Having a baby is one of the most wondrous and momentous times in any woman’s life. Creating a child is one of the most miraculous achievements of humanity and a very special period of your life where your body goes through a lot of changes. Not only does your body change during pregnancy, but after your baby is born as well.
The postpartum period, sometimes referred to as the fourth trimester, is just as different and changing as the ten months that you were pregnant.
During the weeks following birth, you may experience swelling, soreness, hormone fluctuation and trouble sleeping. These are all very frequent symptoms of the postpartum period of pregnancy and postpartum massage can actually be a wonderful way of managing these symptoms!
Postpartum massage can also help with depression, breastmilk production, and speeding up the healing process which is particularly beneficial for new moms that had C-sections or complications during childbirth.
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Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Pregnancy is hard on your body. This is no surprise or secret to anyone. During your pregnancy, you probably gained at least 15 pounds, suffered from some joint pain, poor circulation and swelling at some point, and had your stress hormones raise significantly.
The process of delivery, in general, is very taxing on your body and muscles, especially the hips and back.
Getting postpartum massage can help relax your body, increase circulation, and lower stress hormones that are raging through your body after nine long months of constant change.
Americanpregnancy.org advocates for using postpartum massage to combat the baby blues that about 2/3 of all new moms get postpartum. Massage can also help with anxiety and depression that can have heightened symptoms postpartum.
Childbirth and pregnancy can come with its fair share of aches and pains. If you have a C-section or complications during pregnancy, you may be experiencing more pain than others do postpartum.
Many women who breastfeed also experience more muscle and skeletal pain in the neck, shoulder, and upper back. Massage is a very effective tool for keeping tension out of muscles and relieving pain without relying on medication.
Craniosacral therapy, or light head massage and temple massage, is a very effective technique for relieving headaches, relaxation, and promoting sleep as well. Massage can also be done to the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
One of the often overlooked, benefits of postpartum massage is hormone regulation.
Massage can reduce the production of chemicals that are associated with depression—dopamine and serotonin. This can greatly reduce the risk and help manage the symptoms of postpartum depression and the baby blues.
Massage also promotes endorphins which help to strengthen us emotionally and make us feel more upbeat and happy.
During pregnancy, the amount of fluid in your body increased by 50%. After childbirth, that fluid needs to exit and your body needs to finds a balance of fluid again. Not all of the fluid will exit during childbirth and one of the most common challenges women face postpartum is that of swelling.
Massage will increase your circulation and lymphatic drainage so that your tissue and muscle can eliminate excess fluid and waste quickly. Stimulating your tissue through massage will allow your body to shift fluid to the right places to reduce and relieve areas of swelling.
One of the things new moms most wish for is a good night’s sleep and that is something a massage can give you. Labor and delivery can leave you exhausted mentally and physically, especially if you had a complicated or abnormally long birth.
Many studies have shown that massage promotes relaxation, eases fatigue, and assisting in sleep.
Breastfeeding is recommended by nearly every pediatrician worldwide. If you plan to nurse, massage can make the process much easier for you, especially in the first few weeks. Massage therapy can help with increasing milk production because prolactin, the lactation hormone, has been shown to increase during the massage, perhaps due to increased circulation.
Massage also helps the chest muscles relax and opens the shoulder muscles to improve the lactation process. There are even massage techniques that lactation nurses can teach you that can relieve breast pain from engorgement, to improve infant latching and suckling, and to decrease breast milk sodium.
When Can You Get Postpartum Massage?
You can get a Postpartum massage as soon as you are feeling comfortable. There are massage therapists that will even come to your hospital room or to your home right after childbirth to provide services.
If you are unsure, had any sort of medical complications, or had a C-section, or have any other kind of incisions, stitching or special care needed. Consult with your nurses and/or physician first.
There are some risks to Postpartum massage such as swelling becoming worse, blood clots becoming loose, haemorrhaging, pain, nausea, adverse reaction to essential oils, rash, headache. You should always check with your doctor first before starting a postpartum massage program.
Aromatherapy and Massage
Many massage therapists and other holistic medicine practitioners use aromatherapy as an effective tool to help postpartum moms relax, to relieve stress and pain, among a variety of other uses.
Essentials oils are pure extractions from plants, flowers, seeds and other natural elements that can also help with hormone balance, and the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Essential Oils have been used in aromatherapy for hundreds of years and are non-allergenic after pregnancy when diffused into the air, but let your aromatherapist know if you are nursing. Some oils may not be safe or may be questionable to be mixed into lotions that they used on your skin.
Picking a Good Massage Therapist
When choosing a good massage therapist, you will want to make sure that they are licensed. Every state has laws that require licensure to operate as a massage therapist.
To obtain a license, the therapist would have had to have gone to a school. Most schools will give students who specialized in pregnancy and postpartum massage a certificate showing that they completed those specific courses as continuing education.
Most big cities have businesses and salons that offer massages services to licensed therapists. You also may be able to be referred to a massage therapist by your physician that would be covered by your health insurance.
If you are shopping around online for a salon or massage business, make sure that you read reviews, especially more recent ones and don’t hesitate to call the places you are interested in or email, and ask questions if you have any.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are going to want your postpartum massage therapist to be someone that you are absolutely comfortable with and can relax with.
Postpartum massage therapy can help with so many of the symptoms of childbirth that take away from the amazing experience that the first few days of your baby’s life should be about.
Taking 30 minutes out of your day to have a massage therapist come to the hospital or your home to massage away the aches and pains, speed up the healing process, help you relax, rub away the depression and fatigue and loosen you up can make a huge difference in your day to day life.