By Phyllis Hanlon
Once your client has delivered her baby, she has even more reason to continue getting regular massage. The physical and emotional stress of delivery can become exacerbated as she adjusts to her new role as a mother. You helped her weather the discomfort and anxiety of her pregnancy; now it’s time to help restore her prepregnancy health.
Massage might be the last thing on a new mom’s mind, but it could be one of the best things she does for herself. So how long after delivery should your client wait to schedule her massage? The answer is, it depends. Some new mothers have massage within 24 hours after delivery, while others wait a few days or weeks. Your client’s obstetrician may provide guidelines and should always give approval for that first massage after a baby’s arrival.
Once your client does book an appointment, she can expect benefits similar to what she would receive from a massage in other circumstances. However, in this situation, you’ll focus on addressing issues directly related to the birth. In most cases, the process of delivery involves significant physical exertion with particular strain on the abdomen, back and hips. Massaging the abdomen helps to restore tone to muscles that have been stretched for nine months. Additionally, manipulating skin in the abdominal area helps to shrink the uterus and break up subcutaneous scar tissue and may also reduce cramps and muscle spasms.
The physical stress of carrying a growing fetus over the course of nine months can affect a woman’s posture. Working the back muscles with trigger-point therapy or deep massage can alleviate back pain and improve posture.
Nursing mothers may find their breasts are tender or sore and, in some cases, quite painful. If ducts are blocked, breast massage can help to open them up, reducing the risk of developing mastitis. (Note: Check with your state law for any restrictions regarding the use of breast massage in your practice.)
Not only does massage help relieve the physical aftereffects of delivery, but it can also address emotional repercussions. During pregnancy and after delivery, a woman’s hormonal balance shifts dramatically, causing baby blues or, more seriously, postpartum depression. Massage helps to regulate hormones; adding oils, such as bergamot, grapefruit, orange and geranium, to the session can enhance emotional benefits.
While massage offers many benefits for the new mom, there are times when massage after delivery should be avoided. Basically, follow the same guidelines you use when your client is in her third trimester. You should nix deep legwork, since it may induce clots. If your client has a rash, blisters, boils or open wounds, you should advise her to wait until these conditions have healed. Women who have had a cesarean section may want to resume massage only after their incision heals. It’s not advisable to do massage on your client with any medical complication, including high blood pressure. And if during delivery your client developed a hernia, she should put off massage until she gets clearance from her doctor.
Giving massage to a woman who has just delivered a baby can be rewarding, not only for her personally, but also for her ability to care for her newborn.
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