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The 5 Reasons Why Massage Must Be Part of Your Postpartum Recovery

Early postpartum recovery is a time of healing and adjustment. The recovery period is the 6-week period post-birth however, but the body continues to have metabolic and hormonal changes that can last longer.

I often remind my clients that it has taken them 9 months, or in some cases 10, to allow their baby to develop. A woman’s body changes almost instantly post-birth, and it takes time to return balance to the body, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

And of course, we must acknowledge the biggest challenge that new mums face – how they can look after themselves when they are trying to keep a little human alive. Keep reading to find out why massage forms a vital part of post-partum recovery.

 

The Benefits Of Postnatal Massage

Massage is important for early postnatal recovery. Massage during the postpartum period can even enable a quicker recovery from pregnancy and childbirth and improve the health and wellbeing of mum. Massage forms a vital part of the journey into motherhood.

Some of the benefits of postpartum massage include:

  • Labour recovery, physical and mental exhaustion
  • Alleviating stress, anxiety and depression
  • Rebalancing postural changes and reducing pain
  • Aiding the repair of scar tissue from surgery due to cesarean birth
  • Providing relief from breastfeeding posture and mammary changes

 

Labour Recovery

Let’s face it, whether you have a quick 1-hour labour, or whether your labour went on for days, there is no denying that it has an impact on your body. From the first stages, to the active pushing and expulsion of the placenta, your body had worked hard to endure these phases. Massage in the postpartum period can help the new mother to alleviate feelings of physical and mental exhaustion. Massage is a wonderful way to reduce pregnancy discomforts hat often linger postnatally. Receiving massage is early postpartum can enhance recovery and reduce pelvic ligament and joint strain and pain.

 

Mental Health of Mum and Dad

Massage at any stage of life can reduce stress hormones and increase feelings of relaxation. Postpartum massage shares these benefits. More than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression. Postnatal anxiety is just as common, and many parents experience both anxiety and depression at the same time.

For mums, hormonal changes can be a contributing factor for changes in mental health. While adjusting to new responsibilities and feelings of frustration, stress and overwhelm can impact both parents. Massage can help the new mum and dad alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health postnatally, please contact PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306 or  Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Pregnancy Birth Baby Helpline on 1800 882 436.

 

Postural Rebalance and Reducing Pain

Post-birth, a woman’s posture changes dramatically. Their center of gravity is no longer being thrust forward with the weight of baby. But this does not mean that the body automatically rebalances itself. Massage can assist in realigning and rebalancing postural changes in the glutes, hips and shoulders. Thus, providing relieve form muscular strain and reducing tension headaches, and generalized lower back pain.  Postnatal massage is relaxing and eases muscular strain not only form labour and birth, but also assists in rebalancing the body as it adjusts to new physical demands, such as breastfeeding.

 

Scar Tissue Repair

One of the main focuses of postpartum massage is scar tissue repair and rebalancing the abdominal muscles. After a caesarian birth, some mothers report a loss of feeling and sensation in their abdomen. Postnatal massage focuses on bringing awareness to the abdomen and allowing mum to connect into her body.

Postpartum treatment also works on reducing adhesions surrounding the scar tissue, which can help mum feel freer and reduce abdomen pain. Massage on the caesarian scar tissue can help to heal the deeper layers of the wound and can prevent tissues from sticking together.

If you have had a caesarian, it is recommended to obtain consent and approval from your primary health care professional prior to attending treatment. This ensure that massage is safe, and the journey to healing and rebalancing can begin.

 

Breastfeeding posture

Motherhood brings with it new physical demands. Lifting, carrying and holding a new baby puts strain on the back, while breastfeeding strains the neck, upper back. It can feel like your whole body is a ball of pain and tension.

I often remind my new mums that breastfeeding is a skill that you need to learn, much like how your baby is learning the ways of the world too. Take it easy, take it slow and most of all be kind to yourself. It may take a while to hone this skill. At the end of the day, there is no right way to breast feed. If you choose to do it, or not do it, it doesn’t matter. But your posture is vital whether you are using breast or bottle.

I love this video from What To Expect. It goes through three breastfeeding postures for optimal comfort of mum and baby. What I love most about this video is that mum has supported her feet on a stool and throughout her shoulders are relaxed and she isn’t slouched or hunched over.

Watch It Here

 

Postnatal Massage Recommendations

As with pregnancy massage, postnatal treatment considers the comfort of mum, first and foremost. Prior to treatment, I recommend that mum’s feed or express to increase comfort.

Treatment can be performed side lying, if lying on the stomach causes pain in the abdomen or breasts.

Mum can also bring baby into the treatment if child care is not available. Baby can either be in the pram or on the table with mum if it is suitable.

Appointments can be arranged around feeding and sleep times to make this easier for baby to settle and for mum to relax.

Need an appointment? Book Now!

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Feel the Love with Massage

Can Massage Make You Fall in Love?

You don’t have to be a neuroscientist to know that massage helps us to feel good, boosting our mood and allowing feelings of anxiety and stress to disappear. But can massage increase our feelings of love – towards our partners, ourselves and our new born babies? In this month’s blog, I explore the connection between massage and the hormone called Oxytocin.

 

So, what is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter and plays a part in our social interactions. Commonly known at the “love hormone”, oxytocin is increased when we hug or kiss a loved one. It increases our ability to show empathy and build trust. What’s even more amazing, is that oxytocin plays a role in maternal-infant bonding and breastmilk production.

 

What does this mean for Pregnancy an Postnatal Massage?

Author of The Oxytocin Factor, Dr. Kerstin Unvas Moberg states that massage is one of the most effective ways to increase levels of oxytocin, not only in the person receiving the massage, but the massage therapist as well! (This really explains my HIGH level of job satisfaction!)

Oxytocin can counteract the effects of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to high blood pressure, reduced immune function and depression over extended periods of time.  Even those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have been able to reduce their levels of stress and increase oxytocin levels with massage.

A study by Morhenn et al (2012) found that massage increased the levels of oxytocin and suggest that there may be a connection between social interactions and reduced morbidity and mortality rates. So massage can make you feel good, more connected to your loved ones and the community as well as boosting your health!

A study by Azriani et al (2016) found that there was an increase of breastmilk production when “oxytocin massage” is performed in the days following birth. So this is great news for my mamma’s that want to breastfeed their little ones!

That’s why we feel so good after a massage and why massage should be a part of your health and wellbeing routine as your journey through the stages of pregnancy and into motherhood!

For more information on how to take better care of yourself with massage, head to our blog archive.

If you want to feel the love – book a massage now!

 

 

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/oxytocin

 

Oxytocin: The Hormone of Peace and Trust

 

Morhenn V1, Beavin LE, Zak PJ. (2012) Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans. Altern Ther Health Med.  Nov-Dec;18(6):11-8.

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23251939)

 

Devi Azriani, & Sri Handayani, Politeknik Kesehatan Kemenkes Jakarta I (2016) The Effect of Oxytocin Massage on Breast Milk Production Dam Vol 1, Issue 8, Page 47-50,

(http://www.damaacademia.com/issue/volume1/issue8/DIJR-A-005.pdf)