This is one of the most common questions I get from new massage clients. There…
You can’t draw from an empty well. How often have you heard that in regards to taking care of yourself? If you’re a mom with a newborn in tow, you know first-hand how difficult it can be to give yourself permission to rest and heal after delivery, especially when said newborn requires 24/7 care and a decent night’s sleep is scarce. Just finding time to take a shower or grab a snack can be impossible some days.
I hear you.
The postpartum period can be almost overwhelmingly challenging, and the last thing on your mind right now is yourself. As noble and selfless as that is, making time for postpartum self-care during this difficult season in life is far from selfish. In fact, it’s something you need now more than ever.
Postpartum Self-Care is a Necessity
Many cultures around the world see the postpartum period as an important time for mom and new baby, one in which mom needs time to heal from the difficulties of labor/delivery and to bond with her child. Traditions vary, but they all have key things in common: letting mom kick back while her community rallies around her to do daily household chores, prepare meals, care for older children and, in a few cases, indulge in a little massage. That’s right! In places like Malaysia and India, massage therapy is an integral part of postpartum self-care!
It’s unfortunate that most women don’t have this kind of postpartum support here in the US. It’s quite common for new moms to feel completely alone and unable to rest during what should be a much-deserved recovery period.
That’s why postpartum self-care cannot be brushed aside. In order to properly heal and recover, and to be able to draw deeply from your well in order to care for your infant, you cannot neglect you own health and wellness.
Is Massage Therapy Beneficial for Postpartum Self-Care?
Growing a child for nine months and then giving birth is physically traumatic. Even if you had a pregnancy with very few complications, your body accomplished a tremendous physical feat that takes a major toll. Just like you would need time to recover after injuring any other muscle, your body needs to heal from the strain of pregnancy, labor and delivery.
Massage therapy is a great choice for postpartum self-care for a number of reasons.
#1. It relieves tired muscles and pain. Constantly lifting and holding your new baby, the neverending demands of breastfeeding and a lack of sleep are all recipes for exhausted muscles and tension throughout the body. Massage works effectively to rid the body of this tension and provide much-needed pain relief by breaking up the fascia and sending blood and oxygen flowing to the muscles.
#2. It can help improve the dreaded “mommy pooch”. Your abs and pelvic floor take a huge beating during pregnancy, labor and delivery. As a result, they need as much support as they can get in order to become strong and fully functioning again! Your posture can play a huge role in that.
If you’re holding your baby right now, take a gander at your posture–are you slouched over? Tucking your pelvis under to support the weight of your child? Letting your stomach hang? Granted, your body has gone through a lot (respect!), but simply adjusting your posture can help realign your body after the traumas of childbirth…and massage can help with that! Massage not only relieves any muscle tension that might be preventing you from maintaining good posture and engaging your core, but it also brings awareness to the body and how you’re carrying yourself throughout the day.
#3. It provides much-needed relaxation (and just feels darn good). You deserve a break, mama. You grew a beautiful, tiny human and brought it into this world. As beautiful as that is, it’s also a huge responsibility! Caring for an infant is unbelievably demanding, and every new mom deserves a break. Just an hour on the table can do wonders for your mental and physical health.
It can help with postpartum depression. About 1 in 10 moms will experience postpartum depression.The hormone changes, the overwhelming nature of infant care, the feelings of isolation, the lack of sleep…these among many other symptoms of PPD can all benefit from the healing power of massage therapy. While it is not a cure-all, it is amazing what nurturing touch, especially at a time when your body and soul need it most, can do for your postpartum well-being.
Additional Postpartum Self-Care Ideas
Other postpartum self-care options to consider are:
Acupuncture – This alternative medicine can help with fatigue, depression and pain.
Facials – Hormone changes can affect the skin (hello, pigmentation!), so a facial may be just what the doctor ordered to rejuvenate the skin and give you a glow.
Yoga – Stretching and breathing exercises as well as meditation will help the body (and mind) recover. Check out “Mommy & Me” yoga classes near you and make it a fun activity for you and your little one to do together.
Walking – Push your baby in a stroller or use an infant wrap for added resistance. Doing this regularly can help you drop some of those extra pounds you most likely gained during pregnancy.
Spend time with friends – Who doesn’t want to hold your adorable baby? Get out of the house and spend time with people you cherish. Chances are they won’t want to give your baby back.
Journal – Even if it’s one line a day, capturing your thoughts during this crucial time can be therapeutic.
How to Find Time for Postpartum Self-Care
–Give yourself permission to make time for yourself. It all starts with recognizing your need to heal. While you are stronger than you will ever know, you shouldn’t feel guilt over needing self-care.
–Make it a priority. Your hormones are raging and out of whack. Your body hurts. You need self-care now than ever, so insist upon it to both yourself and to others.
–Ask for help. Believe me, the people in your life want to help you during this time. Don’t be afraid to call upon them to watch the baby so you can take a breath.
–Hire a postpartum doula. Doulas are becoming more and more popular with helping women prepare for and go through labor/delivery. But did you know that doulas are also available to help you during this postpartum time? Whether she stays overnight so you can sleep or she stops by for a few hours to help you with the laundry and let you take a shower, a doula can be an essential help to you during this challenging and overwhelming time.
Take Care of Yourself, Mama
Self-care is important for all of us. It keeps us healthier and happier, which in turn affects all those around us. Taking care of oneself after having a baby is especially important because caring for a newborn is not only as exhausting as it is constant, but your body is also trying to heal. Taking time for yourself by relieving stress and tension allow you to better love and nurture your little one…and most importantly, love and nurture yourself.
Interested in massage therapy as part of your postpartum care? As part of your session, we’ll go over any specific pain points and areas of the body that might need TLC. Schedule your session today!