1 in 5 mothers finds bonding with their baby difficult and 1 in 10 are likely to suffer from postnatal depression within a year of their their child’s birth.
Postnantal depression and the feeling of not bonding with your baby cause the mother anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, which can make it harder for a mother to read their baby’s cues. Baby massage offers an opportunity for the mother to be taught how to respond to their baby’s cues in a relaxing, non-judgemental environment and allows a mother to focus purely on their little one.
Massage stimulates the release of the body’s natural feel-good chemical, Oxytocin. When oxytocin floods the body, it helps the mother and baby to form a close bond, making eye contact and chatting/singing become easier. The close physical contact that comes with baby massage helps a mother to become more sensitive to a baby’s needs and baby will start to respond. The mother begins to feel more empowered and is able to start picking up the baby‘s cues. Everyday interaction, which may have been a struggle before, becomes more manageable as the loving bond develops.
Research suggest that massaging a baby regularly helps to get the circadian rhythms on track, meaning that a baby will sleep more at night and be more active during the day. A baby’s circadian rhythm influences the physical and mental changes that their body goes through every 24 hours or so. The natural rise and fall of a baby’s appetite, body temperature, and their readiness for sleep, all reflect their circadian rhythm.
Adult bodies usually prepare for sleep when it gets dark. When the days light fades, our brain responds by producing the hormone melatonin. Melatonin helps to slow us down and make us drowsy. It continues to be released throughout our sleep at night. The more we sleep during the dark night hours, the more melatonin our brains will produce. A baby may need a little encouragement to ease them into this rhythm of being awake in the daytime and asleep at night, and having a relaxing massage helps. Babies who are often massaged have been found to have higher levels of melatonin in their bodies.
Baby massage has many benefits and when it comes to pain, it can help to relieve pain caused by colic and constipation. Baby massage has also shown to help calm irritable babies, responding to soothing strokes and close contact.
Circulation is also helped by massage as it stimulates the blood and lymph vessels enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells.
Another benefit of baby massage is that it has been shown to enhance weight gain and improve overall development. Not only this but massage can help calm a teething baby and stimulate energy meridians that directly connect to the the mouth and teeth.
Some of these benefits include easing the pain caused by colic and constipation, calms irritable babies, improves circulation, improves weight and aids digestion and can ease the pain of teething.
The fear of hurting, dropping or ‘doing something wrong’ is a natural but overwhelming feeling that often comes with first time parents. Babies can often sense if a mother is worried, upset or nervous which can cause a mother to feel anxious and stressed.
Baby massage is a method where parents can gain confidence in holding their baby.
Baby massage allows an opportunity for other family relations and friends to bond and attach to the infant. Baby massage promotes a feeling of being cared for, a sense of security and being valued. Often, fathers can have a feeling of isolation when the baby arrives. Massage is a great way for them to build a bond and spend time together. Studies have shown that fathers who massage their baby not only found that they felt less stressed, but the close contact will make them more aware of the changes in their growing infant, promoting a better overall relationship with their child.
Smiling, making eye contact, caring, being physically gentle and being interested all forge the path to positive interaction. Learning and using baby massage uses and develops all these qualities.
Baby massage helps the baby feel secure and valued whilst encouraging positive interaction between mother and baby. From birth, children need experiences and relationships that show them they’re valued, capable human beings who bring pleases to others. Positive attention, reactions and responses from key grown-ups help children build a picture of how valued they are.