Post-natal depression (PND) affects many Mums and Dads. New parents feel like they should be instantly in love with their newborn and be relishing every second. But the reality is that this just isn’t the case for many. When suffering with PND and anxiety, it makes bonding all the harder. In this blog, I want to share how baby massage can help alleviate these feelings of anxiety and help the bonding process.
Suffering with PND is challenging for parents as it often has a negative effect on communication with their baby, making bonding difficult. Creating a strong attachment is important for baby’s development. Research shows that when treating PND, it is important to focus on parent-infant interaction and not just the depression.
Baby massage can help PND on several levels. Research has been carried out to assess the impact of baby massage on parents suffering with PND. It shows that after attending baby massage classes, depression and anxiety was reduced, there were fewer sleep problems in the infants, and the quality of interactions between mother and child was improved1.
Here are some of the reasons why.
Baby massage is the perfect way to encourage interaction and communication to develop parent-baby bonding. Baby massage provides an opportunity for eye-to-eye contact, for baby to feel your touch, hear your voice, smell your scent and gives you time to get to know and understand them. This will allow you to respond to their needs more quickly, making baby feel secure and loved, and parents more confident in their abilities.
In addition, the loving gaze between a parent and baby, and the simple connection through touch releases the hormones Oxytocin and Serotonin. Both Oxytocin (known as the love hormone) and Serotonin help you to feel good, be more relaxed and can act as an antidote to depressive feelings. Oxytocin also plays a crucial role in bonding and social interaction helping us to feel more connected to each other. It is why skin to skin contact is encouraged in the early days of a newborn’s life and why we cuddle or instinctively touch to reassure others.
Baby massage also helps babies with pain relief from common ailments such as colic, teething, gas and constipation. When baby suffers from such ailments, they tend to sleep less and cry and fuss more, all adding to feelings of anxiety. Regular baby massage can make baby more content, sleep more and cry less, which is beneficial for everyone.
Going to baby massage classes is a great way to meet other parents to share your experiences. This helps to build a support network and can greatly ease the loneliness and isolation that many parents encounter.
However, from our experience, many parents suffering from anxiety and PND find it too daunting to go to classes. And due to their anxiety, when they do, baby often becomes unsettled in class, deepening the parent’s anxiety. That’s why we have developed a full online course that replicates everything you would learn from going to classes. Our course also means that you can learn at a convenient time with the ability to stop and start when you like. This is also great if you have other children at home making it difficult to get out to classes. Hopefully, once you have built up your confidence, you may also find that you would like to attend classes to enjoy the social benefits that this can bring.
Please do remember that baby massage is just one strategy that can help parents through PND. If you are suffering, speak to your health visitor about any concerns that you may have, and most importantly, remember that you’re not alone!
If you want to start learning baby massage now, use coupon code ‘PANDAS’ for 15% off all our products. We will also donate £1 per sale to the PANDAS Foundation for each sale that comes through using this code.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Wishing you and your family all the best.
PS you can learn more about the benefits of baby massage here
1. Onozawa, K., Glover, V., Adams, D., Modi, N. & Kumar, R. (2001). Infant massage improves mother-infant interaction for mothers with postnatal depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 63, 201-207.
Photo by Mehrpouya H on Unsplash