Massage during pregnancy - Qi Rhythm
We caught up with Melanie from Melbourne based Qi Rhythm, who provides pre and post-natal massage therapy, to discuss the benefits of massage for mothers and infants.
What are the main benefits of massage during pregnancy?
There are so many wonderful benefits that pregnancy massages can give, and there is plenty of scientific evidence for the benefits of massage during pregnancy. It’s important you choose a qualified pregnancy massage therapist who specializes in this area.
Relieve tension and pain from muscular fibres and tendons
Support healthy blood pressure
Increase range of movement
Reduce stress and anxiety
Increase restorative sleep, reduce insomnia
Support circulation and reduce swelling, particularly in legs, feet and hands
Help the mother to be aware of her postural changes and stay strong
Bring awareness to her growing baby by creating some time to be quiet and relaxed
What do you find are the common areas people experience pain or discomfort during pregnancy?
Obviously every pregnancy and woman is different, however the most common areas we treat would probably be lower back and hips during pregnancy. As the baby grows the centre of gravity shifts for the mother, this can put a lot of pressure on the lower back and hips. Hormones during the pregnancy can also affect the ligaments in the body, making these areas unstable, the muscles then work harder to compensate, which can create dysfunction, pain and discomfort.
During the postpartum period we may still be treating these areas until it settles again, but we also treat a lot of neck and shoulder tightness from holding and feeding babies after birth.
Can you have a massage after a c-section?
Yes definitely, it’s so important that women are nurtured and well cared for in the postpartum period, no matter the type of delivery they have. We always take a thorough client history prior to any massage, and in some instances we also need to gain consent from their Obstetrician, depending on the medical reasons for the cesarean. There are definite things that we need to consider after a cesarean to make it a safe massage, including the medications and pain relief they may be taking. After a cesarean we like to use our pregnancy mat on the massage table, this gives support to the abdomen and avoids any extra pressure on the wound.
I saw a great social media post the other day on Dr Grant Saffer’s instagram feed, that read “I received too much postpartum support.”– said no new mama ever!
Apart from massage, what do you recommend for relaxing and restoring the body while pregnant?
Guided meditation is wonderful for letting go of the busyness of life and connecting with your baby. Enjoying walks, yoga, movies, music, swimming and cooking special dinners together with your partner, building a strong relationship creates the foundation for you both to be the best parents that you desire.
Exercise is a fantastic way to clear the mind and brilliant to keep you fit and strong during pregnancy. To restore yourself be conscious about the food you are consuming, rubbish food will make you feel rubbish, unprocessed fresh food will help to restore you from the inside out.
How often should you have a massage?
Oh, the more massage you have the better, particularly if you love them, but obviously we all have a limit on what we can afford. It makes sense to spend money on preventative care, such as regular massage and exercise that supports you to feel great and reduces stress in your daily life. Health funds with extras often recognize this too and pay rebates for these costs because they too recognize that this can help reduce any bigger medical bills down the track.
Massage is a fantastic way to release tension and build and maintain strength in the body. It is an incredibly supportive and restorative practice. Our practitioners work with you to find a massage schedule that works for you and your body.
If you have no underlying muscular tension or issues we recommend the following schedule to maintain good health throughout your pregnancy and post-delivery:
Once a month for the first 3 months of pregnancy
Every fortnight for the next 5 months of pregnancy
Once a week for the final month of pregnancy
Fortnightly post-delivery for a couple of months
And monthly throughout motherhood
If however, you have any other issues (i.e. chronic long-standing conditions, or particularly dense muscular tissue, sore hips/back, swelling, lower back pain, breastfeeding tension in neck and shoulders, sleeplessness, headaches etc.), more frequent treatments may be required. After assessing your needs, we tailor a treatment plan specifically for you.
Receiving massage on a regular basis can result in cumulative health benefits, including promotion of a healthy circulatory system, good posture, and a healthy happy Mother.
What are the benefits of a baby massage?
Oh where do I start, there are so many benefits for infant massage, in my introductory classes I talk about the vital systems in our baby’s body and how each of these systems is greatly benefited from regular infant massage. The Vital systems include, the circulatory system, the nervous system, the digestive system and the immune system. Of course there are also enormous benefits for the bonding that happens during the massage too.
Infant massage is a great way of supporting the digestive system through all its changes and we have some little routines we teach to combat Colic too.
Babies who have heightened nervous energy often also have trouble falling asleep, or have trouble getting into a deep sleep without waking for the smallest of disturbances. Regular massage will help settle their nervous system and establish a rhythm, ensuring they are getting their required rest.
Every year there is more research conducted and overwhelmingly strong evidence in support of regular infant massage and also premature babies development.
We don’t actually massage other people’s babies, we teach the parents to massage their own babies, so that they become confident and can share this experience with their baby each day.
Did you massage your bubs? Tell us a bit about this experience
Yes I did, and I still do, they just happen to be 8 and 11 years old now! It’s not an every day thing anymore; they can tell when they need it. Sometimes its tight sore muscles from sports, but more often than not it’s them calling out for some love and nurturing. If they are having trouble to get to sleep or feeling frustrated or sad about something they will ask for a massage, I guess it’s a way of grounding themselves and pulling themselves back into their bodies, when they get lost in their thoughts.
When my children were babies I would massage them all the time, massage was amazing for sore tummies or constipation. During stages of teething I’d massage the jaw in little circles, but I’d also wash a finger and massage the gums inside the mouth where the teeth were about to push through, it seemed to give a lot of relief. At that stage they want to bite down on things, so I guess that counter pressure is helpful in reducing the pain of teething.
For my son in particular who struggled to fall asleep at night I’d do Touch Relaxation, Teaching him a conditioned response, I’d place my hands on him and say softly ‘relax your tummy’ (or wherever I was touching) and the weight and warmth of my hands would soften and relax him, then I’d say ‘so good you’ve relaxed your tummy’ and move onto another place. There are so many adults in the world that are unable to understand how to physically relax a part of their body when asked, I think it’s such a valuable tool to teach your baby or toddler, to have that mind body connection and really be able to manage your physical stress is such an asset in life.
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