A salubrious massage

A salubrious massage

Some age-old postnatal practices are in existence for a reason. They have a well-rooted intention that is beneficial to both, the mother and the newborn, writes Tejashree Joshi.

Pregnancy and child birth are taxing phases for a woman, both physically and mentally.

Traditionally, regular massage of the baby and mother by an experienced and skilled masseuse has been an integral part of the care process, after the delivery. Being followed since generations, the significance of postnatal massage is well-documented in medical literature and is backed by present-day health experts, too.

During the first few months after delivery, daily massage of the mother
substantially helps in relaxing her tense muscles, specially of the abdomen, lower and upper back.

After the exhausting delivery process, a massage relieves muscle spasms, improves blood circulation, soothes the nervous system and rejuvenates the mother’s body.
A massage also stimulates the release of oxycontins, which boosts milk ejection reflex, thereby making breast-feeding easier.

It triggers the release of endorphins, which are the ‘feel-good’ hormones and natural painkillers. Moreover, regular body massage enhances overall wellbeing and tones the stretched muscles in the abdominal region, promoting speedy restoration of pre-pregnancy weight.

For the first three to six months, massaging the infant with the right strokes helps strengthen the muscles and bones, while enhancing the infant’s sensory awareness.

Daily massage improves flexibility of joints, enhances blood circulation, improves metabolic activity and digestion, and helps the baby gain weight. Massage also regulates hormone secretion in the baby’s body and reduces stress.

Studies have also established numerous benefits of massage for preterm and
low-birth-weight babies, including weight gain, improved bone density and shorter hospital stay. Besides the physical benefits, a massage also has psychological advantages for both, the mother and the infant. Massage encourages pre-verbal communication between the mother and child.

The dynamics of infant massage facilitate parenting skills, infant-mother interaction and a mother’s ability to understand her baby’s positive and negative cues, such as eye contact, smiling, making babbling or cooing sounds, pulling away, crying or squirming.

It is, thus, imperative to sustain and encourage postnatal massages in order to ensure that newborns and mothers of the next generations are not deprived of its numerous benefits.

(The author is managing director, Sangopan Tendercare Services, Bengaluru)

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