BABY MASSAGE FOR MUMMIES
MASSAGE YOUR CARES AWAY
Being a new mum can sometimes seem a never ending cycle of feeding and changing nappies. So give yourself and your little one a break.
Massage can be relaxing for both babies and parents. Massaging your baby gives you a time when you can relax and be together and it can have lots of wonderful benefits too. It can even help to relieve symptoms of Post Natal Depression. A study 'Massage and Mother Baby Interaction with Depressed Mothers', carried out by Foetal and Neonatal Stress Research Group, looked into whether mothers suffering from PND would benefit from attending baby massage sessions with their babies
The group who attended several massage classes was compared with a similar group who participated in a support group. At the end of the test period the massage group had significantly less depression and very significantly better interaction with their babies, than the support group mothers. From these results it is clear that baby massage really works to help a depressed mum’s relationship with her baby.
Reduce crying and help relieve colic.
How to spot colic:-
Typically, colic starts in the first month, and continues until your baby is around 3 months.
- The baby is inconsolable
- It occurs in babies under three months of age
- It's usually worse in the evening after feeding and characterised by high-pitched screaming
Encourage better sleeping patterns for your baby
Help keep baby’s immune system healthy
Help you to bond with your baby
Get Dads involved too
Does my baby have to be a certain age?
Babies of any age normally enjoy being massaged. Young babies seem more relaxed after a massage and toddlers who may be experiencing the ‘terrible two’s’ appreciate the release of tension a massage gives.
HOW TO MASSAGE
Apply the lotion or oil to baby’s leg so that it coats it. There are various different styles of massage which are set out below. Work on one leg at a time, repeating the strokes.
This action is called Indian Milking
Hold baby’s foot with one hand and stroke the leg beginning at the buttocks and moving down the leg to the ankle. Hold your hand in a slightly curved position – like a ‘C’. Next use the other hand to hold baby’s foot and again stroke down the leg to the ankle Continue repeating the milking stroke alternating your hands so that you first stroke the outside and then the inside of the leg.
The Squeeze and Twist Action
Keep your hands in the ‘c’ shape and, starting at baby’s hip hold the leg with both hands close together; alternate a gentle squeezing and twisting motion from the hip to the ankle.
Sole to Foot
Begin by stroking the bottom of baby’s foot from the heel to the toes with your thumbs, one after another.
Squeeze Each Toe
Gently squeeze each toe. This is a great time to recite:
Stroking Top of Foot:
Stroke the top of the foot toward the ankle.
Press gently all over the bottom of baby’s foot with your thumbs.
This is similar to the Indian Milking action. The only difference is that the curved hand strokes the leg from the ankle to the hip.
Now we move onto the rest of the body
Stomach strokes help tone the intestinal system and relieve wind and constipation. These strokes must be done in a circular clockwise direction on baby’s tummy.
Scooping in the Sand
Using a firm but gentle pressure; starting below the ribs and moving to the lower abdomen. Make strokes with the sides of your hands, hand over hand; one hand following the other as though you were scooping sand towards you.
Put your thumbs on a level with baby’s tummy button and gently stroke outwards towards the sides.
Your left hand begins by making a full circle on baby’s stomach, moving clockwise. Your right hand makes a half circle in a clockwise direction starting at about 10 o’clock on baby’s tummy and stoke down to 4 o’clock. Then lift your right hand up and over your left hand making continuous circular strokes. Massage around and around with your hands like the hands of a clock.
Place your hands together palm to palm, in a 'praying' gesture, with your fingertips pointing towards the baby's head, your thumbs uppermost. Now imagine that your hands are a closed book, and your thumbs are the spine of the book. Place your little fingers - they are the edges of the pages - against the baby's skin and 'open' the book by spreading your hands, until your thumbs - still touching each other - reach the baby's flesh. Separate your hands and continue to move them outward across your baby in one smooth motion. Stroke from the centre to the side of baby’s chest, following the rib cage. Bring your hands around in a heart-shaped motion to the centre again and repeat the stroke.
Begin with both hands at baby’s sides, at the bottom of the rib cage. Move your right hand across baby’s chest diagonally to baby’s right shoulder. Massage the shoulder very gently. Move your hand down across baby’s chest to its original position. Repeat with your left hand moving up and across to baby’s left shoulder. Follow one hand after the other, rhythmically criss-crossing baby’s chest.
Hands and Arms Strokes
These strokes are similar to those for the legs and feet.
Hold baby’s wrist in your hand. With your other hand in the ‘c’ shape; start at baby’s shoulder and stroke smoothly down to the hand. Change hands and repeat the stroke. Continue this stroke, alternating hands, making contact with the inner and outer areas of the arm.
Squeeze and Twist
Start at baby’s upper arm, use the ‘c’ shape of your hands and slowly squeeze and twist with both hands moving down baby’s arm to the wrist using gentle pressure.
Stroke baby’s palm gently with both thumbs. If baby is making a tight fist, gently stroke the tops of the fingers to encourage baby to relax and open their hand for you.
Gently squeeze and stroke each finger between your fingers and thumb.
Back of Hand
Gently stroke the back of baby’s hand from the wrist to the fingers.
Massage the baby’s wrist by making small circles from front to back.
Support baby’s wrist, and stroke upwards from the wrist to the shoulder. Using smooth firm strokes continue, alternating hands.
The back massage strokes are very relaxing, and are favourites of both babies and toddlers. Lay the baby on the tummy. You may need to talk to baby as he won’t be able to see you.
Back and Forth
Begin with both hands at the top of baby’s back. Glide your hands back and forth, in opposite directions, going down the back to the buttocks, up to the shoulders, then back down again.
Neck to Bottom
Cup baby’s bottom with one hand. Beginning at baby’s neck, your other hand glides down smoothly to the bottom. Repeat the stroke several times.
Bottom to Ankles
Support the baby’s feet with one hand and repeat the gliding strokes with your other hand moving all the way down the legs to baby’s feet.
Small Circles on the Back
Use the tips of two fingers to draw small circles all over the back, working from top to bottom. Try to draw the circles by gently shifting the skin, rather than rubbing your fingers over the skin.
With your hand open and fingers spread apart, gently "comb" baby’s back starting at the neck and moving to the buttocks. Repeat several times allowing the strokes to become lighter and lighter. End with a very light "feather" touch.
Face and Head
There are also movements for massaging baby’s face and head but most babies do not like this. If you find that your baby does, then go ahead.
Starting with the forehead, use the open book technique but do not use the whole hand; only the tops of the fingers.
Use your thumbs to stretch the forehead gently from the centre outwards.
Stroke the tips of your forefingers down the line of the jaw, from the front of the ear until your fingers meet in the middle of the chin.
Draw small circles on the skin just in front of the ears.
Stroke the bridge of the nose, then down the sides of the nose and across the cheekbones
Stroke from the bridge of the nose outwards; smoothing the eyebrows.
Run the pads of your thumbs gently down from the centre of the eyebrow and over the eyelid, gently closing baby’s eyes.
Stroke the top lip, finishing in an upward stroke, making the shape of a smile then do the same with the lower lip.
Tell me more
If you would like to learn more, you may like to attend a baby massage course. You could ask your midwife, health visitor, medical centre or maternity hospital for details of local teachers or courses. If you are in the UK, The National Childbirth Trust should have details too. There are also good DVD’s and videos on the subject, available from stores like W.H. Smith and Amazon.
© Susan Bailey 2008 All Rights Reserved
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