Massage is a nurturing activity that allows us to continuously send conscious and subconscious messages to the receiver of our love for them, of our desire for them to feel better, etc. For example, when you are feeling down in the dumps and someone hugs you, you immediately feel better. The hug feels like a homecoming. This occurs because the positive energy of good intentions neutralizes negative energy. We instinctively use our hands to heal because we are subconsciously aware that we are part of a very complex network of energy. It surrounds us and flows through us. Healing therefore takes place through an exchange of human energies.
This is the general concept that surrounds Massage, and by extension, Infant Massage. Science tells us that when the early embryo is developing, the skin arises from the same cell layer as the Nervous System, and can thus be seen as the external portion of the Nervous System. The skin is able to receive and register a vast amount of varied signals, and able to make a wide range of responses to them. Touch is therefore the first sense to become functional in the embryo. This means that Infant Massage begins during pregnancy, and the mother should consider receiving Massage as part of her self-nurturing routine as it alleviates discomforts and would help her to maintain the necessary physiological and psychological balance.
It is understood that during the childbearing a woman undergoes numerous changes that create physical and emotional stress. Because she is her baby’s environment, everything she does is also experienced by the baby. This is why Massage Therapy is especially beneficial. Having Massages during pregnancy helps to relieve the daily tension, aches, and pains. It stimulates the mother’s lymphatic system, increasing immunity and the removal of toxins, as well as stabilizing hormonal levels and balancing the glandular system. Massage is an opportunity to harmonize the different parts of the body. It increases cellular exchanges, and limits and prevents unsightly stretch marks that may appear on the breasts, hips, thighs, buttocks and stomach. With all these benefits it is almost strange that many women do not dare to be massaged during pregnancy for fear of hurting the baby.
For the many mothers who have full-time jobs that require long hours, heaving lifting, and nights on-call, regular Massages will keep you feeling your best. The benefits of Massage cannot be overstated. If we were to list them they would include, but not be limited to, the following:
assist with shorter, easier labour
shorten maternity hospital stay
relieve leg cramps
reduce swelling and edema
prepare pelvic muscles for birth
reposition pelvis after childbirth
help abdominal muscle tone
After the birth of the baby, the mother can intuitively engage in Infant Massage as this is a method of skin-to-skin contact which helps the baby to:
• latch onto the breast well
• breastfeed longer
• maintain normal body temperature
• maintain normal heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure
• experience less incidents of crying
• communicate to the mother that it is ready to be fed
Fathers are not to be left out. Massaging your infant facilitates bonding, not just between you and the baby, but also the mother. The feedback from the baby encourages smiles and communication between parents. Your time together can be considered a non-judgmental space in which a caring therapeutic relationship is developing. There is no need for previous experience as your infant will guide you through the Massage with its cues. Gradually, this will help you to gain more confidence in your parenting role. As a father, interacting with your infant through Massage is an ideal way to develop greater self-awareness and emotional literacy. For some this may be daunting at first, but with practice and baby’s encouragement, each Massage will end on a positive note.
NB: This article was later published in the Trinidad Express. See link. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/featured-news/Infant-massage-Loving-hands-207149531.html