Relief is at Hand

Picture: Kate McPhan

Ahhh. We all love that relaxed, refreshed feeling that comes with having a massage. The knots are removed, tension erased and stress cleared. So can you imagine how great a baby would feel when given the right, soothing touch?
“Just as when we as adults treat ourselves to a massage, our serotonin levels increase (this is our “feel good” hormone) and our cortisol levels decrease (stress hormone). This is exactly the same for infants who can be struggling with life outside the warmth and safety of the womb,” said Lauren Dredge, myotherapist and NurtureLife practitioner at Glow Clinic in Berwick.
“It can ease wind and constipation, reduce crying time, improve sleep, boost the immune system and clear the chest and sinuses. It has also been linked to improved co-ordination in the infants as it increases their body awareness.”
Lauren, specialises in pregnancy and infant massage, said parents also greatly benefit.
“Having a brand new baby is such an exciting time but it can be very busy too! With nappy changes, doctor’s visits, feeding, etc, it is so easy to get swept away in busyness,” she said.
“Massage time is great for time to just focus on being with your baby and can help foster and strengthen the bond between baby and parent. Especially for dads when mum is breastfeeding sometimes there isn’t a lot they can do in the early days so this can be a very special bonding time for them.
“It is also a good way to monitor your baby’s bodies for any changes and keep an eye out for any potential issues such as rashes, lumps, etc.”
Lauren said that as all babies were different, there was no specific age that they should be getting massaged, but recommended starting the process when they are about one month old. She said there were also certain times of the day and behavioural cues to look out for to determine a good time to get those hands moving.
“Babies are quite good at communicating whether they want food, comfort, sleep and it is the same for massage. We teach parents some cues to look out for but generally before bed is a great time for massage. Whether it is before a nap during the day or before bed at night,” she said.
“If baby is relaxed and happy then that is the ideal time for massage. But if they are teething or constipated we should massage them even if they are crying to help ease their discomfort.
“It is also a great idea to have a specific blanket or towel you always do massage time on as babies learn association very quickly and will know what to expect when they see it.”
Lauren said it was highly unlikely any parent would hurt their child through their techniques as babies make it very clear when they are not happy! However, direction and pressure applied during abdominal massage needs to be correct or it has the potential to make wind or constipation worse instead of better. Lauren also said certain strokes and directions can be more stimulating than relaxing so they may be counterproductive in getting a baby to relax. She recommended attending a class at the Glow Clinic to learn the proper techniques.
“You can have a one off one-on-one infant massage lesson with an instructor or come to one of our series of three classes in groups with other mums,” Lauren said.
“I have a demonstration doll so if your little one is asleep, feeding or not in the mood you can still learn. We also sell manuals with detailed illustrations to help guide and prompt you when you get home from your lesson.”
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