We’ve all heard about pregnancy massage- a wonderful experience to make an expectant mum feel pampered…and to help alleviate the aches and pains associated with carrying and growing a baby for 9 months. But what about postnatal massage? Yes it really is a thing! And in my eyes, just as important, if not more so, than a pregnancy massage!
In fact, in some cultures it is considered an integral part of postnatal recovery. For example, in India, following birth, a new mother enters a period known as Jaappa, which is a confinement period lasting 40 days. During this time, the woman is encouraged to rest and eat certain foods to help with recovery and milk production. They also receive a massage. Every day. For 40 days!
In our Western cultures, the postnatal period is almost entirely focused on the baby. We often forget what a mother has gone through, both carrying and birthing a baby, and with the media spotlights on celebrities who have given birth, there is a lot of pressure to bounce back and get on with looking after your new baby. But we should be giving more focus to the woman’s recovery, ensuring she gets the right help and support to recover from her birth, even if it was an ‘uncomplicated’ experience. After all, how should she be expected to care for a new life if she is not allowed to recover herself? I believe postnatal massage from a clinical massage therapist who understands the complexities of postnatal recovery should be high on the list of every woman’s post birth recovery plan.
Many people believe that having a massage in the postnatal period is a ‘nice thing’, but just that, and perhaps one they don’t have time for. But why is it important to receive therapeutic massages after you’ve had a baby?
It will help alleviate aches and pains left over from pregnancy
Many women will have experienced some kind of discomfort during pregnancy, be it lower back pain, pelvic girdle pain(including SPD), sore legs from carrying the extra weight,carpal tunnel syndrome or something else. Some women may find that they continue to experience these discomforts into the postnatal period. Clinical massage can help.
It will help alleviate the aches and pains from being a new mum!
As a new mum (or even not so new mum), we adopt a stereotypical posture of rounded shoulders, head forward, often bottoms will be tucked in in a guarded position, or sticking out with lower back arched as was adopted during pregnancy. Pushing prams, feeding baby, cradling baby, remaining in an awkward position for a length of time because ‘that’s how baby fell asleep and if I move she’ll wake’! Leaning over the cot, leaning over the changing table. All these things and more take a toll on the body and will often cause it to hurt! Clinical massage can help.
It will help with the recovery process
Having some time to yourself, 90 minutes without baby, relaxing, perhaps even drifting off. Some YOU time. This can be so important to put your body in an optimal place to allow it to heal.
It will help with diastasis recti (tummy separation) and that ‘mummy tummy’
If you have been left with a tummy separation following your pregnancy, restrictions in muscles and connective tissue can hinder the healing process. Releasing these stuck muscles, along with receiving the correct exercise advice, can help to strengthen the core, bring the muscles together and functioning correctly, and this in turn can help to reduce that ‘mummy tummy’.
It will help with pelvic floor dysfunction, including incontinence
The pelvic floor is an integral part of the core system and clinical massage can help it work more effectively, by releasing restrictions in muscles and on C-section scaring. As part of my BTEC Level 6 qualification, I researched the effect of clinical massage on urinary incontinence in postnatal women and in a small study, found significant positive results- women reported less leaking and felt they had a better quality of life following 6 sessions.
It will help with recovery from C-section surgery
When a wound heals, scar tissue is laid down in a haphazard way, and can build up and stick to surrounding tissues causing pain and dysfunction. Clinical massage techniques can help the tissue lay down in a more orderly and functional way, reduce restrictions and also improve the appearance of scar tissue.
It will help you relax and sleep better
Taking some time out from the busy schedule of being a mum can be really important to help you turn off for a while. This will have an impact on your general mood and wellbeing, and will have a positive knock on effect on your sleep. We all function so much better when we’re relaxed and get some sleep. You might also find that if you are more relaxed, baby will also be relaxed and sleep better too! Bonus!
It will give you some ‘you time’
When was the last time you did something for YOU? Not for the baby/your children…YOU! We, as mums, spend so much time focused on our children, running around after them, making sure they have what they need, we often forget ourselves. What better way to turn off than to have some well deserved ‘you’ time than a good massage?
When can I have a massage following birth?
As soon as you are ready! If you have given birth by c-section, you will not be able to have work done on the wound until it has fully healed.
My children are no longer babies; will massage still help?
Yes! Once postnatal, always postnatal. And if you are experiencing any of the problems mentioned above, just because you no longer have a newborn, it doesn't mean it's too late to get help.