Updated: Dec 3, 2019
O is for Oxytocin
Oxytocin is one of four hormones known as the happy hormones. It gives the feeling of connection and love when released. Just 40 seconds of touch can begin this process – just imagine how much is flowing after a full massage session! The main purpose of oxytocin is to assist the birthing process as it helps with contraction of the uterus. It is at its highest-level following birth to support the bonding journey between mum and baby.
Oxytocin is produce in both parties during massage as it is stimulated by skin to skin contact; the result being that it helps in the bonding process.
P is for Proprioception
Proprioceptive awareness is knowing where your body is in relation to your environment and head. This may sound strange but for babies, people with special needs and disabilities, sufferers of strokes and dementia or neurological conditions such as MS this is either underdeveloped or the connections (synapses) in the brain have changes as a result of illness/disease meaning the sensory awareness is not strong. Underdeveloped or damaged proprioceptive awareness can cause person to have regular slips, trips and falls and difficulty with orientation (this is one reason why toddlers are often falling over).
Do you have one of those children who likes to hang upside down? Laying on the sofa with your head dangling upside down to the floor seemed to be a regular occurrence in my house! This is the child’s reaction to the natural instinct of the body in developing both proprioceptive awareness and the vestibular system.
During massage, the sensory receptors on the skin are ignited and awakened which helps with development of proprioceptive awareness which in turn supports physical development.
Did you know that in the EYFS (Early Years Foundation stage) curriculum, physical development is classed as a prime area? This means it is one of the three most important developmental areas for children and should be well developed before introducing the specific area. You can read more about this in the official government document here; and in a more user friendly and supportive document here. Please note, that the stages in this document should be used as a guide only. Each child is unique and will follow an individual path of development. However, if you have any concerns you should speak with your health visitor or GP.
Q is for qualification
When choosing the right baby massage therapist for you it is essential to consider lots of things – not just qualifications. For me, I would be confident knowing that my baby massage therapist had received high quality training and continues to have access to the latest information and science behind it. I have trained with the award winning Blossom and Berry who are accredited by the Royal College of Midwives. As a member, I have life-time, full access to high quality learning tools, information for parents and ongoing mentoring for myself. This is not a franchise but a fantastic training company.
Of course, qualifications are not everything, but this is a good place to start.
Other things to look for;
1. Is your baby massage therapist insured? I am insured with Westminster Indemnity – details can be found on my website; www.listeningtouchtherapies.co.uk
2. What experience does your massage therapist have? I have 24 years working with children and parents.
3. How accessible is the location? – I choose my locations based on the following
Is it a central location which can be accessed safely on foot?
Does it have parking nearby
Can a parent bring a buggy in?
Does it have good toileting and nappy changing facilities?
Is it clean and well maintained?
It is light and airy?
4. What size are the groups? – My groups are small and intimate. I aim for a maximum of 6 at any one time. This gives more time for 1-1, discussion and support.
5. What information can I physically take away? – Handouts of all massage strokes are provided, along with a free goodie bag at the end.
6. Are all resources included? – I provide everything you will need to carry out the workshop, and oils to take home.
7. Are they just after your money? – My fees are based on a realistic, cost effected price which enables me to provide a high-quality service in a great location.
8. What happens after the class – do you receive ongoing support? – Ongoing, free email, phone or message support is available to all my clients.
R is for Relaxing
When you become a parent, there seems to be little time to relax and when you do have the time, you can’t relax! My classes are planned to be gentle, soothing and calm for adult and baby. The right music, environment and teacher makes a lot of difference. Read one of my recent views blow.
“Amazing course. A very supportive environment created by Lisa. A brilliant teacher, calm, understanding and very supportive. My baby (and bigger children) have enjoyed the massages I have learnt. The class was supportive, and Lisa had many special touches. If you need time for you, this course is brilliant”. Rebekah Pugh & Matilda
S is for Synapses
In brief, synapses are the connections or junctions which pass electrical and chemical signals between neurons. The neurons then transmit messages to the relevant cells in the body. The stronger these synapses are, the better they perform and more effective they will be.
How does this relate to massage? The power of touch literally helps to stimulate the growth and strength of synapses. It moves essential fatty acids through the body with increased circulation which helps to build and strengthen the myelin sheath which is the coating of nerves and essential for good health and wellbeing.
T is for teething
Not only does physical touch release natural endorphins (pain killers) but there are specific baby massage strokes which can support babies during the teething stage. Teething can seem to go on forever! It can also produce lots of symptoms such as flushed cheeks, dribbling, gnawing at everything in sight and even nappy rash due to increased acid in the urine and loose stools. The later of these two are not supported by medical industry but after having three children myself and caring for hundreds over the years I can tell you I truly believe there is a link. However, if you are concerned you should speak with your health visitor or GP for advice.
Teething pain can cause sleeplessness, grumpiness and cause a loss of appetite. Just imagine how you feel with one tooth hurting – and babies can have several coming through at the same time.
I cover strokes for teething on my baby massage courses and plan on running specific workshops to cover this in the future.
U is for Underdeveloped digestive system
At birth, most babies still have an underdeveloped digestive system. Unfortunately, over the years we have been led to believe that children should be fed at specific time, take a certain amount at each feed and stick to it. I am a firm believer that demand feeding – no matter how hard and draining is best for baby. Their body will instantly know when they are hungry, when they are full and when they have wind. It is up to us as parents to react to that. All medical experts will tell you that breast is best for baby and whilst I don’t disagree to an extent it is also essential that we understand it is not always possible. I tried to breast feed with my youngest and lasted 3 weeks! He wouldn’t latch on which resulted in me spending hours expressing then hours feeding with not much time in-between. I was exhausted and felt like a failure. Please don't judge other parents decisions on how and when to feed their child. It is essential that their own mental health and wellbeing is also considered.
Baby massage can support the digestive system in helping to develop proprioceptive awareness and the signals between brain and tummy. It can also help to expel trapped wind and alleviate constipation.