It has been almost three months since Laura popped into the world and I lived through my fourth c-section to be a new mother all over again. Unlike other mothers who get better at managing their new child with every birth experience, I always feel like a ‘reset’ button is pressed in my system as I go back to becoming the bumbling new mummy once again.
Fortunately, help is always available and this time, it came in the form of the affable and knowledgeable Genah Lim, founder and director of Beauty Mums & Babies.
Laura has been a gem of an infant. She feeds well, is sweet-natured, has no colic issues (touch wood!) and is generally placid and predictable. That is until the last feed before midnight. Laura didn’t take to sleeping in her crib naturally. She loves to be held and being a light sleeper, wakes up instantly when we place her on the mattress. Having read somewhere that massage relaxes the infant and aids in a smoother sleep pattern, I sought Genah’s advise on how to do-it-yourself at home.
Dolores: What are the benefits of baby massage?
Genah: Besides relaxing the baby and improving sleep patterns, the interaction between mother and baby by touch promotes bonding. It is also common knowledge that massage helps to improve digestive, immune, nervous, circulatory, respiratory and hormonal systems.
I read that massaging the baby is also beneficial to the mother. How so?
The physical interaction naturally translates to a heightened awareness of the bonding process, resulting in a better understanding of baby’s reaction. For breastfeeding mother, touching and holding baby helps in the secretion of prolactin which will increase the milk production.
Is there a “right time” of the day for a massage? For example, at night when he’s supposed to be asleep, or perhaps in the afternoon when baby is less cranky?
The best time is after bath when baby is refreshed and also when both baby and mother are relaxed. A sleepy baby may not benefit from the interaction and bonding.
What’s the recommended duration for massaging a baby?
15 to 20 minutes.
What type of baby massage oil would you recommend?
Natural oil products, or alternatively grape seed oil, olive oil or cold pressed vegetable oil. Mineral oil is not recommended as it is a by-product of petroleum which may clog up the pore of the skin.
What are the steps to massaging baby?
I prefer to massage baby on a smooth surface with baby looking at mum so they have eye to eye contact. Talk or sing to baby before massage and at the same time, communicate openly with the baby. Pour a little oil on the palm, rub together to make it warm. Oil is used to reduce friction. Focus attention on the area to be massaged. Start with a touch relaxation hold or resting hands. I will massage the legs first as is the most frequent touch part of the body and so is less sensitive. The strokes and massage will relax the baby and improve the circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Any other information first-time parents should be aware of?
Infant massage is a life time skill. It is a shared experience done with the baby and not to the baby. It helps us to understand baby better especially in non-verbal language and cultivates baby’s response with love and respectful listening.
The founder of Beauty Mums & Babies, Ms Genah Lim is a CIDESCO (Comité International d’Esthétique et de Cosmétologie) holder and has been in the beauty and wellness industry for more than 15 years. She is also member of the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM).
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