Unlocking the Power of Touch: How Baby Massage Benefits Both Mother and Child
Infant massage doesn’t just benefit babies. For Moms, baby massage helps you to create a bond with your child, adds a positive psychological effect, and works to alleviate postpartum depression. Bonus: The Kahlmi baby massager can also be used as a lactation massager!
What is Infant Massage?
Infant massage uses gentle short, rhythmic strokes, to help calm and relax babies. This holistic all natural therapy is an ancient practice that has been handed down throughout the centuries. It's not something new, even though celebrity mothers have been singing its praises. Eastern and Pacific cultures began infant massage over 4,000 years ago. These techniques have been used in India and Africa over 2,000 years ago and in China for centuries starting in the Qing Dynasty.
In Western culture, infant massage was introduced by Vimala Schneider McClure, through working with children in Indian orphanages, during the 1970s.
Baby massage when performed regularly can cue your baby when it’s time to sleep and enable them to sleep more soundly. Infant massage promotes better digestion and relief of gas and constipation. It also soothes upset from colic and teething.
Practicing infant massage regularly can promote better circulation and an even stronger immunity in babies. Like massage for adults, infant massage can aid in joint mobility, pain management, and coordination. Most importantly, infant massage helps to create a bond between mother and baby.
While massage can be performed with bare hands there are also some soothing tools on the market, such as the Kahlmi Baby Massager. Featuring one wand, with three sensory heads, the baby massage tool also offers a low gentle vibration making it incredibly soothing for your baby.
Baby Massage and Bonding
Infant massage creates an important bond between a mother and her baby. Before a baby is born, a bond is created. Simple massage begins when the mom-to-be rubs her belly. Once the baby is born infant massage deepens this love, affection, and connection.
A mother can see what her baby responds to during infant massage. Touch is the first sense and the main form of communication for baby. As the mother gives her little one her full attention, she can also gently talk to her baby and establish a deep connection.
In a study on The Effects of Massage by Mothers on Mother-Infant Attachment in 2018, 40 mothers of babies that were transferred to neonatal intensive care due to premature birth were broken into two control groups. The first group of mothers was taught infant massage and then massaged their babies for a total of 15 minutes per day. The second group of mothers was not involved in infant massage. Both groups of mothers were assessed using the maternal attachment scale.
Both groups of mothers continued to be assessed during the five-day study using the maternal attachment scale. At the end of the study, there was a significant increase in maternal attachment in the mothers who gave their babies daily massages. The study concluded by stating, “Massage given to premature neonates by their mothers daily can promote and maintain emotional attachment between the mother and her infant.”
The Psychological Effect Of Baby Massage on Maternal Health
Positive reactions from babies during motherhood build confidence, especially in new mothers. Using touch therapy releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that promotes a positive mood. This in turn decreases cortisol, the stress hormone. With this comes the release of oxytocin, also known as the love or happy hormone, that is released from the brain into the body. This lifts the mood of both mother and baby.
Infant massage also creates focus, while the mother is performing the motion. In turn, this leads to a sense of flow or living completely in the moment. Additionally, there have been studies that prove, infant massage can be especially beneficial in treating postpartum depression in mothers.
What is Postpartum Depression & Anxiety?
- One in seven women experience postpartum depression. (Mughal et al., 2002)
- PPD and PPA can present itself in women during pregnancy or up to one year after giving birth.
- PPD and PPA not only affects the mother but can also affect the bond she has with her baby.
Some of the symptoms of postpartum depression include anxiety, change in sleep patterns, a loss of appetite and energy, as well as extreme sadness. Some of the treatments available include meditation, yoga, exercise, sun exposure, and spending time with friends and family.
How Baby Massage Can Help Treat Postpartum Depression
A study involving mothers in the fourth week of PPD who were elevated on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was given treatment in two control groups. The first group was assigned to attend a support group. The second group was asked to attend an infant massage class.
The result of this study on Postnatal depression and mother and infant outcomes after infant massage concluded that infant massage was more beneficial to mothers than attending a support group. Both treatments proved valuable. Yet the mothers who attended the infant massage class had slightly higher decreased scores on their Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) starting at just four weeks than the support group mothers. However, after one year the study found the mothers who attended the infant massage class had “non-depressed levels of sensitivity of interactions with their babies.” Conversely, the support group mothers did not.
A Baby Massager for Lactating Mothers
The Kahlmi Baby Massager can also be borrowed from baby. The lightweight, gentle baby massager is perfect for lactating mothers. This works by turning on the massager and moving it in a circular motion, focusing on one breast at a time. After both breasts are massaged the baby massager is moved to the side of each breast, while continuing to massage in a circular motion. This helps with let down and can assist in alleviating clogged ducts as well.
Baby massage doesn’t just benefit babies. There are many ways the practice can also help a mother. After all, the relationship between Mom and baby, especially in the 4th trimester, is inextricably linked.
Best of all, it creates a never-ending bond and the habit of mindfulness and self-care that your baby will be able to bring well into adulthood.