Having a baby puts your body through a tremendous amount of physical and emotional stress, to say the least. Many women take such good care of their bodies while they’re pregnant, and then once the baby arrives, they’re all but forgotten with the demands of motherhood. Many overlook the recovery time necessary to fully rehabilitate their body afterwards, but pregnancy and the delivery process are just like any other drastic change to the body; there is a necessary recovery time and certain protocols that can help support you and aid in your recovery efforts. Massage received postpartum (after the baby arrives) can help your body and mind.
When looking to get a postpartum massage, you’ll want to be completely honest about any issues you may be experiencing to allow your massage therapist to make the necessary adjustments to keep your health their number one priority. Because your safety is the top priority, most OBGYN’s will ask you to wait 6 weeks after delivery before receiving a massage due to possible blood clot factors. If you’ve had a vaginal birth, the good news is you’re not limited when it comes to your position on the massage table. As long as it’s comfortable for you, you can finally lay on your stomach (YAY!!), something a lot of women miss during those last two trimesters. Postpartum massage can help relieve the pain and soreness you may be feeling in your hips, abdomen, back, and legs from delivery. It can also ease the aches and pains in your neck from carrying your new little one and breastfeeding. Depending on how relatively easy or rough the delivery was, women can have widespread muscular pain throughout their entire body for quite a while after delivery, something massage can readily help. Massage and soft tissue work in the months after delivery will also help you to find your new center of gravity again, as it takes the body a while to readjust to movement without carrying a baby in utero.
Cesarean Sections are a different story: Delivering a baby via c-section changes a lot when it comes to your postpartum massage appointment. First, we may require a written note from your doctor releasing you from restrictions and giving us the go-ahead for the massage. Depending on numerous factors, you may be able to get a massage as early as 3 weeks after your c-section, or you may have to wait as long as 8 weeks. This is up to your doctor and how your body is responding after delivery and how your incision is healing. As long as your doctor has given you clearance, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you are allowed to come in before the 8-week mark, you will be limited as to the position you’re able to be in on the table for those first several sessions. We’ll keep you lying on your back and sides throughout the session to avoid any pressure or discomfort from laying on your stomach. Once you’re fully healed, you can finally roll over and enjoy that time lying on your belly. We can even begin some specific work along the incision site to help prevent scar tissue buildup – this is called our Cesarean Rehabiliation (C-Section Scar Massage). This work helps keep the scar flexible to decrease the chance of adhesion with the abdominal fascia, which can cause abdominal pain and organ dysfunction. It also helps improve the look and feel of the scar – it makes the scar less puckered, and helps increase sensation if numbness is present after delivery.
Regardless of how you deliver, there are numerous benefits to massage postpartum. It can help balance out fluid levels and the subsequent high blood pressure that many women experience through pregnancy and shortly after. Shoulder, neck, chest, and upper back pain due to nursing, rocking, or otherwise changes in posture from baby care are common, and therapeutic and relaxation techniques can help give you some much-needed relief. We may also perform some abdominal massage as you’re comfortable with it, in order to help promote a decrease in any residual inflammation, stimulate your bowel activity to return to normal, and keep a check on possible diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles.
And lastly, massage can help reduce stress levels, decrease feelings of anxiety and depression, improve mood, and help you to sleep more restfully in those few hours the baby allows. Considering how common and debilitating postpartum depression can be, this positive emotional and mental impact may be one of the most promising benefits.
Having a baby is one of the most incredibly empowering and beautiful things on earth, but it’s also one of the most difficult and exhausting. Let us help take some of that off your shoulder sand prioritize your health and well-being by caring for you in this special way.
***For traditional postpartum massage (vaginal birth), please schedule Therapeutic Massage with Danielle (60 or 90 mins). For Cesarean Section birth and scar work, please schedule Certified Neuromuscular Therapy with Rachel (30 mins).***