Updated: Mar 30, 2019
Your baby starts experiencing the power of touch and massage in the womb, much like you once did yourself. Throughout pregnancy Mothers (and partners) can often be seen rubbing and applying gentle pressure (felt by baby) to their growing midsection; a natural instinct that has a variety of benefits. Gentle tightenings (though not always noticed by the Mother) are frequently squeezing baby throughout their gestation journey. At the end of pregnancy, we then have the crescendo of birth, when those tightenings then help prepare and bring forth your child into the world.
Massage as a Continuum
At birth, most parents naturally start to rub and touch their baby, an instinct that is very beneficial to the "third & fourth stage" of birth. We as parents are presented then with such an intuitive opportunity to start using massage within those first minutes and hours following our child's arrival.
Babies come out of the womb covered in a sweet creamy white substance called Vernix Caseosa. Each child will come out with varying amounts of this substance upon their skin. Some babies may look pale because they covered in so much, while others will only have some in their skin folds, creases or hair.
In the womb this substance helped protect your baby and it can do so still in the time after birth. Parents can simply massage this lovely substance gently into the skin of their newborn. Not only is it moisturizing to their skin, but it can also help protect the baby against certain infections in the first hours/ days of their life earthside. Not to mention that coupled with the scent of amniotic fluid, they prove an important stimulant to the nervous systems of both Mother and baby. These scents and pheromones help facilitate important bonding and attachment between parent and child. Your touch not only helps to foster bonding, but this instinctive stroking of the baby helps nurture their awakened
Massage is also an easy tool to call upon to help aid attachment and bonding when that natural process has been interrupted for any number of reasons. Some families may experience a difficult birth, PP depression or a number of other experiences. Beginning this gentle practice at any time can be of value to both parents and the child.
Some benefits of touch and massage:
A free and empowering parenting tool
Reduces infant stress
Initiates and promotes bonding
Aids with colic and gas relief
Can help ease chest and nasal congestion when a child is sick.
Benefits circulation and growth
Creates healthy and mindful parenting practices
Promotes Oxytocin release in both child and caregiver
A tool available to all the child's caregivers
Positively affects our relationship
A Practice for Stability
During my own parenting journey, I have found massage to be one of greatest practices to implement when my parenting nerves are fried! If my child is fussy, unable to relax or be soothed, I bring out a safe aromatic oil, lay out some towels and offer my children a massage. While the thought of having to do one. more. thing. when we are overwhelmed or flustered may feel counterintuitive, massage really just does something wonderful for your own state of mind. It's often a combination of the calming oil scent, the oxytocin release from exchanging nurturing touch and witnessing your little one enjoying themselves. Now before I accidentally fill your heads with images of calm, quiet massages that always end in a perfectly deep sleeping child...this is NOT always the case. Hardly. Sometimes they will lay peacefully while enjoying your soothing touch, and other times they wiggle and roll and giggle before you have time to employ any special massage “techniques”. That is just the reality of it, but it doesn’t mean it is of any less value if it is not a perfectly serene experience. Sometimes it will be utterly peaceful, other times completely comical and then there will be times when it's just not worth trying.
Create A Massage Oil
Crafting a unique massage oil designated just for your child can be a fun and beautiful way to care for them. It is traditional in some cultures to utilize different oils for the seasons, treating the different symptoms the changing environment may bring. Vimala McClure states that in India, Mothers will use mustard oil for warmth in winter and coconut for cooling during the Summer. You may purchase nice herbs to infuse into your oil, or harvest (safe) wild ones on a special walk together, even grow special ones in your garden. Practicing the art of touch not only benefits your child in the ways I mentioned above but teaches them the importance of giving and receiving. (Even now each of my own children now offers to massage my back in their own degree when I am feeling unwell.)
Some of my favorite herbs and oils to use on our family members are:
Sweet Almond Oil
Massaging your new baby can be as involved or as simple as you wish it to be. Sometimes it may just be a nice foot rub, where a little oil is rubbed into their soles at night. And sometimes it can be a whole body experience after a nice bath together. However you choose to implement massage in your families lives, know that it is a great opportunity to benefit both your and their well-being.
If you are interested in learning more about infant massage or making your own massage oil we welcome you to join us at one of our fun classes or workshops. Or better yet, book your own private workshop with your partner or friends. If you have any questions or would like more details please send us an email and we would be more then happy to get back to you.