Birth Partner Preparation for Massage During Labor
During pregnancy a woman's body undergoes tremendous changes, and all in a relatively short space of time. These changes occur not only physically, but emotionally too. The overall goal of pregnancy massage is to help to minimize stress, promote relaxation and help prepare the muscles for childbirth.
Massage during pregnancy can help to relieve:
Lower back pain
Tension in the neck and shoulders
Swollen hand and feet
Labor is both physically and emotionally demanding for the mother. Birth partners often feel at a loss as to how to help at this time. Learning the massage techniques specifically designed for use during labor not only gives the birth partner a positive role to play, but also helps the mother at the same time.
Easing muscular tension
Relieving calf cramps
Relaxing tight muscles
Aiding relaxation and energy conservation
Lowering blood pressure
Helping the mother to focus her breathing
Provide a safe, non-invasive form of pain relief
"Doula" is an ancient Greek word for "servant" or "handmaiden" and has come to refer to "A woman who is experienced in childbirth, and who provides continuous physical, emotional and information support to a woman before, during and immediately after childbirth". A doula offers help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. A massage doula also uses massage techniques which can help the mother to have a more positive birth experience.
Having a doula present at the birth can help to:
Shorten the length of labor
Reduce the need for pain medication
Reduce the need for epidurals
Reduce the need for Caesarean sections
Reduce the need for forceps or vacuum extraction
Enhances the mother's birth experience
Scheduling regular massages after delivery helps reduce the time your body needs to regain its former shape and return to its pre-pregnant state. Postnatal bodywork helps reposition the pelvis and spine after delivery. It also helps reprogram muscles to respond to the sudden loss of ten to fourteen pounds, and aids in realigning the posture to support the postpartum distribution of weight.
Special massage techniques restore muscle tone to abdominal muscles stretched by pregnancy. Massage therapy helps relieve upper back muscles which must support fuller breasts and the added weight of carrying an infant. Regular massage therapy can also alleviate neck and shoulder pain associated with breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
Finally, massage can help speed the healing of a Cesarean incision.
Infant massage has been practiced in many cultures since ancient times, and is now being rediscovered in the West. Clinical research has shown that positive, loving, nurturing touch has an important impact on an infant's development. Infant massage is something that every parent can learn - providing benefits to both the infant and parent.
Infant massage can:
Help promote bonding between the parent and infant
Enhance the parents' ability to understand their baby's needs
Soothe babies and help improve sleep patterns
Aid digestion and help to relieve colic, gas, and constipation
Help to calm babies' emotions and relieve stress
Help develop muscle tone, co-ordination and suppleness