Early postpartum recovery is a time of healing and adjustment. The recovery period is the 6-week period post-birth however, but the body continues to have metabolic and hormonal changes that can last longer.
I often remind my clients that it has taken them 9 months, or in some cases 10, to allow their baby to develop. A woman’s body changes almost instantly post-birth, and it takes time to return balance to the body, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
And of course, we must acknowledge the biggest challenge that new mums face – how they can look after themselves when they are trying to keep a little human alive. Keep reading to find out why massage forms a vital part of post-partum recovery.
The Benefits Of Postnatal Massage
Massage is important for early postnatal recovery. Massage during the postpartum period can even enable a quicker recovery from pregnancy and childbirth and improve the health and wellbeing of mum. Massage forms a vital part of the journey into motherhood.
Some of the benefits of postpartum massage include:
- Labour recovery, physical and mental exhaustion
- Alleviating stress, anxiety and depression
- Rebalancing postural changes and reducing pain
- Aiding the repair of scar tissue from surgery due to cesarean birth
- Providing relief from breastfeeding posture and mammary changes
Let’s face it, whether you have a quick 1-hour labour, or whether your labour went on for days, there is no denying that it has an impact on your body. From the first stages, to the active pushing and expulsion of the placenta, your body had worked hard to endure these phases. Massage in the postpartum period can help the new mother to alleviate feelings of physical and mental exhaustion. Massage is a wonderful way to reduce pregnancy discomforts hat often linger postnatally. Receiving massage is early postpartum can enhance recovery and reduce pelvic ligament and joint strain and pain.
Mental Health of Mum and Dad
Massage at any stage of life can reduce stress hormones and increase feelings of relaxation. Postpartum massage shares these benefits. More than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression. Postnatal anxiety is just as common, and many parents experience both anxiety and depression at the same time.
For mums, hormonal changes can be a contributing factor for changes in mental health. While adjusting to new responsibilities and feelings of frustration, stress and overwhelm can impact both parents. Massage can help the new mum and dad alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health postnatally, please contact PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Pregnancy Birth Baby Helpline on 1800 882 436.
Postural Rebalance and Reducing Pain
Post-birth, a woman’s posture changes dramatically. Their center of gravity is no longer being thrust forward with the weight of baby. But this does not mean that the body automatically rebalances itself. Massage can assist in realigning and rebalancing postural changes in the glutes, hips and shoulders. Thus, providing relieve form muscular strain and reducing tension headaches, and generalized lower back pain. Postnatal massage is relaxing and eases muscular strain not only form labour and birth, but also assists in rebalancing the body as it adjusts to new physical demands, such as breastfeeding.
Scar Tissue Repair
One of the main focuses of postpartum massage is scar tissue repair and rebalancing the abdominal muscles. After a caesarian birth, some mothers report a loss of feeling and sensation in their abdomen. Postnatal massage focuses on bringing awareness to the abdomen and allowing mum to connect into her body.
Postpartum treatment also works on reducing adhesions surrounding the scar tissue, which can help mum feel freer and reduce abdomen pain. Massage on the caesarian scar tissue can help to heal the deeper layers of the wound and can prevent tissues from sticking together.
If you have had a caesarian, it is recommended to obtain consent and approval from your primary health care professional prior to attending treatment. This ensure that massage is safe, and the journey to healing and rebalancing can begin.
Motherhood brings with it new physical demands. Lifting, carrying and holding a new baby puts strain on the back, while breastfeeding strains the neck, upper back. It can feel like your whole body is a ball of pain and tension.
I often remind my new mums that breastfeeding is a skill that you need to learn, much like how your baby is learning the ways of the world too. Take it easy, take it slow and most of all be kind to yourself. It may take a while to hone this skill. At the end of the day, there is no right way to breast feed. If you choose to do it, or not do it, it doesn’t matter. But your posture is vital whether you are using breast or bottle.
I love this video from What To Expect. It goes through three breastfeeding postures for optimal comfort of mum and baby. What I love most about this video is that mum has supported her feet on a stool and throughout her shoulders are relaxed and she isn’t slouched or hunched over.
Watch It Here
Postnatal Massage Recommendations
As with pregnancy massage, postnatal treatment considers the comfort of mum, first and foremost. Prior to treatment, I recommend that mum’s feed or express to increase comfort.
Treatment can be performed side lying, if lying on the stomach causes pain in the abdomen or breasts.
Mum can also bring baby into the treatment if child care is not available. Baby can either be in the pram or on the table with mum if it is suitable.
Appointments can be arranged around feeding and sleep times to make this easier for baby to settle and for mum to relax.
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