9 months ago a little bundle of pure joy arrived in my life. It was the most precious yet scary moment of my life. It was precious because I was holding my world and scary because he was extremely delicate. I’m sure every woman who holds her baby for the first time goes through these moments and instinctively we all develop that protective and motherly feeling in us. But as first time mothers we are unsure of how to take care of our baby that we rely on outside help. I did exactly the same thing.
When my baby was born, a masseuse was hired to bathe and massage him so that I could rest and replenish the energy I had lost during labor and birth. Every morning the masseuse would come and start preparing to massage my baby. She would sit on the floor with her legs extended and put my baby on her legs and start rubbing his body vigorously. She would twist his arms and legs and rub his face without a care in the world about how badly my child was crying. You must be wondering as a mother what was I doing? I was a silent spectator because I was told babies should cry while being massaged. Babies need to be massaged vigorously. This is the best massage technique for the baby to develop physically. Yes, I was a naive first time mom.
2 weeks went by and despite of being a mother I couldn’t develop that loving bond with my baby. And every massage session of my baby was not just a torture for him but for me too. Finally after lot of contemplation my husband and I decided that rather than letting anyone else massage our baby, we should take the reins in our hands.
The very next day I got ready to massage my baby. Being a slim girl I was not comfortable to put him on my legs. So I spread a dry sheet on the bed and comfortably laid my baby on it. Since it was winters, I used mustard oil to massage him. I was excited but anxious. I was worried what if I hurt my baby or what if he reacts in the same way he reacted when the baby masseuse massaged him. And with feather like hands I started massaging him (Thanks to my mom, mom-in-law and Lamaze classes for the massage techniques).
Most of the time I would massage my baby and there were days when my husband would massage him too. Today I would like to share my learning’s with to-be parents and new parents why it’s important for you to massage your baby.
Massage benefits for the baby:
- Parents touch is a vital means of communication for a baby. When a parent lovingly massages her baby it acts as a primary psychological food for the newborn.
- Gentle massages are the best physical therapy to relax a crying infant and put him to ease. Unlike our baby masseuse I ensured that I provide a comfortable environment and use gentle strokes so that my baby feels relaxed rather than agitated after the massage session.
- Earlier my baby would not fall asleep after his massage and bathing session with the masseuse. Probably he was anxious. But once I started massaging and bathing him he slept well and that too for a good 1.5-2 hours (Huge blessing for me).
- I often researched on various massage techniques for different infant ailments and used them on my little one whenever he faced issues such as ear pain, abdominal pain, colic, constipation, etc. Believe me these techniques immensely helped my baby.
- I also believe that daily massaging my baby has helped in his immunity development.
- Daily massage and exercise techniques helped my baby to strengthen his motor skills. My baby is flexible, more aware about his body and has good muscle control.
- One thing that I noticed in my little one was that not just breast milk but also regular massage sessions helped him gain weight. I was doubtful but my pediatric verified that Massages do help children gain weight and strengthens their body.
- Infants tend to catch cold but that too can be relieved through gentle chest, face and feet massage. My baby was 2 months old when he caught his first cold and massaging him helped overcome it.
Massage benefits for the parents:
- Every morning when I would sit for the massage session I could feel immense love, trust and acceptance from my baby.
- Massaging my baby helped me to find the motherly feelings that I had lost during the initial weeks of my delivery.
- As a mother I developed a strong bond with my baby and every day I would look forward to our massage sessions.
- In parenting, fathers mostly play a second role but personally I don’t believe so. Fathers should be equally involved in a child’s nurturing as a mother and one of the best ways to do it is for the father to massage his baby. Today my husband loves to massage our son and my son adores his massage sessions with his father.
- During the massage sessions, I don’t just massage my baby but also we talk and sing songs. Massages have been a wonderful way to develop both verbal and non verbal communication between us.
- The quality time that I spent with my son helped me to overcome from my post natal depression.
From the time I became a first time mom to now, I can proudly say that I am a more confident and happy mom and believe in my parenting skills. Today both my husband and I have a stronger bond with our son than what we started out with.
In conclusion I would like to tell all parents to please trust in your instincts. Learn different massage techniques because it is a wonderful way to bond with your child and you can help relieve him from minor ailments. I agree help in the initial stages is important but what is more important is to take care of your child yourself. Remember infant massage has been known to help lay the foundation for a stronger and unique parent-child bond.