You’ve just had a new baby – congratulations!
Chances are, you can’t remember a time when you’ve been happier than right now. (Or more tired, groggy, smelling of spit-up, and way behind on laundry, but we digress.)
With all the time you’re spending nursing, you’re probably dealing with some serious neck and shoulder aches (7 pounds gets pretty heavy when you’re holding your little bundle day in and day out!).
And right after giving birth, swelling can be a frustrating side effect of all the fluid changes that come with having your baby. Nobody really warned you about how achy and slow-moving your body would be after the monumental task of giving birth. Talk about the biggest workout of your life!
Sidenote: You are an amazing rockstar who birthed a baby! Go you!
So how can you make time to reduce that swelling, ease your stress to help you establish a great breastfeeding relationship with your newborn, and help your whole body recover more quickly from giving birth?
Massage therapy is a great option for solving your postpartum aches and pains.
And before you say “There’s no way I can make time for a massage, plus I’m not leaving the baby with a babysitter yet!” Don’t worry, if you book an in-home massage, you can often request a massage therapist who’s comfortable having the baby in the room during your massage. Or, you can have your partner watch your bundle of joy just a room over while your knots and tension melt away in the comfort of your own home.
Alright, let’s get down to it, and learn exactly why massage is a perfect treatment for speeding up postpartum recovery.
1. Massage can reduce swelling after delivery
So you’re leaving the hospital, thrilled to check out of L&D, but when you go to slip your feet into your favorite shoes, they don’t fit.
In fact, your feet and ankles are so swollen you can barely squeeze them into the fuzzy socks you brought with you!
Postpartum edema (or swelling) happens because the body has naturally been retaining fluid to help the body prepare for childbirth, which it then eliminates after the baby is born.
Almost all women experience at least mild swelling after they give birth and their body re-adjusts its fluid levels.
massage speeds up removal of excess fluid
The waste products of your body’s processes – called lymph fluid – naturally move throughout your body constantly as your muscles flex and extend, but when this elimination of fluid slows, it leads to edema or a buildup of excess fluid.
Massage speeds up this removal of excess fluid by shifting the movement of lymph from the extremities and forcing it back into the veins and lymph vessels where it can be disposed of naturally. Special massage techniques called Lymphatic Drainage are ideal for making this fluid shift.
In fact, when combined with compression bandaging, lymphatic drainage massage can reduce swelling in the legs by up to 70%, according to one study.
In addition to massage, keeping the legs elevated, avoiding standing for too long, and drinking plenty of fluids (although it sounds counter-intuitive!) are also important for reducing postpartum swelling.
2. Massage reduces stress, helping promote a healthy breastfeeding relationship
It might be perfectly “natural,” but anyone who tells you breastfeeding comes easily to everyone doesn’t have their facts straight.
Now that you’re in the thick of the “eat, sleep, poop, repeat” cycle, you understand just how stressful it is to be the sole person responsible for your tiny human’s nutrition.
Unfortunately, when you’re tense and stressed about getting breastfeeding off on the right foot, it actually makes nursing even more difficult since your baby picks up on that tension, causing a negative feedback loop of sorts.
a mom that’s less stressed about nursing will be more successful and less likely to stop breastfeeding early
In addition, research shows that if a mother perceives that she is not meeting her infant’s nutritional needs, it can lead to early cessation of breastfeeding, but if a mother believes that she is successfully feeding her infant, it provides the mother with a positive drive to continue breastfeeding her child. Translation? A mom that’s less stressed about nursing – and believes she can do it! – will be more successful and less likely to stop breastfeeding early.
Massage from a trained and licensed massage therapist can ease your stress, and reduce the neck pain that comes from holding a tiny human still long enough to nurse them 24/7.
Massage has been proven to reduce levels of cortisol – the body’s stress-response hormone – in the body by up to 31%, on average.
In addition, extreme postpartum stress and anxiety can lead to postpartum depression (PPD), and studies show that combined with other treatments massage can be effective for treating PPD.
3. Massage can speed up physical recovery from the challenges of pregnancy
In the days and weeks following delivery, you’ll experience varying levels of soreness throughout your body.
From neck aches due to repetitive movements when holding the baby, to pelvic soreness from shifting bones and ligaments, to low back pain caused by diastasis recti, there are a lot of “growing pains” that come along with growing a small human.
Gentle massage is appropriate as early as a few weeks after giving birth and can ease many of the discomforts associated with the postpartum stage.
A good massage therapist will adjust their routine and techniques to meet your postpartum needs. They may work primarily side-lying, to ease pressure on your tender breasts and still-swollen uterus.
Massage in the early days postpartum can help improve posture – which has been constantly challenged throughout your pregnancy by your growing uterus and shifting pelvis! – which can reduce low back pain.
Finding the right postpartum massage therapist
When you’re knee-deep in the milky snuggles, sleepless nights, and endless laundry of a new baby, the last thing you want to sort out is finding the right postpartum massage therapist. Let us take the guesswork out of it for you. When you schedule an in-home massage with Zeel, you know you’re getting a highly trained and skilled massage therapist, and you can even keep baby close by during the session since the massage is in your own home. So relax, lay back, and let us put your – sleep-deprived, new parent – mind at ease.