Your postnatal check at around six to eight weeks after the birth is a good time to talk to your GP about any physical or mental health problems you've had since the birth.
Separated stomach muscles (diastasis recti)
It's common for the two muscles that run down the middle of your stomach to separate during pregnancy. This is sometimes called diastasis recti, or divarication.
The amount of separation varies from one woman to another. It happens because your growing womb (uterus) pushes the muscles apart, making them longer and weaker.
Most women don't notice any problems as their stomach muscles separate in pregnancy. But you might notice a bulge developing down the front of your bump, above and below your belly button.
After you have had your baby, you can check the size of the separation with this simple technique:
Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your shoulders off the floor slightly and look down at your tummy. Using the tips of your fingers, feel between the edges of the muscles, above and below your belly button. See how many fingers you can fit into the gap between your muscles. Do this regularly to check that the gap is gradually decreasing.
The separation between your stomach muscles will usually go back to normal by the time your baby is eight weeks old. If the gap is still obvious at eight weeks, the muscles may still be long and weak. This can put you at risk of back problems.
Self Care Exercises:
Regular pelvic floor and deep stomach muscle exercises can help to reduce the size of the separation between your stomach muscles. It's also important to stand up tall and be aware of your posture now you're no longer pregnant.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises
Pelvic floor muscle exercises strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina and back passage. This can help to stop incontinence, treat prolapse and make sex better, too.
You can do this exercise lying down, sitting or standing. With practice, it can be done anywhere and at any time – even while you're watching TV:
Squeeze and draw in your back passage as if you're holding in wind.Squeeze around your vagina and bladder tube (urethra) as if you're stopping the flow of urine or squeezing during intercourse. Now relax. This is a short squeeze. Rest for a second, then repeat these squeezes until you feel the muscles get tired. After a short rest, squeeze again as above. This time, hold the squeeze for as long as you can, but no longer than 10 seconds, then relax. It's important to keep breathing normally while you do these exercises. Make sure you don't pull in your stomach or squeeze your buttocks when you squeeze.Aim to build up to 10 repeats of each exercise, four to six times a day.
In the past, women were taught to practice these squeezes while having a wee. This isn't the best way to do these exercises as you may not empty your bladder completely.
Sitting on the toilet can be a good reminder to do your exercises, though. Just make sure you do them after you've finished.
These exercises can help you tone up your stomach muscles:
Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent let your tummy relax and breathe in gently as you breathe out, gently draw in the lower part of your stomach like a corset, narrowing your waistline squeeze your pelvic floor muscles at the same timehold for a count of 10, breathing normally, then gently release repeat up to 10 times
Ways to ease back pain
These practical tips may help to relieve an aching back:
While feeding your baby, always sit with your back well supported and straight. Put a small pillow or cushion behind your waist to support your lower back. Make sure your feet can reach the floor. Kneel or squat to do low-level jobs, such as bathing your baby or picking things up off the floor. Avoid bending your back. Make your knees do the work instead. Change nappies on a raised surface. You could kneel on the floor next to a sofa or bed. Never leave your baby unattended on a raised surface, in case they fall off.
To lift heavy objects, such as a baby car seat or an older child, bend your knees, keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body. Make your thigh muscles work as you lift. Squeeze your pelvic floor and deep stomach muscles as you prepare to lift.Keep your back straight when you push your pram or buggy. Alternatively, carry your baby in a well-fitting sling.