The advantages of massage during pregnancy, labor, and after
birth truly are amazing -- for you and your baby.
Massage during pregnancy and labor can help:
Reduce back pain, bring better sleep, and improve
Enable fewer complications for the mother while in labor
and facilitates fewer postnatal complications for the infant.
Strengthen the immune system, decrease blood pressure,
and increase blood supply to the developing infant.
Reduce maternal anxiety, decrease stress hormone levels,
increase milk production, and enhance placental function.
Decrease postpartum depression, irritability, and
exhaustion thereby improving mother-infant bonding.
Decrease labor time by 25 to 50%.
Reduce C-Section rate by 50%.
Decrease medication usage by 30%.
Decrease forceps usage by 30%.
Decrease Epidural usage by 60%.
The Gift of Infant Massage: Loving Touch
to Grow On
Diana Roberts Moore, L.M.P., Information for People, Inc.
As a parent, loving relative or caregiver of an infant, you
want to see your child flourish. Touch is as important as food for
healthy mental and physical development--a fact clearly supported by both
ancient tradition and contemporary research. Massage is attentive,
pleasurable touch that can promote your baby's well-being while increasing
your ability to respond to his or her needs.
Bonding with Your Baby
Bonding, that unique and close attachment between you and
your child is enhanced with the observant and sensitive care of massage.
The elements of bonding are inherent in infant massage: eye contact, skin
contact, smiles, soothing sounds, smell, and loving communication.
Responding to your baby's smiles, frowns, and squirms in this comforting way
can reinforce the trust between the two of you, a trust which can provide
the foundation of your relationship for years to come.
For fathers, massage offers a special opportunity to develop
ease and intimacy with their children. This holds true for
grandparents or other relatives, professional caregivers, and anyone wishing
to develop closeness with babies in their care and to help them thrive.
Research Tells the Story
The positive effects of infant massage have been well
researched in studies such as those sponsored by UNICEF and the University
of Miami School of Medicine. Among the results of the major studies
Children and infants who were massaged showed improved
sleeping patterns, diminished anxious behavior and significantly reduced
stress indicators such as heart rate and stress hormone levels.
Premature babies who were regularly massaged gained
weight faster, performed better on developmental tasks, acquired mental
and motor skills earlier, and were more relaxed than non-massaged
babies. Early touch also benefited the developing nervous systems
of these infants.
In India, where infant massage has passed down through
generations, studies showed that babies massaged by their mothers
developed both mentally and physically well beyond normal expectations
given their malnourished condition.
Institutionalized infants who received extra touch developed
visual attentiveness earlier than babies who didn't. Visually impaired
babies whose parents touched them early and often were able to reach toward
sounds sooner than other babies.
Nurturing Your Older Child
It's never too late to make massage a part of your child's
life. Massage can calm children during emotional upsets and relieve
the discomforts of illness. It can also help ease the pain of tension
headaches and muscle aches or cramps. Children diagnosed with
attention deficit disorder (ADD) or hyperactivity who receive massage often
concentrate better, cry less, and sleep better.
Over time, receiving massage can help a child create a more
positive body image and enhance emotional security. It can help teach
them the importance of self-nurturing and preventative health care at an
If Your Baby Has Special Needs
If you are the parent of an infant with special needs, your
child may communicate her or his needs differently than other babies.
Giving a focused massage allows you to learn more about your baby's unique
signals. Massage may also help your baby cope with the physical
stresses or disabilities she or he may have to live with.
For drug-exposed infants, massage relieves tension and pain,
helping these babies shift their attention from physical discomfort to
pleasurable experience. Their weight gain also increases with daily
Parent to Parent
When you ask parents why they massage their infants, here's
what they talk about:
Sleep. Babies who are massaged sleep better, and
are calmer and more alert when awake.
Physical Comfort. Massage stimulates
digestion and elimination. It can also reduce the discomfort of
teething and colds, and help calm fussy babies.
Relaxation. Both normal discomforts and your
baby's need to constantly respond to new experiences can lead to muscle
tension and unease. Massage can help your baby let of tension and
Giving Massage Benefits You, Too
Giving massage can build your understanding of your baby's
cues and your confidence in caring for him or her. You may feel more
satisfied both with the quality of time you spend with your infant and with
your increased ability to help your child relax in times of stress.
You may even find your own tension eased as you perform the gentle movements
with your infant.
The Gift of Infant Massage
The brief time we have with our children is precious.
Learning to massage your baby is an enjoyable way to enhance your infant's
development, deepen loving communication between you and your child, and
provide an opportunity for you and your baby to develop relaxation skills
that can last a lifetime.