Postnatal Massage: Benefits and Techniques
During birth, a woman’s body undergoes a great deal of stress. Each mother’s process of recovery from this physical challenge is different. Varied birth experiences such as C-sections, lactation challenges, tearing, and injury can make your recovery process more difficult. One tool that can help is postnatal massage. As with all massage, postnatal techniques can relax muscles, promote blood flow, and provide numerous other benefits. Mothers can choose between generalized techniques like back rubs to more targeted approaches such as leg and perineal massage. Meadowlands Physiotherapy can provide postnatal massage to support your recovery journey. Here’s what you need to know about this massage therapy technique and its benefits.
Postnatal Massage Benefits
The general benefits of massage therapy after labor are similar to those that anyone can experience from massage. These benefits are supportive of a mother’s physical and even emotional recovery from the experience of childbirth. Benefits include:
- Pain relief: It’s no surprise that after birth, mom will still be feeling soreness and discomfort in many areas, most of which can be directly massaged to reduce pain. If not, general massage can relieve pain across the whole body.
- Swelling and circulation: Massage can bring down swelling and promote proper circulation. Mothers have increased blood volume and may experience significant swelling after childbirth so promoting circulation is critical. Even if the mother has had a C-section and cannot have abdominal massage, arm and leg massage can also promote proper circulation through the body.
- Sleep: New mothers need their sleep more than most of us! Massage can help promote deep, restorative sleep that will help you recover and deal with sleep interruptions better.
- Mood: It is normal to feel sad after birth. This may range from slight blues to postpartum depression. Receiving massage as well as giving massage to your infant can help alleviate these feelings and stabilize your mood.
More specific massage techniques can promote more specific benefits for mothers. For example, proper breast massage techniques can aid with lactation issues and perineal massage can relieve pain and promote healing.
Postnatal Massage Techniques
There are many postpartum massage techniques that a mother has to choose from depending on her comfort level and the goals of the massage. The simplest is general back massage techniques. Research has found that slow stroke back massage is effective at reducing anxiety and controlling mood postpartum.
Techniques for lactation benefits may or may not include the breasts. Massage that is too firm on the breasts can increase mastitis and difficulties with lactation, which is why gentle massage is preferred for this area. However, direct massage to the breast may not even be necessary to promote lactation. Research has found that back massage and acupuncture both increase the lactation hormone prolactin.
Perineal massage and C-section scar massage can begin after any lacerations have healed. This is typically four to six weeks postpartum. For the perineum, downward and sweeping motions can be used. For the C-section scar, gentle sideways motions starting at one end of the scar are ideal. The most important thing is for massage to be comfortable and to avoid irritating or infecting any unhealed areas.
Meadowlands Physiotherapy can walk you through your postnatal massage options and help you recover after childbirth. Reach out to us today for guidance or to book a consultation!