The vast physical effort of making and growing a baby is complete. The marathon of labour is over. There is a new life in the world who is completely dependent on you.
Whilst your body experienced enormous changes during pregnancy, labour and the birth itself, experts are starting to acknowledge that it can take about the same time again (up to a year) for your body to return to ‘normal’. Firstly please let me explain that this isn’t ‘pre-pregnancy normal’ … they are meaning the ‘new normal’.
“For many generations, new mothers have been given daily, full-body massages during the first few weeks after the delivery.” ~ BabyCentre website
OK so the thought of having sufficient time to set aside to enable a massage a day might be laughable, please recognise the importance of self-care at this incredibly precious time. You have a new role, and this one doesn’t come with a job description, an instruction book, or note from the previous incumbent. Actually, scrap that. EVERYONE has an opinion on what you should and shouldn’t be doing, feeling, experiencing, buying, trying. There are endless books, DVDs, websites, YouTube videos that you can expose yourself to. But I am stunned how a lot less sleep, lack of confidence in what you are doing, the enormity of the new role can be compounded by these ‘helpful hints & tips’ to enable vulnerable women to spiral into a pit of self-doubt, fear and almost blind panic.
Oh, and your mind & body ache with the enormity of it all.
You do not have to leave your little one behind to come and have a massage. Some women are not comfortable lying on their front for quite some time after birth, whether they had a C-section or not, whether they are breast feeding or not. Partly as a result of this, I continue to work on the futon until you feel ready to have work on the table, predominantly working with you in the side lying position, although we can now also work with you lying flat on your back. Working on the futon means that your baby can either (hopefully) settle into the carrier you brought them in, or they can lie beside you, nursing if required, on the futon, and when you roll over, they can stay exactly where they are with you positioning yourself around them … and me then around you.
Some new mothers prefer to leave their baby freshly fed and changed with their partner or other trusted family member, to allow them to really focus on themselves, to rest, to be a whole person independent of any other being for a short while.
Physically, when I massage women in the post natal period, we are typically thinking about easing muscle strain from the birth, loosening any tension that may be developing in the shoulders with the vast amounts of feeding, lifting, carrying that you are suddenly doing, some women really like work on their abdomen, to help their tummy recover from the shock, stretch and strain, and where there may have been a Caesarean then we can also undertake some scar massage, and I can help teach some gentle techniques for use at home.
Emotionally, whether your baby comes with you or not, I provide a sanctuary from the outside world, from the expectations, judgements and opinions that appear rife. Enabling you to reconnect with yourself, and your baby in an oasis of calm, provides you with an opportunity to enjoy the presence of your baby anew.
Oh and did you know that some experts reckon that massage is an excellent stress buster and mood elevator and may therefore be found to be helpful if you are experiencing the ‘baby blues’ or post natal depression.
There are some suggestions and guidelines which I feel are very appropriate when it comes to massage in the post natal period:
- Typically it is most prudent to wait for about two weeks post birth before having a massage - this is because any typical postnatal complications, infections, fevers etc usually occur in this time frame. However, if you would prefer a massage before this, please do contact me to discuss.
- I will complete a full consultation with you about your birth and the post-natal period so far - please be as specific as you feel you can, both about the physical aspects and the emotions. I need to know as much information as possible to help provide the best possible care to you.
- If you experienced any medical complications, then you may prefer to wait until you’ve had your ‘all clear’ from the midwife before having a massage.
- If you have had a Caesarean section, we will be unlikely to consider scar massage until at least 6 weeks post delivery.
It is entirely up to each individual client how long we work with ‘post natal massage’ appointments before returning to ‘massage therapy’ appointments and is dependent upon your comfort when it comes to lying on your tummy and chest. Post natal appointments are completed on the futon which makes rolling over from side to side feel very much more secure, whilst massage therapy appointments take place on the table. Having said this, I do undertake a considerable amount of side lying work on my table with non-natal clients.
To massage or not to massage
I do repeat this on a regular basis, but I believe it to be very true. If massage is a part of your life, even occasionally then when you are pregnant and into your post natal period it can be a wonderful addition to your self care regime. I would suggest that if you aren’t so keen on receiving massage, if the thought of someone touching your body turns you cold, perhaps wait until a little while after your baby has joined your family before trying it out, and I would suggest that in these circumstances your little one is left at home. Remember, do what you love to do, and try to continue this after the arrival of the latest member of your family.
Remember, trust yourselves.