The postnatal massage is a full body massage that is given to a mum every day for upto 40 days after birth.
There are many masseuse that specialise in postnatal and newborn massages. They either come once a day to your home to give you a massage, or move in with you for the first 40 days to help out with other baby care chores.
They usually start the massage with your feet and move upwards till they finish off with a head massage. The postnatal massage is a wonderful traditional practice to help soothe new mums. It can be very relaxing in the midst of the chaos of bringing a newborn home.
But you will need to arrange for some help because taking a whole hour for yourself with a newborn in the house might be difficult. If your baby's grandmother or other trusted care giver can watch your baby while you get a massage, you might find it one of the nicest practices of the postnatal confinement period.
What are the benefits of a postnatal massage?
A postnatal massage will help:
To ease sore spots and relax muscle tension. The whole process of childbirth has been a strain on your body, particularly your abdomen, lower back and hips. Your upper back might also be sore if you are breastfeeding and not using a suitable position.
Increase the flow of blood and oxygen to your muscles, getting rid of the toxins.
You feel relaxed. Massage encourages the body to release endorphins - the natural pain killers and feel good hormones secreted by the brain.
Your body to release oxytocin. Oxytocin triggers the letdown reflex which releases milk from your breast. This means that you might leak breastmilk during your massage so keep your breastfeeding bra on with some breastpads in. A breast massage will help open blocked ducts, loosen clumps or hardened areas, and reduce the risk of mastitis. Vigorous massage on the breasts can do more damage than good however so ensure that only soft and gentle strokes are applied to your breasts.
Speed up recovery from a caesarean section if you've had one. Although you need to stay clear of your wound as long as it hasn't healed, gentle massage to the area thereafter will increase blood supply and help with internal healing.
Improve well-being and immunity by stimulating lymph flow.
If nothing else, a postnatal massage will give you some time alone. The break will give you the strength to meet the many needs of your baby and home. Or it might help you unwind for a nap if your baby is sleeping too.
What precautions must I take if I had a caesarean?
A caesarean section is a major surgery and you may be in great pain. You will need time to recover from it. If you've had a caesarean, wait till your scar is healed before you start getting massages. This should take about a week or two, but let your doctor confirm you are ready for massages before you start.
Massages will help you relax, but instruct your masseuse to stay away from your scar and abdomen. Any pressure in that area so early on after delivery may cause problems. It's safe to stick to the feet, head, arms and back.
After around 5-6 weeks, a special scar tissue massage will help heal the deeper layers of the wound. Some experts believe that a scar massage can help prevent your tissues from sticking together, which is common after a surgery. This involves special massaging of the region around your scar. Make sure to get a masseuse who is familiar with this kind of massage.
Some say the best time to start the scar tissue massages is within the first 14 weeks of giving birth, but do get your doctor's approval first.
How do I make time for a postnatal massage?
After your baby arrives, you will be busier than the prime minister! Your life is now all about nappy changes, 2am feedings, bathing and massaging your baby, washing dirty clothes and so much more. Being in the midst of all this hustle and bustle can be stressful. So it's important to get some "me time", difficult though it may seem.
Ask for help. Ask your husband, mother, mother-in-law, or any other trusted family member to look after your little one while you get a massage. Or try to have it when he is asleep. You may be surprised to find so many offers of help. Knowing that someone trustworthy is looking over your little one will help you relax. The last thing you want to do while getting a massage is worry!
Pick the right time. Try to have your massage just after you have fed and changed your little one. If all his needs are met, you are more likely to find an hour or two in which he does not ask for you. It will then also be easier to leave him with another family member or trusted babysitter for a while.
Have your massage at home. Many masseuses specialising in post-delivery massages usually come home to you. This way you will be able to stay with your baby and still enjoy the benefits of a massage in the comfort of your home. You can check in your colony, apartment block or local beauty parlour if there are any special masseuse visiting your area. Other mums on our community forums may be able to help with contacts or recommendations. You may have to negotiate a price for a package or a daily rate. Always do a reference check and ask for valid identification before signing up a masseuse.
Schedule ahead. If you have to go out for your massages, you may want to schedule your massage appointments on weekends when your husband is home to babysit, or perhaps in the afternoon when your baby is taking a nap. This way you get a time that is convenient and less worrisome for you.
When shouldn't I get a postnatal massage?
A massage may be risky if:
you have skin problems such as rashes, blisters, boils and eczema
you have any medical complications
you have high blood pressure; a lighter type of massage may be more suitable
you have a hernia
It's always best to speak to your doctor before you start going for massages if you have concerns.