I feel guilty writing to you about this, because if you are anything like me in the early weeks after birth, you’ll want a massage with something of the intensity of a craving. I remember just how much I wanted to be stroked, kneaded and unwound. So I’m going to let you in on how to get the time, the headspace and the opportunities to get a massage.
The first way is this: when your closest friends ask before or after baby arrives “What can I get you?”, use these exact words.
“A voucher for a professional post-natal massage and your baby-sitting time.” If you are lucky to receive one of these, be sure that the therapist is experienced in working with new mothers.
Massage is not just an act of pampering; it’s one of the oldest forms of self-care. The sense of touch has therapeutic benefits, which allows the muscles in the body to release, and therefore the mind to relax. It stimulates blood circulation so is an excellent way of activating the lymphatic system, which removes toxins and boosts the body’s immunity. As massage also releases endorphins, it’s a great way to relieve the aches and pains that come from the birthing process; particularly in scarred areas once any open wounds have healed. Especially in the sleep-deprived early days, massage is important because it naturally slows down breathing, which gets the body ready for sleep.
What if you can’t get a professional massage? Then rope in your nearest and dearest; your mum, your best friend or better yet your partner. Massage is a wonderful way to reintroduce intimacy into your relationship. But like all things, preparation can make all the difference.
Select a time when you can be uninterrupted. It’s best to shower before a massage to warm your muscles, so before bedtime can be ideal. Choose an oil you would like, a nourishing base oil like sweet almond or a scented aromatherapy blend with lavender or rose. Be sure to lie on a firm flat surface with supports for your breasts, or lie on your side, which ever is most comfortable. Keep as much of your body covered and warm, only exposing the areas being worked on.
The best technique is probably to start with a soothing series of long stroking circular movements using both palms of your hands. It’s a good technique to use on any part of the body, and it also allows you to decide how much pressure you’d like. Once you get a feel for things, you can ask for more specific pressure to undo knotted areas.
Remember that the point is to lull you into relaxation. Don’t feel bad for asking, for this is as much bliss for your body as it is for your mind - and now, you have the medical facts if anyone needs convincing!