- By Nicola Leighton
Postnatal Massage - The Fourth Trimester - Luxury or necessity?
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The
woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” – Osho
During pregnancy most women are aware and accepting of the huge changes taking place in their body, the emotional and physical ups and downs that can accompany the fluctuation in hormones, and are generally kind and caring towards themselves and are ready to start slowing down as they enter the third trimester. However, for whatever reason, whether that’s personal or societal expectations, a lot of women are often encouraged to forget all of this the moment their baby is born. There is however a growing awareness of the fourth trimester and the need for recovery
from such a huge body event like birth, no matter how it unfolded. The postnatal body is still going through huge physical changes as your internal organs change in shape and position, your hormones are still going through lots of changes which can impact you emotionally and physically and more than ever it is important that you take things slowly and allow yourself to be nourished and cared for. What was necessary to help keep you physically and mentally healthy during pregnancy is just as important after birth, it’s just that the baby has changed location!
If you found massage beneficial during pregnancy, you will undoubtedly understand how it
could benefit you in your postnatal period. However, if massage is new to you during this
stage of your life, here are some of the benefits you can expect from a postnatal massage.
Connection with your new body. Your body has gone through huge changes over the last
9 months and continues to do all sorts of amazing things. The outline of your body and how
it feels can be quite alien initially after birth, but why not recognise and celebrate what it has
done. A flowing massage over this new landscape can feel both nourishing and
empowering. Be kind to yourself and your body.
Following a c-section the area of your scar may be an area the you find especially difficult to
reconnect with. Having gentle massage in this area once you are fully healed can help with
this re connection as well as helping to encourage optimal functioning of the new scar tissue.
You are also welcome to come for a massage in the earlier postnatal period. The area of
your scar would not be treated at this stage and adaptations would be made to keep you
Help with emotional health. With new motherhood there can be many emotional changes
and challenges. While you might be filled with love for your baby, this can also be
accompanied by anxiety over doing “the right thing”, depression over the changes to your life
as you knew it and the emotional exhaustion from constantly caring for someone else.
These are all totally normal feelings that can be helped by having some time to be the one
being cared for and allowing the deep relaxation of a massage calm down your autonomic
nervous system and encourage the re balancing of your hormones. Having an hour to
yourself can be a huge help in itself, however we are happy to accommodate your baby so
that you can bring them with you if need be. If feelings of anxiety or depression do become
intrusive, it is always advisable to talk to a health visitor or doctor to seek out help.
Improved sleep. I’m not going to suggest that having a postnatal massage will help your
baby sleep for longer, but it will make it easier for you to drop off to sleep when the
opportunity arises and help improve the quality of your sleep. This is because a deeply
relaxing massage encourages the release of calming hormones that improve your sleep.
Relief from muscular aches and pains. In the postnatal period you might experience
muscular aches and pains if you’ve been in an uncomfortable position whilst feeding your
baby, from carrying the growing weight of your baby or postural changes due to weakened
abdominal muscles. Massage can be a fantastic way to alleviate this tension and pain in
your body, using a variety of techniques that can be used in a side lying position until it is
comfortable to lie on your front.
Please know that if you've come for a postnatal massage or any treatment for that matter,
we will be more than happy to see you arrive in your pyjamas, with no make-up, with hairy
legs and the odd bit of baby vomit on your clothes, because none of that matters. What
matters is that you are here so that we can help nourish and replenish you during this precious postnatal period.