Recovery After Birth
A great guest blog this week from Elise of YOU Massage Therapy in Southampton on recovery after birth.
There’s quite a bit of information around about massage during pregnancy – after all, while your body is morphing and changing, relief and comfort are vital to keep you sane. But what about after your baby’s born? What about the changes no one talks about – the morphing and shaping of your body into something you’ve never seen before and might not have expected? Can massage be any use then?
The short answer is yes. Definitely!
Massage for post-pregnancy recovery
Talking about post-pregnancy body changes is still a conversation that people aren’t willing to have – everyone dreams that their body will return to what it was before their pregnancy, and it can be a nasty shock when your body doesn’t. Post-pregnancy bodies are stretched, sore, and wonky… New parent bodies are tired, stooped, and ache all over. Massage is absolutely a useful tool for post-pregnancy recovery helping you get used to your new body and your new lifestyle.
Recovery after Birth
From a physical viewpoint there are two main changes – your body recovering from pregnancy, and your body changing to care for your new baby. Massage as part of your pregnancy recovery can be used to help with improving the tone and repair of the muscles that have moved, stretched, and parted during your pregnancy – directing them back to where they should be, and retraining them to work again. Even something as simple as increasing circulation to these tissues can help get them back on track and improve their elasticity. Then there are the muscles that have supported your pregnancy – that spot in your lower back that’s been holding on tight, your glutes and thighs that’ve been holding up your extra baby-weight, and the place between your shoulder blades that’s been trying in vain to stop your shoulders slouching forwards as your growing breasts pulled and weighed you down. Now that the baby’s out, all of these muscles need to change how they work – they need to relax, and support you supporting your baby instead. Massage can soothe and relax them, convince them to let go, and redirect them to support your new structure and requirements.
Support for Looking after Baby
Now to the baby – if you are lucky enough to end your pregnancy with a baby, your body now needs to support you lifting, carrying, feeding, holding, rocking, and cuddling… then there’s the extra washing, the midnight and 4am feeds, the visitors… On the physical side, massage can help with your posture – all that bending into the crib, leaning forward to coo into a pram, bending your neck to watch your baby sleep in your arms. How’s your neck and back? Need some attention? Does one arm hurt from always holding your baby and the other shoulder hurt from doing everything one-handed? These are the common physical discomforts we hear about with new babies (and these go for new dads too!). Massage can reduce and relax these muscles – give them a break while they’re building up to being able to do this full-time. Massage can also help you with your posture, looking at ways to do all of these movements without breaking your body – sometimes the changes we suggest are easy, and if they’re too hard, then it’s up to us to come up with a better idea to help you out!
Massage for Emotional Balance
Now… the other side of a new baby. The emotions. You are now waking up multiple times a night (and it’s not just your bladder anymore – you now have to function and focus at 4am!), and your hormones are changing all over again. You thought you had made it through pregnancy hormones, and now you’re suddenly crying because there’s only one red M&M in the packet? Don’t worry – you are allowed to feel like this! Between the sleeplessness, the visitors, and the hormones, let yourself be human. Let yourself feel whatever you need to; to get you through it.
Now imagine spending an hour in a dark quiet room, relaxing, while an amazing massage therapist puts your muscles and stresses at ease, and gives you an hour to yourself. Sound good? Are you imagining the foot massage? The scalp and face?
Sound scary? Not sure you can handle being alone for an hour? Don’t fret – many massage therapists will allow you to bring a new baby (and a spouse if needed) to a massage so that you don’t spend the hour fretting that you’ve left your baby behind. There may only be certain times of day when this is possible (e.g. quiet times at the studio), but there will be times. Otherwise, consider having a therapist come to your home – there are a number of very good mobile therapists, and you can have your massage without any of the worry of disrupting whatever routines you are trying to build.
Massage after your pregnancy can make just as much (or even more) difference to your comfort as it did during your pregnancy. It can relieve your aches and pains, aid the repair and return of your comfort, and give your brain and emotions time out at a time when you won’t get much of that.
Massage Gift Voucher
If you know someone who’s recently given birth, consider a massage gift voucher – whether they use it in the first six months or the second, it’ll be an amazing relief!
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Elise is a Massage Therapist with YOU Massage Therapy in Southampton, England. She is trained in pregnancy and post-partum massage, as well as sports and remedial massage. Her primary training institutions were the London College of Massage and the London School of Sports Massage, and her passions are continued education and massage to improve discomfort from physical conditions.