Let me be clear right from the start. Mother’s massage is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Please take a moment to let that sink in. The birth and postpartum is not only about the baby, it is just as much about you. Of course, you want to do whatever it takes to care for your little angel. I very much want that for you too (that’s why I’m here ). Let’s step back for a moment and look at the bigger picture.
Have you considered how your own recovery and health will effect your ability to mother? You see, if you just give, give, give, with no consideration for your own well-being, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences. Not receiving the support you need will surely have consequences on your family as a whole. Why am I saying this? Because I cannot stress this point enough. It’s not that you should have mother’s massage or even that you deserve it (which you definitely do). Simply put, it’s because your body needs it. Without a healthy mother, the whole family suffers.
Why is Mother’s Massage SO Important?
Birth and postpartum are a unique time in a woman’s life. It is a crossroads where the veil between life and death, health and sickness becomes very thin. All possibilities of vitality, fatigue, happiness and sadness are held in a delicate balance during this window of time. Secretly held within this crossroads, is an incredible opportunity to rebuild your vitality from square one. Just as your heart will be reborn in the love of your new child, your body will be rebirthed into your new mother’s body. One of the most important ways to rejuvenate your body’s tissues, is with daily warm oil massage.
Think of it like this: Your pregnant and pre-pregnancy body is like a plump juicy grape (lol!). After birth, your postpartum body becomes like a shriveled, dried up raisin. Yes, adding water to rehydrate the raisin is a good start, but once a raisin, it will never be a plump juicy grape again, right? In order for your (grape) body to not turn into this postpartum raisin after birth, you need to maintain it with a lot of oils. That is where daily postpartum oil massage comes in
Listed below are some of the many benefits of mother’s oil massage:
- supports hormonal function and balance
- supports healthy lactation
- balances cortisol – the stress hormone
- reduces probability of postpartum mood disorders
- reduces adrenal fatigue
- nourishes the nervous system
- promotes circulation and relieves stagnation
- reduces swelling
- replacement for exercise during postpartum
- promotes deep sleep
- supports digestion
- gently releases impurities
- nourishes and lubricates tissues, joints and muscles
- eases aches and pains
- stimulates healthy function of the immune system
- increases vitality
- anti-aging (especially effective during postpartum)
- nourishes emotions and connection to the inner-self
- provides structured self-care and healing time
The warmth, oiliness, repetitive, nurturing and gentle nature of this practice are what make it so healing for postpartum mothers. Stress hormones are naturally brought back into balance, breast tissues are soothed, tummies regain their shape, digestion is improved and deep rest is achieved.
Mother’s Massage Options
There are a few options to achieving the goal of receiving daily mother’s massage.
- Hiring a professional – This is the best option of you can afford it. An Ayurdoula, or Ayurvedic massage practitioner would be ideal. Any massage therapist that specializes in postpartum massage is great as well. Ask them to use heated unrefined sesame oil (very important!), gentle pressure and a hot water bottle for your tummy and lower back. Also, if you can’t afford all 6 weeks, I recommend receiving as many massages in a row as possible. It is more beneficial to receive 6 massages in a row, than one massage a week for 6 weeks.
- Massage from your family and friends – This is a viable option as well. If your partner or other loved ones would like to offer you a simple oil massage, go for it! Make sure the use warm unrefined sesame oil, and place an old sheet on the bed to avoid getting oil on your bedding.
- Self Massage – Sometimes if you want to get something done, you just have to do it yourself! I know it is difficult to find more than 2 minutes for yourself after baby arrives, but I recommend getting creative to make sure you get this done everyday. The most important part of the massage is the oil. If you can at least slather your body in warm sesame oil everyday, you will achieve the majority of the benefits listed above.
Mother’s Massage Sequence
These instructions are a simplified version of the Ayurvedic postpartum massage I practice. These are just suggestions, so follow them at your own discretion and the discretion of your health care provider. This sequence can be applied for self-massage or followed by your partner or other support person.
- Make sure the room is warm enough to be comfortable without clothes. Warmer is always better.
- Heat your unrefined sesame oil either in a baby bottle warmer, or by placing your bottle of oil in a mug of hot water.
- If you plan on lying down, place an old sheet on top of your bed.
- Prepare a hot bath for after your massage, if at all possible.
*Notes before you begin: I recommended using at least 4 oz of sesame oil for each massage. Refrain from using coconut oil, it is far too cooling in most cases. I also recommend practicing this regularly before you go into labor. Having this sequence down will only make it easier once the baby has arrived.
- Apply a Tablespoon of oil to the head and massage all over the scalp with your palms and fingers. The more surface area of your hand you use-the better.
- Apply oil to the face using a sweeping motion across the forehead, circle around your cheeks and temples, palm up and down the nose and draw fingers from the center of the chin away toward the ears.
- Oil the outside and inside of the ear. Massage, squeeze, and pull on the earlobes.
Neck & Shoulders
Breasts & Heart
- Apply oil in a circular motion around breasts and over the heart.
- Circle around breasts with your full hand in a clockwise motion 10x and then reverse.
- Press on your breastplate lightly with your middle finger for a few seconds and feel your connection to your heart.
- Apply oil to your tummy in a clockwise circular motion.
- Massage tummy in a sweeping circular motion at least 10x. *Massaging in the direction of your colon supports healthy elimination.
Arms & Hands
- Apply oil to arms and hands.
- Massage in a circular motion around the shoulder joint 3x.
- Grab your upper arm between your thumb and forefingers and squeeze up and down the arm 5x.
- Circle around the elbow joint 3x.
- Squeeze up and down the forearm 5x.
- Massage all the joints in the fingers in a circular motion.
- Squeeze and pull each finger and in between the webbing.
Hips & Bum
- Apply oil to the hips and bum
- Place both palms on lower back with fingers pointing towards the floor and rub up and down on the lower back 10x
- Massage in a circular motion all around hips. Feel free to give this area extra attention and oil.
Legs & Feet
- Apply oil to the legs and feet. If you are standing, only do the tops of your feet, so you don’t slip! I recommend oiling the bottoms as soon as you lay down.
- Massage up and down the thighs using both hands in a sweeping motion 5x.
- Circle around the front and back of the kneecap 3x.
- Massage up and down the lower leg using both hands in a sweeping motion 5x.
- Circle around the ankle 3x.
- Massage the top of the foot, using a back and forth sweeping motion 10x
- Sit down and circle the bottom of your foot 15x, using the friction to drive the oil deeper into the tissues.
- Circle all the joints in the toes and squeeze and pull the toes, as well as the webbing in between.
That’s it! Make sure to wipe the oil off the bottom of your feet before walking around the house. Be careful not to slip!
I highly recommend taking a hot bath after your massage and not before. Hot water dilates the pores of your skin and the channels of your body, allowing the healing properties of the oil to penetrate your tissues more deeply. As we all know, baths are also very soothing and relaxing, which you need more than ever. Adding a little lavender essential oil and a candle is a nice touch. Sitz bath herbs filtered in a cloth bag, would also be quite beneficial. You can choose to have bath time as a personal time to reflect and meditate, or have bath bonding time with your baby (hopefully after she/he had baby massage!).
You now have all the tools necessary to manifest daily oil massage as a part of your postpartum care routine. Whether it comes from a massage therapist, Ayurdoula, partner, friend or yourself, prioritizing your own well-being will not only benefit you, but your family as well.