The nine months of pregnancy might have been beautiful but physically challenging too. Now you’re a mom and have to care of the little one. But it is also necessary for you to take care of yourself and recover from the delivery.
Therefore, you might want to have a postnatal massage. This MomJunction post tells you about getting a massage after childbirth, its benefits, techniques, and precautions to take.
What Is Postpartum Massage?
A postpartum massage is a complete body massage given to the new mom to soothe and relax her mind and body, and also alleviate any pain or soreness in the body. A good massage can support the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of the mother (1).
Following childbirth, you can take an appointment with a masseuse or massage therapist who specializes in postpartum massages.
When Can You Get A Postpartum Massage After Delivery?
You may opt for a postpartum massage when you feel you are comfortable. Whether you’ve had a cesarean section or vaginal delivery, you will need around six to eight weeks for complete recovery (2). Ideally, it is best to wait until you are fully recovered after the delivery and then get a massage. However, it is good to consult your healthcare provider before you schedule one.
Benefits Of Massage After Delivery
Listed below are some benefits that massage therapy offers after you give birth (3).
- Relieves pain: Body pains, particularly in the lower back, hips, and abdomen, are normal due to pregnancy. Massage can help relax these sore muscles and ease the pain.
- Reduces swelling: The blood volume increases by around 50% during pregnancy, and body fluids are to be balanced after pregnancy (4). Postpartum massage helps improve circulation and stimulate lymphatic drainage to eliminate fluids and toxins from the body.
- Helps you sleep better: Massage therapy eases the fatigue, provides relaxation, and makes you sleep better.
- Opens blocked ducts: A gentle massage therapy could remove the hardened lumps and open the blocked ducts in the breast, thereby lowering the risk of mastitis. On the other hand, a vigorous massage can worsen the mastitis.
- Improves post-delivery recovery: Commonly experienced postpartum blues such as depression and anxiety are related to hormonal changes. Massage could help treat depression and other baby blues, and it improves mood too (5).
The massage techniques used and the position you rest in during the massage can improve the outcome of the massage.
Best Positions For A Post-pregnancy Massage
As any position is safe after pregnancy, you can settle into the most comfortable position.
The side-lying or seated position is comfortable lets the masseuse focus on the shoulders, legs, pelvis, and suits those who have had a cesarean section.
Some mothers may like facing down on their tummy as they have restricted this position for quite a long time during pregnancy. But some may feel uncomfortable with their leaking or engorged breasts.
Postpartum Massage Techniques
Massage therapy after delivery is effective when you seek help from a professional masseuse. Some of the techniques that these therapists might consider giving after delivery are as follows.
- Swedish massage: Also called the Classic massage, it is a combination of long strokes with kneading, shaking, and tapping movements. It is a refreshing and relaxing massage that gives you a feeling of overall well-being (6).
- Jamu massage: Followed by Indonesians, this massage technique uses various herbs extracted from the roots, barks, and flowers of medicinal plants. The firm strokes of the massage could tighten and strengthen the stomach muscles, and help flatten the stomach (7).
- Foot reflexology: The basic foot massage stimulates acupressure points of the feet, which is associated with the different organs of the body. It can, therefore, relieve postpartum depression, fatigue, and stress (8).
- Herbal baths: They constitute a part of postnatal massage where water infused with different herbs, spices, and roots is used. That bath is given after the massage and helps treat sore veins, and refresh the body (9).
- Acupressure: Pressure is applied to different pressure points to relieve pains and discomforts.
When Should You Avoid Postnatal Massage?
You should avoid a postnatal massage if you have/had:
- Cesarean section; wait until the incision is healed
- Skin conditions such as blisters, boils, eczema and rashes
- Hernia and high blood pressure
Make sure that you talk to your doctor before getting a massage. This helps you figure out the right kind of massage to get and the right time to get it.
Precautions For Postnatal Massage If You Had C-section
Here are some essential things to remember before getting a postpartum massage:
- Choose a trained massage therapist
- Allow the cesarean incision to heal completely before massaging, as it could be prone to infections
- Avoid getting an abdominal massage until it is fully healed. In the meantime, the focus should be on the head, back, arms and legs
- Avoid putting pressure on the tummy
- Lie down sideways for a back massage
- Refrain from massaging the nipples for the safety and hygiene of the baby
Some massage therapists may use oils of specific herbs and fragrances. However, not all may be suitable for you.
Which Oil Is The Best For Postpartum Massage?
Most of the high-grade oils are safe for massages as they are non-allergenic after delivery. You may have to pick the oil that suits you, considering its smell and allergic reactions if any. For that, you may have to try different oils.
Go for a patch test by applying the oil on a small patch of your skin. Check for allergic reactions such as itchiness, redness, or hives. Also check if your baby is comfortable with the smells, as you will be holding the baby and the odor remains even after the bath. If your baby gets fussy because of the smell, try something less pungent or odorless.
Some of the oils you may choose are sweet almond, mustard, coconut, olive, sesame, and herbal oils.
Why Do They Massage The Uterus After Birth?
Uterine massage is recommended after delivery to reduce postpartum blood loss, and also to reduce the pain associated with uterine muscle contraction (10).
After the baby’s birth, massage can play a vital role in your recovery process. The therapy will either include deeper work on relieving physical health or deep relaxation techniques for both physical and mental well-being. Choose a massage therapy that is best for you and follow all precautions to get the best possible outcome from the massage sessions.
Did you go for a postpartum massage after pregnancy? How was your experience, and how did it aid in the recovery? Write to us about your experience in the comment section below.
2. The New Mother – Taking Care of Yourself After Birth; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
3. Benefits of Massage After Giving Birth; Renaissance College (2017)
4. Hytten F.; Blood volume changes in normal pregnancy; Clinics in Haemtology
5. A. Rothstein; Prenatal & Postpartum Massage: Massage for the Mind, Body & Spirit; Minnesota School of Cosmetology (2018)
6. What Is a Swedish Massage; Fremont College
7. Malaysian Ethnicity And Background; Cultural dimensions of pregnancy, birth and post-natal care
8. Choi MS and Lee EJ; [Effects of Foot-Reflexology Massage on Fatigue, Stress and Postpartum Depression in Postpartum Women]; J Korean Acad Nurs (2015)
9. Valera Hascup; Cultural Expressions, Meanings, Beliefs, and Practices of Mexican American Women During the Postpartum Period: An Ethnonursing Study; Duquesne University (2011)