Infant Massage

The following information on the benefits of infant massage has been provided with permission by the International Association of Infant Massage for family’s living with Infant Gastric Reflux.

The four main benefits were originally defined by IAIM founder, Vimala McClure.

STIMULATION RELIEF RELAXATION INTERACTION

STIMULATION – INCLUDES ALL BODY SYSTEMS

  • Digestive system
  • Circulatory system
  • Lymphatic system
  • Immune system
  • Nervous system
  • Brain development
  • Muscular development and tone
  • Growth
  • Hormonal system
  • Skin stimulation
  • Body awareness

RELIEF – HELPS WITH

  • Excess mucus
  • Teething
  • Sinus congestion
  • Wind/Gas/Colic
  • Constipation
  • Digestive pains (Including Gastric Reflux GORD)
  • Muscular tension
  • Disorganisation
  • Sensitivity to touch

RELAXATION – MAY BE DEMONSTRATED OR EXPERIENCED BY

  • Increased deep sleep
  • Regulation of behavioural states
  • Lowering high muscular tones
  • Increased flexibility
  • Reduction of stress levels
  • Higher tolerance to touch
  • Higher levels of oxytocin
  • Enjoyable positive “time out”
  • Less hyper – activity
  • Less hyper – sensitivity
  • Increased environmental coping mechanisms

INTERACTION – INCLUDES

  • Better understanding of baby
  • Reading individual cues
  • Secure attachment
  • Promotion of bonding
  • Verbal/non verbal communication
  • One to one quality time
  • Undivided attention
  • Pre-language communication skills
  • Nurturing touch
  • Eye contact, talking, singing, smelling
  • Respect
  • Influence of calming hormones

babymassage

BENEFITS FOR PARENTS

  • Gives parents permission to touch (that is not sexual or “sissy or abusive.)
  • Helps parents to fall in love with their baby.
  • Quality time. Time to connect.
  • Develops intimate communication.
  • Teaches nurturing parenting skills.
  • Gives a greater awareness of baby’s physical, mental and emotional needs.
  • Increases parents’ confidence, competence and self esteem.
  • Develops bonding/attachment.
  • Allows for fathers involvement. Dads are wanting to do the nurturing today. Baby will tell his story during massage and Dad’s can play an important role by simply “listening”.
  • Massage can involve the whole family unit. The second sibling can also learning to massage and to bond with the new baby which can help prevent any jealousy between siblings.
  • Postnatal depression (also known as Postnatal distress disorder). We can encourage mother to stay in bed for three days with baby. Mother needs some support. She may be very depressed, and possibly father may be resentful of mother’s depression. There needs to be an understanding these to emotions. If this is not faced, it will affect the baby. If the father learns to massage baby, this produces the hormone prolactin in the father, which can help him become a more nurturing parent.
  • In many cases, massage has helped to improve the parent relationship. This allows more time together to nurture each other. There are huge adjustments to make when a baby arrives on the scene. We are not educated for marriage, let alone parenting!
  • If father is made to be part of massage from the beginning, this aids and supports the family unit.
  • Can prevent disintegration of the family unit.
  • Massage brings about a subtle awareness of baby’s cues and cries.
    Communication skills and bonding deepen through the art of massage, because of the eye to eye contact, the nurturing touch, the gentleness of the voice, and through learning to listen to each other.
    What is the result? – Fun, pleasure, relaxation, peace and tranquility.
    Spiritual connection. Through learning to tune in on different levels, baby will have a sense of being loved, nurtured and wanted and parent will want to continue to offer their love to their vulnerable little angel.

PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR MASSAGE

  • Premature baby under 1000 gms – can use holding techniques
  • Fever about 101° F or 38.3° C
  • Heart disease – greater demands on heart
  • Umbilicus unhealed
  • Systemic infections – chicken pox
  • Skin infections
  • Cancer or undiagnosed lumps
  • Fracture, bleeding, burns or other acute injury
  • Kidney disease
  • Adaptations for special needs babies
  • Jaundice
  • Recent surgery – can use holding techniques
  • Most important of all is, “WHEN BABY SAYS NO”.

IAIM – Promoting better beginnings. For further information and training please contact: Peggy Dawson P.O. Box 33997 Takapuna, Auckland. Copyright belongs to International Association of Infant Massage.

Related material

  • An intricate dance – The loving relationship between IAIM
  • May I touch you? By Emma Miller, North Carolina, U.S.A.
  • Article Health visitor run baby massage classes: investigating the effects.3
    Community Practitioner volume 76 April 2003 Number 4

For copies please contact GRSNNZ or IAIM

Collected for GRSNNZ by Jennifer Howard, National Coordinator for Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust January 2006. Used with permission.

This page may be printed for the personal use of families, as long as the copyright and source (i.e. Crying Over Spilt Milk’s URL) is also printed. It may not be copied to other websites or publications without permission from IAIM.