When I think of spring, thoughts of all things new and fresh come to mind. Over the past few months at the office, we have had an abundance of new life. With new life also comes the adjustment period for the newest addition and their family members.
This time can be wonderful and difficult, with sleepless nights, sibling rivalry and generally adjusting to a new family dimension.
As a massage therapist, my thoughts go to how can we make this period easier for everyone? The first thought that pops in my head is, massage everyone! Massage has been healing people for thousands of years and we generally know the benefits massage has for adults, but infant massage is rarely talked about and the benefits are even lesser known.
Massage for infants has numerous benefits for parents and babies. Some of these include; Increased sleep periods, decreased fussy periods, helps baby learn how to relax, enhances baby’s immune system and improves movement of the gastrointestinal system. This last point is true for every baby. Some babies have an easy time in the first few weeks of life, adjusting to digesting food, while others do not. This can lead to gassy tummies, colic and an unhappy baby in general, which causes life for those caring for this little one, not so pleasant.
As newborns our gastrointestinal system (GI tract) is sterile and must be colonized with colostrum, breastmilk or formula. The infant’s GI tract has never had to process food before and is sensitive to this new substance. As a newborn, the business of eating can also be a tricky skill to learn. When you think about it, having something in your mouth, breathing out of your nose and sucking and swallowing, there is a lot going on here! This is a new skill for a newborn and takes time to master. While babies are mastering this new skill, they are swallowing a lot of air as well. Now, the GI tract not only has this new substance to process, it also has to process air bubbles. It’s no wonder newborns and are so gassy.
This is where Infant Massage can be very helpful. Massage is a preventative measure that can be done before your baby is gassy. The idea is to keep everything moving through the GI tract, so it doesn’t get stuck. In essence, you are helping your little one to toot easier and more often, until their body can do it more efficiently. I have tried to massage a baby’s belly that is hard and distended with gas and they usually scream louder. We’ve all experienced gassy tummies and would you want someone pushing on your belly? Massage is preventative as well as reparative, do it before your baby is gassy.
Once your baby’s body has had time to adjust to digesting milk and matured a little, they will not be as gassy. That is, at least, until you start solids! Then it’s more gassy tummies accompanied with constipation. Oh the fun of parenting!
I look forward to seeing you and your little one soon!
Valerie DeMasi, LMT CIMI