In India, traditionally, massages are given to all new mothers for a full 40 days post childbirth as a de facto means of recovery.
The massage is usually given by a masseuse specially trained for this role. Usually the masseuse also massages and bathes the baby as well and charges a package rate for 40 days or a daily charge as required.
Getting regular full body massages post childbirth is an excellent way for new mothers to be pampered after the rigours of pregnancy and delivery. The massages help soothe away aches and pains, relax tense and tired muscles and induce a sense of both physical and emotional comfort.
The healing effect of massages when combined with herbs is tremendous.
The massage is usually done with mustard oil in which some garlic or carom seeds are warmed up to increase its heating effect. Mustard oil helps in healing, loosening up the muscles and joints and strengthening the body in general. It also helps hydrate the skin and lighten stretch marks. The oil has a strong smell and if you are averse to the smell you could go in for a sweeter smelling almond oil massage or olive oil massage with the same benefits. You will have to keep an old bed sheet especially for the massage as oil can stain the bed clothes.
Make sure the baby is well-fed before your massage.
Before getting a massage started make sure your baby is fed, changed and comfortable and that there is someone to look after him for the one hour. That will ensure that you enjoy your 'me' time without having to worry about the baby.
The massage usually starts from the feet and moves up the legs, abdomen, back and chest to the head. The massage soothes away all the sore areas especially in the back, buttocks and legs. It increases the blood flow into these areas and thus helps in a quicker recovery. It also stimulates the lymphatic system and increases immunity. Furthermore, it stimulates the release of the feel good hormones, the endorphins, so that any baby blues simply vanish and postnatal depression is avoided. Massage is thus rightly called the best stress buster and mood elevator!
Massage also increases the levels of oxytocin in the body.
This hormone stimulates the production of milk. Massaging the breasts also increase the milk production. It opens up clogged ducts and softens hard areas and lumps in the breast. However, breast massage should be done gently and without the use of any oil especially around the nipple area so that the baby can feed safely.
If you have had a Caesarian section you might need to defer the massages for a week or two.
You will also need the masseuse to stay clear of the incision area and massage the abdomen area very gently. Also since you will not be able to lie down on your tummy for a back massage you can get one while sitting upright. It is okay to get your arms, legs and head massaged.
After 5 to 6 weeks you can start getting a special scar massage done to heal the scar tissues better. However, this must be done only by a a masseuse who is specialised in this.