One of the greatest ways to nourish and bond with your new baby is through daily infant massage. There are many great benefits to both baby and mother when this becomes part of the daily routine. The ayurveda term for the self massage using warm oil is called Abhyangha. There are many similarities between this self-care treatment that adults benefit from and the loving touch that we can give to our little ones.
When doing the infant massage with your baby, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider before getting started. Provided below is a checklist, and after going through this a few times you’ll be sure to have it down!
This loving touch is among the first communication that your new baby will experience. Language is first developed through the sense of touch and received through the skin of your baby. What a great way to let them know you love them!
Enhances bonding for mom (or dad if he is the one doing massage) and baby
Creates awareness of body-mind-spirit connection
Builds strength in bones, joints and muscles
Going to sleep becomes much easier for baby
Cortisol is reduced and relaxation is improved
Research has shown that infant massage helps to prevent or even reverse colic
Improves circulation and elimination
Enhances the baby’s ability to create ojas, or the finest product of digestion, building strength and immunity
Stimulates release of prolactin in mothers which leads to improving milk supply
Can begin gentle massage in first days after their arrival - this may be the best time to learn together
After having done just a few times, it will happen easefully and like clockwork for both of you
Your ayurvedic postpartum doula will schedule an instruction session with you once the umbilical cord stump has fallen off.
While mornings or evenings are ideal for this massage, you want to make sure that it becomes routine that way you and baby both look forward to it every day.
When done in the morning, you can use more oil and more be more playful with the massage. In the evenings, use not as much oil and less strokes. Bathtime wonderfully follows the massage in the mornings. In the evenings you’ll want to skip the bath after massage to really encourage sleep mode without sudden wakefulness.
When To Skip
If your baby may be sick with any sort of cold or fever, skip the massage
Seek medical advice on massage for a preemie. While touch and gentle massage has shown to be beneficial for preemies, their sense organs and skin are also likely to be very fragile. More holding instead of rubbing may be best at this time.
Do not massage right after feeding or when your baby is hungry. Wait about 30 minutes after feeding.
Grimacing, crying, arching the back or squirming stiffly - these are all movements and cues that may indicate now is not a great time for massage. Something else may be needed.