Coping with postnatal depression through baby massage

Posted by on Sep 3, 2018 in Latest News | 0 comments

me-and-my-baby-massageBecoming a new parent brings lots of joy but also can bring many challenges. Shifting hormones, extreme exhaustion and sleep deprivation can make it difficult for mums to bond with baby. The sudden sense of responsibility for this little helpless human can be overwhelming. Sometimes mums feel they’re failing or even resentful towards their baby if they do not have that immediate bond they think should have, especially if it’s been a traumatic birth or breastfeeding is difficult.

Some mums and babies are not ready to connect. If baby is pre-term and spent time in the neo-natal unit, the separation can make the bonding process a challenge. Bonding attachment does not necessarily happen immediately. It takes time for parents to understand cues, cries and interpret signals. As time goes on it becomes easier and parents are able to respond to baby’s needs.

If a mum is experiencing PND, baby’s cues can be missed. They may start to feel distant from baby and experience anxiety. For some, it can be a struggle to look at baby, let alone hold or comfort them. Everyday tasks, such as feeding, changing or caring for themselves can be a real trial and it can be difficult to overcome the lowness. Not everyone recognises that they have PND, just assume it’s the baby-blues, post-birth tiredness and they should just put on a brave face. It’s common for mums to be afraid to admit to how they are feeling in case they are seen not be a ‘fit enough mother’ or ‘baby might be taken off them’.

Baby massage can be one coping strategy when experiencing PND. Massaging baby can help make mums feel better with their overall well-being, encouraging them to communicate with baby, verbally and non verbally. Massage stimulates and releases the feel good hormone, oxytocin, around their body. Massage also releases oxytocin in baby’s body as they feel the positive effects of the strokes. As mum performs massage, she can make direct eye contact with their little one and see the how much they enjoy it.  Singing rhymes is a form of verbal communication, babies love the singy-songy voice of their parents and love listening to their voice – no matter how bad the singing may be! The environment should be low key with no other noise distractions so the focus is on each other. Gradually, the bond strengthens between mummy and baby and this in turn will help mum to feel more positive and confident.

Sometimes the thought of  getting out of the house, joining a baby group and talking to other mums can be incredibly daunting. Joining a baby massage course is a wonderful activity to start with as classes can be taken from when baby is around 5 weeks old. Slowly learn the skills of massage and build up strokes. Small group classes provide mums opportunity to meet other mums, share experiences and make new friends.  Chatting over tea and cake is the perfect way to end a relaxing class. Many mums who have attended classes have experienced PND and it’s good to see them flourish and becoming more confident with themselves and their baby over the duration of the course.

Not everyone wants to join a course and sessions can be taught as home visits if mums are not ready to face the world just yet. Learning useful tips of massage strokes will help mums cope and get through this perinatal time and start feeling strong again.

Remember it’s OK not to be OK. Mums should not be afraid to seek help if experiencing depression. There is more awareness of perinatal depression, pre and post birth. Start with speak with the midwife, health visitor or GP.  There is also lots of online support groups.  PANDAS (Pre and post natal support) offers online and telephone helpline. 0843 28 98 401.

Useful links:

pandasfoundation.org.uk

nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/

nct.org.uk

www.rehabformums.com – local online magazine to support new mums.