Becoming a mother is amazing, right? Sure, it can be challenging, stressful, confronting and downright exhausting; but it is, still, an amazing and transformative experience. But how is it for the more than one in seven women that suffer from postnatal depression and anxiety? Postnatal depression (PND) is an incredibly debilitating illness that can prevent a new mum from feeling that overwhelming sense of joy and love for their new bundle.
While getting help from a medical professional is the most important step in overcoming PND, there a number of alternative interventions that can help you find your happy again.
We love baby massage as a way to beat PND, and the research is there to back it up as an amazingly effective treatment. Here’s three meaningful ways how baby massage can make a difference.
- IMPROVED COMMUNICATION
Postnatal depression can make it a lot harder for a mum to communicate with her baby. Sure, babies don’t speak to us using words, but they have their own way of communicating their needs through babbling, body movements or facial expressions.
If you’re living with PND it can be really easy to miss these cues. Feeling depressed and anxious can mean you’re more distant from your baby, and not as ‘tuned in’ to their needs. With baby massage, however, you’re given the opportunity to stop and focus solely on your baby. That time spent touching, chatting and making eye contact helps you learn more about your baby’s non-verbal communication cues and, in turn, allows you to respond more appropriately to their needs. The benefits of improved communication flow over to your baby who now has a mama that is listening and responding to them.
- INCREASED CONFIDENCE
Research suggests that baby massage helps mums (and dads!) feel more confident in looking after their babies. We know that massage can improve communication between mum and bub – by massaging your baby you can become more tuned in to her needs, and she will then reward you with eye contact, smiling and babbling. This feeling of closeness and understanding can, in turn, allow you to feel more confident in your mothering role. This benefit is especially significant for mums suffering from PND where confidence is often at an all-time low. When you nurture that closeness with your baby, those day-to-day tasks will begin to feel a lot more manageable (maybe even enjoyable!).
- INCREASED ‘HAPPY’ HORMONES
Did you know that massage stimulates the release of serotonin (the body’s feel good hormone) in both mum and baby? Serotonin is often called the ‘happiness hormone’ and regulates mood and prevents depression. We also know that baby massage increases oxytocin levels in both mum and bub. This is the ‘cuddle’ or ‘love’ hormone which facilitates bonding and helps you fall more deeply in love with your precious bundle.
Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week will take place from 12 – 18 November. This awareness week was established by PANDA as an opportunity to raise awareness about perinatal depression, including signs to look for and where to go for help.