In the rush after your baby has arrived, it is easy to forget your body has experienced just as many changes following birth as it did leading up to it. Postpartum massage can be an invaluable tool for healing.
There is a reason massage therapy is considered the number one recommended alternative therapy for pregnant moms, and if you’ve read my blog post on all the benefits for prenatal massage here you’ve hopefully become well aware! However, it is just as important for your body to be nourished and balanced post-birth as it is before birth! And the American Pregnancy association heartily agrees.
The two primary goals of Postpartum Massage are:
- to release birth tension
- to realign the body
What Can I Expect Upon Receiving Postpartum Massage?
The targeted areas in Postpartum Massage are the: neck, shoulders, back, pelvis, thighs and feet.
Special attention can also be given on the abdomen at this point, particularly along the colon to aid in digestion. (Note: In the case of a cesarean birth, this would only be done if comfortable.) This is especially helpful in addition to the use of castor oil that I’m excited to offer in both my prenatal and postpartum sessions.
Castor oil is an ancient remedy, recorded being used as far back as 1550 B.C. It is considered to be “the miracle oil”, which is not surprising as it is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral! Many know it to be helpful with digestion, but it also helps the flow of lymph, gastrointestinal disorders, inflammation, edema, and injuries.
(Important side note: Many forget the lymphatic system is DIRECTLY related to our digestion! That is one of its main functions. If our digestion is poor our lymphatic system is compromised!). In addition, it is completely safe to use during pregnancy and postpartum and has significant benefits for both the mother and baby.
Special attention is also given to drawing the ribs and hips back together.
Other Healing Aspects of Postpartum Massage
Heat therapy is also very important over the sacrum and uterus area with a hot towel and/or hot water bottle, as it relaxes tight muscles, and feels wonderful!
Aromatherapy can also be added to your session at no additional charge. Essential oils that aid in relaxation and hormonal balance like Clary Sage, Lavender, and Helichrysum are safe to use topically when diluted and are excellent for skincare. (There are many essential oils, however, that are not safe to use when breastfeeding, such as Rosemary, Wintergreen, Myrrh, etc.!)
As for positioning on the table, any position is safe after delivery but will be adjusted according to your comfort. Some moms are ecstatic at being able to lie face-down again! Others may be uncomfortable face-down because of breast discomfort, which is when I use a soft pillow to go underneath the breasts, or a large pillow right above and another right below the breasts, as well as one for underneath your ankles for maximum comfort.
If, however, you feel better in the side-lying position, that can be done just as in prenatal massage and can be very effective to treat specific issues of the hips, shoulders, and pelvis.
This is your massage. Every time you are on my table you are the queen of the hour (or hour and a half, which I always recommend for my prenatal/postpartum moms!) and you choose exactly how you would like to be positioned and what your needs are for each particular session.
How Soon Should I Receive Postpartum Massage?
The ideal time for a postpartum massage is as soon as you feel comfortable and ready for one! Generally, this timeframe is after 3 days for a vaginal birth or about a week after a cesarean birth.
Why Should I Receive a Postpartum Massage?
1. Decreases Depression
As proven by studies, anxiety and depression respond very well to skilled massage therapy. About two-thirds of new moms experience temporary postpartum blues related to hormonal changes, new responsibilities and adjustment frustrations. Massage has proven to help reduce postpartum depression as shown here!
2. Relieves Pain
Massage is an effective holistic approach that relaxes muscles and relieves pain without medication.
3. Balances Hormones
Massage greatly improves postpartum hormone balance! Estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are very high during pregnancy and decrease after delivery. Studies have shown that massage decreases cortisol, a stress-related hormone that tends to be very high post-birth, understandably, and increases prolactin, a lactation hormone, which is necessary for breastfeeding.
4. Decreases Swelling
Body fluids need to find balance after pregnancy, in which there is an increase of about 50% in fluid volume. Massage increases circulation and lymphatic drainage to eliminate excess fluids and waste.
(And for any of you that have read my blog post on lymphatic drainage here, it is so important to know someone who knows how to properly drain the lymphatic system, as it is your lymphatic system that is the chief controller of whether or not you swell up like a balloon!).
5. Encourages Sleep
If there is one accurate word to describe how your body feels after labor and delivery it is most likely: exhausted. Massage will ease fatigue, promote relaxation, and assist with sleep.
Studies have shown an increase in delta brain waves (those that accompany deep sleep) with massage therapy. That is why it is very common to fall asleep during a massage! Getting enough sleep is key to postpartum recovery. Everything improves when you feel rested!
Postpartum massage is all about nurturing you so that you, in turn, can go on to be your best, most relaxed, most refreshed self, empowered to be the best mom you can be.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”Proverbs 31:28