Is postpartum massage necessary?
A letter to you from Nik Adis, founder of Nik’s Bodywork International.
After nine months of pregnancy, nothing can compare to the joy of finally meeting your beautiful baby. Just as your new baby will need attention and care, so do must mothers care for themselves throughout their perinatal journey, from before conception, throughout pregnancy, labour and post birth.
The childbearing process alters the emotional and physical aspects - rapid weight gains, bodily discomforts, changes in posture and balance and, as women labour and give birth, deep and intense sensations and emotions - everything from joy to disappointment - exist. In this process, women need comfort, reassurance, confidence, guidance and skilled maternity care during childbirth. After birth, many have pain or a need to heal some parts of the body and mind. Women functioning on less sleep due to caring for the baby, may feel vulnerable with no time for themselves, and possibly experience a lack of confidence in mothering capabilities.
Massage is a common alternative therapy recommended throughout the perinatal journey. This includes prenatal massage, post massage, perineum massage and lactation massage. Anecdotally, massage is shown to be effective during pregnancy as it reduces depression (particularly IVF conception), anxiety, leg and back pain. In my experience, women who receive massage during pregnancy experience fewer prenatal complications, less pain and shorter labours, as well as lower incidence of prematurity and low birthweight for newborns. Postpartum depression and cortisol levels are often decreased in massaged women.
Many mothers find that their body swells during labour. Massaging can help to redistribute water within the body and encourage the draining and circulation of excess fluids. For mums seeking an increase in their breast milk supply, massage can be a great way to increase circulation and the necessary hormones to increase milk production. The postpartum body is one of constantly fluctuating hormones. In addition to touch, many massages involve essential oils that may help elevate your mood and may encourage hormonal balance, and get your body ready for deep, restorative sleep.
The concept of wrapping or binding during pregnancy (known in Singapore as Jamu herbal wraps) and the postpartum period is not new; many traditional cultures around the world have been belly binding mothers for centuries. The practice has been found in Asian, West African, and Latin American cultures, to name a few. It is often regarded as the crucial first step in the healing process after birth.
In many areas of the world, women are expected to have a ‘lying in’ confinement period of at least one month after birth to jumpstart postpartum recovery: this is a period of time in which new mothers are in resting positions most of the day, only caring for the most basic needs of her baby and herself.
In today’s world, the modern mother rarely experiences the immediate postpartum period as a healing one. Often exhausted and overworked, the new mother’s body takes much longer than a few weeks to fully repair itself. Often, women find themselves dealing with weak abdominal muscles for months or even years after pregnancy. A weak core leads to chronic back pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction, such as urinary incontinence, is more commonly found in women with diastasis recti.
The goal of belly binding in the first few weeks postpartum is to quickly support the body and discourage further separation of the muscles, as life with a new baby gets busy. Along with a healthy diet, lots of rest, and self-care practices, postpartum belly binding may help prevent long-term diastasis recti, back pain, posture issues, and pelvic floor muscle weakness.
Nik Adis | Nik’s Bodywork
Nik Satunah Adis, founder of Nik’s Bodywork is an ITEC (International Therapy Examining Council, United Kingdom) and certified pregnancy massage practitioner from NurtureLife Australia. She is qualified in manual lymphatic drainage (Dr. Vodder), a Reiki practitioner, and a qualified ‘Family Constellation facilitator’, trained by Stephan Hausner from Munich, Germany, and Chris Walsh from Melbourne, Australia.
Aside from working on numerous local and expatriate women in Singapore and abroad, Nik has supported mothers in delivering babies as a trained birth doula in rural villages in Indonesia as well. Nik believes that pregnancy bodywork and massage is a work of science, art and meditation. And what matters most is the state of ‘consciousness’ of the pregnant mum and the practitioner.
With 23 years of doing bodywork professionally, Nik constantly upgrades herself in re-education and has successfully conceptualised her own techniques and skills. In Singapore, Nik has successfully trained several therapists who are, and have made their way in becoming, professional massage therapists.
Genah and her team aim to pamper and care for mothers at every step of their journey, through pregnancy and motherhood. Beauty Mums & Babies (BMB) helps massage away pregnancy tensions with water-soluble massage oils designed with mums and bumps in mind, keeping their skin hydrated whilst preventing stretch marks. BMB’s proprietary TCM and Javanese postnatal massage techniques also aid mums in their recovery after childbirth. If you’re having breastfeeding issues, do pop a lactation massage onto your radar. Looking for wellness programs to keep yourself fit during and after pregnancy? They offer somatic therapy and yoga classes for mums-to-be and parents. Baby massage and baby care and infant first-aid workshops are available.
Inspire Mum & Baby
Inspire Mum & Baby specialises in a massage therapy called myofascial release. Myofascial release is a gentle massage and movement therapy for the treatment of motion and pain issues and also works on postural adjustments to release tension. It targets the fascia, a type of connective tissue that wraps around most structures within the human body, including muscles, veins, and major organs. Fascia supports and protects these structures. Women generally have body/muscle aches and cramps, fatigue, tension on the shoulders, back and legs due to sedentary lifestyles, carrying of babies and kids, and during pregnancy, work and family stress. Myofascial release helps to reduce the discomfort, feeling free and tall with fewer restrictions to mobility. The benefits include improving blood circulation, posture, breathing, psychosomatic conditions and insomnia.
Health 2 Mama
Heatlh 2 Mama provides pregnancy and postnatal massage for mums at home or in their clinic at Telok Ayer. Having a massage by a physio can help with symptomatic relief and can also address other issues such as C-section tenderness and adhesions, tummy soreness, breastfeeding relief and also relieve aches and pains in the joints and muscles.
Angelyn Soh | Tree of Life Birth
Prenatal and postnatal home massages are conducted at your home and Tree of Life Birth will supply the massage table. Angelyn also offers doula services, Bradley Method prenatal classes, and placenta encapsulation.