The postpartum period, aka the fourth trimester, refers to the six weeks
following childbirth. During this period nature un-does what was created over the last
nine months. It can be an intense period of physical and emotional change for new
mothers. A new mothers body will be relieving itself of extra fluids and the uterus will
begin shrinking back into the pelvic cavity. A dramatic shift in hormones will also
occur. Estrogen and progesterone which were both present during pregnancy
decrease, in which oxytocin and prolactin increase in preparation for breastfeeding.
Massage can be effective in helping mom through this period of transition. A
woman can receive postpartum massage whenever she feels it will be physically
comfortable. In the days and weeks following birth, many women begin to feel the
effects of sleepless nights and around the clock baby care. Massage can ease fatigue
and aid in the removal of excess fluids by increasing circulation. Increasing circulation
will also speed healing time for episiotomies, tears and abdominal incisions.
The benefits of massage after pregnancy and birth are more than just physical.
It is estimated that almost 80% of women experience the postpartum blues,
emotional highs and lows due to the dramatic decrease in hormones. As well a
smaller percentage of new moms experience postpartum depression, a more
profound and enduring form of the “blues”. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, fear
and anxiety may last for weeks and months following birth. Massage can be extremely
beneficial in bringing about a soothing, nurturing, and more natural sense eliminating
For mom’s who deliver by cesarean section, she may face more physical
challenges in recovering from this surgery. If the birth was an unplanned cesarean
section, women may also harbor unexpected feelings of failure, guilt and anger
because the birth did not go as planned. Massage can be a part of the emotional
support and nurturing a woman needs at this very special time.
Stress and anxiety that often accompany breastfeeding can interfere with
mom’s ability to produce milk. This can then lead to frustration and more stress. It is
important for mom to remain calm and committed to her choice to breastfeed.
Massage can help if these challenges arise. Including this type of bodywork into mom
and baby’s routine will increase the likelihood that breastfeeding will be a positive
and contentment filled experience for both mother and baby.
Massage is one of the safest and most effective options for treating both the
physical and emotional challenges that new mothers face. With so much focus on
caring for their newborns, mothers often neglect caring for themselves. When mom
feels nurtured, rejuvenated and revitalized everyone around her benefits!