- Karen Stoner, LMT
Benefits of Postnatal Massage
Pregnancy and childbirth is not easy. A woman goes through a mind-bending amount of physical, hormonal, and emotional changes over the course of the pregnancy and the birth process. Despite what our society portrays, women do not just snap back to normal after the baby is out. Her body is usually still physically, hormonally, and emotionally beat up and takes a long time to recover back to normal - and it is usually a completely different 'normal' than it was before. Postnatal massage is an excellent way to help mothers recover from the physical and emotional strain of childbirth. It can also provide much-needed support and relaxation during the postpartum period. Massage is a simple and very effective tool that has many benefits to new mothers.
Physical Benefits of Postnatal Massage: Postnatal massage can help reduce pain, stiffness and swelling in muscles, ligaments and joints that may have been affected by pregnancy and childbirth. It can help the uterus shrink back to it's normal size more easily and can help restore healthy circulation by helping the body safely move around and remove the excess blood and lymphatic fluids that were produced during the pregnancy. It can also help restore proper alignment of the spine, neck, ribs, and pelvis, and aid in recovery from weakened abdominal and pelvic muscles. Massage can also help reduce and balance hormones and relax the nervous system, which can help with the body's ability to heal and re-regulate itself.
Emotional Benefits of Postnatal Massage: The emotional benefits of postnatal massage can be just as important as the physical ones. Massage can help with emotional issues such as loneliness, postpartum depression and anxiety. It can help to relax mothers, ease tension, and reduce stress. It can also help to improve mood and provide a sense of inner peace and wellbeing. Plus, an hour of quiet, not having to worry about the new baby, and possibly get some uninterrupted sleep can do wonders for her emotional health.
Postnatal massage can be an invaluable source of support for new mothers. It can help reduce pain, relax the body and mind, and provide emotional support during the postpartum period. After all that moms go through to bring a baby into the world, a massage is more than a "nice treat" - it can be a valuable part of a mother's healing and recovery.
Therapist's note: Many women ask me, "How soon after delivery can [she] get a postnatal massage?" There is no one-size-fits-all answer. In some cultures, mothers are massaged throughout their pregnancies, through all of labor and childbirth, and are receiving massages nearly immediately after delivery. If there are any complications that require surgical or other interventions, massage may not be advised until certain conditions are resolved. So my answer to that question is simply this: If there are no complications with the delivery that doctors are not intently monitoring, a woman can receive a postnatal massage as soon as she is comfortable with it. Again, this seems ambiguous, however sometimes after giving birth, some women can not bear the thought of being touched for a while until their hormones calm down and they start to recover, while other women are ready for a massage immediately. Sometimes if there has been a C-section, women don't feel comfortable being touched or moving around on a massage table until her doctor gives her the go-ahead to resume normal habits, which is usually around 6 weeks or so, but can really be longer or shorter depending on how she feels. No matter when she feels she is ready, the postpartum period can truly last up to 12 months after giving birth (despite what our labor laws say about being "recovered and back to normal in 6 weeks") so whenever a new mom is ready for massage, it is there for her. - Karen
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