Postpartum massage techniques
Created by Chayanika Sen Updated on Oct 08, 2019
Post partum period refers to the span of time a woman's body takes to resume back to the normal non pregnant self. Technically, it is the period that starts once the baby is delivered and continues till the end of 6 weeks. Sometimes, it is also referred to as postnatal period. It is the time when the uterus is shrinking back to its normal size and the body hormones adjust themselves in the post-pregnancy stage. Women are advised lots of rest and relaxation.The best way to relax and rejuvenate a tired body and mind is to indulge in a soothing massage.
Why Is Massage Important After Delivery?
Delivering a baby is exhausting. Post delivery the body is in acute discomfort, healing internal scars, strain in the lower body, shoulders and back are tired adjusting to the breast feeding positions, nipples are sore, mind is full of anxiety and a new mother is completely sleep deprived. Post partum message aims at stress reduction, better sleep, relaxation, pain relief, hormone regulation, body and mind healing. Postnatal massage also improves lactation and helps the body to restore to its pre-pregnancy condition. Body massage after delivery is all about alleviating the strain and regaining strength. It is known to be effective for better health and quicker recovery.
What Are The Benefits Of Postpartum Massage?
Any massage helps the body to feel light and relaxed. Some proven benefits of postpartum massage are-
- Helps in relaxing the body: Postnatal massage relaxes the strained muscles, boosts blood circulation, lowers stress and anxiety, and helps regain lost strength. After the pregnancy period of nine months, a massage is a great way to soothe and relax the body that has undergone tremendous strain. The added advantage is the effect of a pampering massage on the mind – and it helps tremendously in keeping postpartum depression at bay
- Pain relief: Aching, sore muscles from the birth and the initial stress on arms and back because of breastfeeding can intensify pain further. Body massage is helpful in addressing muscular pains and provide comfort
- Regulation of hormones: Childbirth leaves the mother with her hormones in frenzy. As the body increases the production of Prolactin and oxytocin to facilitate breastfeeding, pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone fall down. These fluctuations can make the hormones go haywire
- Helps with swelling: During pregnancy, the blood volume in the body grows up by about 50%. After delivery, the body needs to balance the body fluids and eliminate the excess of them. Post natal massage increases blood circulation and lymphatic drainage to aid in eliminating waste products. The fluids are thus shifted to the right places in the body
- Promotes sleep: Caring for a newborn baby is as much a mental stress as it is physical. The exhaustion from the birth and labor, with the new challenges of taking care of a newborn, is enough to make a new mother feel fatigued and exhausted. Postpartum massage increases the intensity of brain waves that promote deep sleep, and makes new moms feel well-rested. And being well-rested is the key to better baby and mom bonding
- Improved lactation: For some women, breastfeeding comes naturally to some while for some others it might be a challenge. Massage after delivery helps to release the lactation hormone prolactin. Breast massage additionally helps reduce breast pain and stimulate breast milk production. A relaxed body is always better at producing breast milk
When Can I Start Massage After Delivery?
A post partum massage may be started post seeking advice from a medical practitioner. In case of caesarean delivery, it is generally allowed after two weeks but one generally has to wait for the incision to get completely healed. It can be started off within 4 to 5 days if it is a normal delivery. Stomach massage after delivery is most important.
Precautions When Starting Postpartum Massage After A C-section
The incision has to be given special consideration while massaging. In case the incision is not fully healed up one can go in for an overall body massage and leave out the stomach and the abdominal area. Do not apply pressure on your abdomen as it can cause complications. After 5-6 weeks, a special scar tissue massage can be done after taking a go ahead from the doctor. It is believed that a scar tissue massage can prevent the tissues from sticking together. However, your best guide through this would be your doctor, so seek his opinion.
One should also refrain from applying oil on nipples. This is in interest of the newborns' hygiene. One should be very careful in judging the type and frequency of massage they opt for.
Postpartum Massage Techniques
Post partum massage is most effective when help is sought from a professional. The massage steps after delivery require specialisation and expertise. A few techniques of post partum massage are as follows-
Swedish massage: Swedish massage is also referred to as Classic massage. This massage technique promotes deep relaxation. It uses a combination of several different stroke techniques such as-
- Effleurage which includes long, smooth and slow strokes
- Petrissage which is a process of kneading. This aims at toning the strained muscles
- Friction which helps in reduction of muscle spasms
- Tapotement includes stimulatory strokes that promote blood circulation and muscle contraction
- Finally a nerve stroke is given and the session is wrapped up with effleurage
- Jamu Massage: Jamu is a blend of herbs derived from the barks, roots, flowers and other parts of medicinal plants. This massage helps in strengthening and tightening the stomach muscles. Volcanic stones are used as a compress for the massage. This massage is helpful in in flattening the tummy at a fast pace
- Foot Reflexology: Foot Reflexology is basically a type foot massage that stimulates special acu-points on the feet. As per the reflexology theory the acu-points on the feet correspond to every organ in the body. Stimulating the acupressure points with appropriate pressure can stimulate the corresponding organ and improve it's function
- Herbal Baths: This includes use of various roots, spices and herbs. Daily bath in this water reduces soreness of veins, removes excess wind, odour of lochia and discharge. This is usually done after the massage and helps the new mother feel refreshed and reenergised
- Accupressure: This technique relieves the pains and discomforts caused after delivery. Various points that correspond to the body parts are identified and then subtle pressure is applied to promote healing and wellness
Oils For Postpartum Massage
It is the best practice to try out a few oils and then decide the best suited oil. Very little quantities should be tried out on the hand to ensure one is not allergic to the type of oil being selected. Moreover, one has to make sure that the baby does not express aversion to any particular odour. Oil for post partum massage may be selected according to ones choice and suitability. Various options available in the market are as follows-
- Mustard oil: This is considered as the best oil for post partum massage because it is believed to be warming. An option of adding ajwain or garlic is exercised for best results. Mustard oil is a big relief for joint pains and it increases blood circulation
- Herbal oils: Specialists generally advise herbal oils for massage. These oils are generally beneficial and comforting. Their advantages are manifold
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is most used oil. With its heating effects and pleasant smell, it is considered to be helpful for post partum massages
Besides these- coconut, sesame and almond oils also have their own benefit. But inherent nature of these oils is not very warm, hence these are used for post natal massage only when these oils are specifically preferred.
Happy healing and enjoy your postpartum period!