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  • Writer's pictureclairemariemiller1

Postpartum Massage



Postpartum massage is one of the most rewarding and challenging sessions to give. The woman’s body is changing rapidly over the days and weeks after the birth. Women need this and they are not getting it. Why? 


Massage is my medium, so that is what I will share here, with suggestions for outside referrals for additional support. A referral list is most helpful to share with clients - lactation specialists, mental health therapists, postpartum yoga classes, mother’s-morning-out groups and more. Be sure to request that they refer women to you as well. This is community building. 


When giving her the first postpartum massage, it is best to come to her home. Allow extra time for baby interruptions. When I am setting up the table, I always ask how the birth was. Just listening is one of the gifts we can offer as massage therapists. Listening with no judgment can have a positive effect on the mother’s perception of herself.


Be aware of any leg swelling due to the possibility of postpartum eclampsia, of blood clots in the leg. Always assess the swelling before beginning. Seek medical attention as needed. Fever is another contraindication, it may be an infection within the uterine cavity or mastitis (breast infection).


Be flexible in positioning. I have given postpartum massage in the side-lying position with baby at the breast. For one massage, I had the baby lay on the mother’s chest and I did the entire massage face up. I used her body weight and slid my hands under her to work the posterior body.  When I can, I prefer to start face down with breast support and focusing on the upper back and neck. This will give relief from holding and feeding baby. It is amazing how heavy that little one can be. After neck and shoulder massage, I then move to lower back. If she had an epidural, I am mindful of possible sensitivity at the site of the injection. I suggest using some castor oil on the site to reduce the tight scar tissue. 


The belly massage, also performed with castor oil, allows her to get back in touch with her digestive system. Breast tenderness and breastfeeding can be one of the huge hurdles to overcome for a new mother. If your client allows, and your massage state laws allow, a gentle breast massage can bring relief and increase milk production. In my workshops, each time when I have demonstrated breast massage on a nursing mother, the mother has shared that her milk came in twice as much and let down twice as fast. My clients have remarked that the whole massage helped her to feel whole again. Women need this and they are not getting it. Why? 


That is the dilemma I hope we can confront as a community. In other cultures, such as in India, mother and baby are massaged daily post-birth. Currently, our busy society does not create spaces where both mother and child could receive this touch therapy. If we had community and support for all the various needs of the mother, would postpartum depression decrease? We crave our tribe that we have lost. My hope is we can create it again, for us all. 





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