By Louise Atkinson – Certified Birth/Postnatal Doula, Certified Hypnobirthing & International Association of Infant Massage Instructor
Baby Massage benefits for not only baby but for Mummy too!
When I had my first child I remember feeling very lonely and totally inexperienced. I have always been confident but finding my way as a mum was a whole new ball game!
I studied Psychology at University in the UK where I am from and I had always wanted to be a midwife with a passion for anything medical, pregnancy and baby related. My Mum had always worked in social services with families and had really inspired me to want to make a difference to the parenting community. After a number of years after graduating I worked in Recruitment and HR with people. However, after having my two children I decided it was time to follow my passion. So in 2016 Dou La La was born and six years later I adore my small business more than ever and I am never ever tired of the work that I do for mums, dads, families, and their babies.
About the baby massage instructor
I am Certified as a Birth/Postnatal Doula, Wise Hippo Hypnobirthing Instructor and an Infant Massage Instructor (trained by the Gold Standard International Association of Infant Massage).
I run weekly baby massage classes in blocks of 5 week courses and I am so grateful that these are always so full.
There has been much research including that of Tiffany Field who observed increased weight gain in preterm babies that were massaged as well as so many other incredible benefits to babies themselves including relief from colic, constipation, digestive challenges, increased sleep, relaxation, calm and tolerance as well as those nurturing feelings of security, love and attachment but I struggle to put into words the benefits that coming to a weekly baby massage class provides to new mums, second time mums, mums of multiples and mums for the third, fourth and fifth times round as there are just so many!
I know all the first time mums reading this will be nodding heads when I say the thought of going out with your baby in those early newborn days seems so daunting and unachievable!
The easiest thing to do is to stay home where nobody can see you, judge you, provide their opinions on what you should be doing as a mum or tell you how many hours a night your ‘good’ baby should be sleeping!
However, I also know you’ll agree that once you take those initial steps out into the world with your beautiful new baby surrounded by the right people then confidence starts to grow and grow. You begin to feel empowered and in control of your decisions as a new Mum and enjoy the experience you deserve with your baby especially when time is sometimes so precious for those off on maternity leave for short periods of time in the UAE.
At what age you can start your baby massage classes
By coming to baby massage classes when your baby is still very small (suitable from birth but ideal age to start is from 3-4 weeks) you gain access to a whole world of postnatal support, care, love and often very long lasting friendships with other mummies and their babies.
Benefits of baby massage for the mother
Seeing your baby grow over five weeks and you grow as a mother is rewarding, satisfying and fulfilling beyond words as an instructor. The IAIM promotes attachment, bonding, communication through touch, respect and always supports the ethos that you are the expert, your baby is your teacher and will guide you and I am the facilitator of the class demonstrating safety of strokes which is always of paramount importance.
Baby Massage classes for Mums provides a safe haven for often intimate and personal discussion topics, whether that is around birth experiences, feeding challenges, relationships, families, crying babies, sleep deprivation and so much more.
I am there to listen and validate thoughts, feelings and concerns with compassion and sincerity always. There is always a promise at the start of each course to ensure safety, discretion and confidentiality amongst all so mums feel comfortable sharing moments of their journey to and within motherhood.
How does baby massage benefit the mum too?
So how does massaging your baby really support you as a Mum? Scatliffe et al support parent-child contact as a facilitator to enhancing attachment and bonding from an early age.
Touching your baby increases the Oxytocin hormone throughout your body enhancing feelings of love and developing the bond which doesn’t always come naturally.
Baby massage can help prevent post partum depression
It is important to identify that postnatal depression affects more than one in every ten women and baby massage has been linked to lowering instances of PND due to increased levels of oxytocin omitted through touch and the classes provide a platform to support mums in knowing that it is ‘ok not to feel ok’.
Another benefit for mums is that same Oxytxocin hormone also supports the production of prolactin enhancing a breastfeeding mothers milk supply.
Ways for dads to get invloved with breastfed newborns
Then there’s the Dads! Every Mummy needs a break and even though that gorgeous baby you have carried for nine months often loves to snuggle in during that fourth trimester, it can be all consuming and exasperating so a helping hand and involvement from Daddies is always a winner.
I provide weekend Dads classes and Mums can also go home and teach husbands the strokes. It’s a fun, interactive activity for Dads to do and allows Dads of exclusively breastfed babies to take an active part in those newborn days.
Ways for new mums to socialize & more confident
I am lucky enough to have had many Mummies come back for a second (and sometimes third) times and they tell me how they are still connected and in touch with the lovely women they met in previous groups which always makes my heart so full.
Second & third time mummies to get the siblings invloved with the new baby
Those Mummies with more than one child use baby massage as a way of including older siblings that have been used to massage from a young age in my classes and allows them to integrate, help and get involved in a new baby’s life.
In addition, mums of multiple children do not always have the time a first time mum has to dedicate to a new baby in the family, so baby massage classes provide that time each week one to one to spend together, uninterrupted which is always precious.
How baby massage changed my life as an expert
I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for the work I get to do each and every day. It is humbling and always a great reminder of how precious life and family is.
I meet many mummies, all on different journeys. From first time mums, to mums of multiple children, to mums of babies who have been in NICU, to IVF Mums, to single mums, to working mums, to mums of rainbow babies, to bereaved mums, to mums of children with disabilities and many many more, but the fundamentals remain the same.
All mums are finding their way, some how and in some way. Baby massage classes provide and hold space for every mum regardless of their individual situation. The International Association of Infant Massage does not discriminate. All are welcome and all are received into my classes with love, respect and care, always.
I encourage you to come, join and find your tribe!
Read more helpful tips from mom experts in different fields from baby care to parenting specialists, psychotherapists and wellness experts to help you throughout your motherhood journey.