Connect with your Child

Prenatal & Pediatric Massage

Touch is as important as eating and sleeping.

 

Harry Frederick Harlow was an American Psychologist best known for his maternal-separation, dependence he needs, and social isolation experiments on rhesus monkeys, which manifested importance of caregiving and companionship in social and cognitive development. He conducted most of his research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he worked with humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow. Harlow’s experiments were controversial; they included cultivating infant monkeys in isolation chambers for up to 24 months, from which they merged intensely disturbed. Some researchers cite the experiments as a factor in the rise of the animal liberation movement in the United States (wiki).

 

They concluded that Massage has the same nurturing effects as an animal licking its young.

 

Our offspring require [physical contact] in order to thrive, as we are what is referred to as a “carrying species.” Touch aids to maintain good health and well-being, and is necessary for proper physiological and organic development in all animals.

Babies that are touched (which includes caressed, massaged, rocked, crooned, held, carried, breastfed) for their wellbeing have been shown to become less aggressive, less violent, and more cooperative and compassionate as they grow into adulthood.

 

Touch & kindness promotes intelligent, caring, sensible individuals.

 

Kind skin contact during pregnancy helps to promote an easier labor and ability to respond to the baby.

 

The mother may develop

  • A greater quantity and quality of milk production

  • A greater interest in their child

 

While the baby may be with

  • A greater birth weight

  • Reduced excitability

 

Massage therapy is adaptable and suitable for any parenting style, and can

  • Empower the parent(s),

  • Help the child feel more settles in the world,

  • Promote bonding/connection between the parent and child; sense of love, security, listening, and respect,

  • Stimulate the mind, body, and heart; happiness,

  • Promote trust, courage, and dependability,

  • Promote physical, emotional and spiritual harmony; a closeness they will carry for life.

Children require loving touch.

It is a form of communication, the first form of language an infant learns.

Touch affects the nervous system.

  • Stimulates the myelination of neurons (the process of myelination is not complete at birth) which promotes brain health and development,

  • Soothes/calms baby,

  • Calms muscle tension,

  • Relieves stress by lowering stress hormone levels — contributing to the ability to handle stress as an adult and a higher immune function, enhancing the body’s response to disease,

  • Contributes to emotional development,

  • Stimulates the nerves in the brain that facilitate food, aiding in faster weight gain,

  • Stimulates digestion and reduces colic,

  • AIDS the respiratory and circulatory systems.

Research

.      University of Miami’s Medical Center, Dr. Tiffany Field

Massage Therapy — 20 Premature Infants

                                          15 Minutes

                                          3x Daily

These Infants averaged 47% greater weight gain, higher activity, and a greater rate of maturation of neurological development than those not given massage.

.      Dallas Psych., Dr. Ruth Rice

Massage Therapy — 15 Premature Infants

Without Massage — 15 Premature Infants

                                           Both groups received usual care, one with and the other without massage and/or rocking.

By 4 months of age, those whom received massage were ahead in neurological development and weight gain than those not given massage.

Many hospitals have taught nursery staff massage and holding techniques for premature and sickly babies, and offer instructions to parents to help promote bonding and ease baby’s discomfort.

The effects of massage last well into adulthood.

Oils and Lotions

You may have heard that parabens and other chemicals in skin care products are harmful when ingested, though they cannot penetrate the skin when applied topically. However, much of what we place on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream.

In 2005, the Environmental Working Group published a compilation of studies that found toxic chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of newborns within the U.S. in the fall of 2004. They screened for more than 400 chemicals and detected 287 of the toxins. Of these, 217 were neurotoxins, and 208 are known to damage growth development or cause birth defects. To name a few, the substances found were mercury, polyaromatics, hydrocarbons, organochlorine pesticides like DDT and chlordane, and several others.

Since we know without a doubt that some chemicals can and do enter our bloodstream through topical application, you’re better off doing your best to avoid all known harmful chemicals on the chance that they enter your bloodstream (The Huffington Post).

 

It is good to stick with simple and holistic lubricants such as fractionated coconut oil, organic olive oil, raw shea butter or almond oil. Be aware of personal allergies and use something that is safe to eat.

Alertness in Your Child

Some infants are easily overwhelmed by outside stimuli (e.g. music, loud sounds, crowds, bright lights, being held by multiple people). These are a few clues to help you recognize when your baby is giving you signs that she or he needs a time-out  from the stimuli. This does not mean every time your baby gets the hiccups you should turn down the lights or that you need to get out the stethoscope so you can tell if your many is ready to play. These are just a few guidelines to help you determine when your baby may be hyper stimulated. If you can more easily read your baby’s cues, it may help keep the new-parented frustration to a minimum.

 

They may respond “Yes” by

  • Quiet alert state

  • Focused gaze

  • Dilated pupils

  • Regular respiration or heart rate

  • Rhythmic suckling

  • Hand to mouth movements

  • Reaching or grasping

 

They may respond “No” by

  • Changes in respiration or heart rate

  • Presenting guarding hands, arching of the back, or overall stiffening

  • Turning their head away, kicking, fussing, flailing, crying

  • Sudden hiccups, yawning, sneezing, vomiting

  • Flushed or mottled skin

  • Averting gaze, or moving their eyes frantically

 

 

Relax, breathe, be kind, and use a soft voice. Smile and greet your baby. If you’re truly calmed, your baby may imitate. Tell them “ It’s massage time” and ask your baby’s permission to touch them. It’s best to remove your any rings or bracelets you may be wearing. Remove your baby’s clothing, keeping their privates covered. Show them your palms and ask “May I massage you now?” This sets the tone even if they’re unable to understand yet. They will learn.

 

Try warming them or the space by covering them with a blanket or warm hands, bringing them closer to you, or use deep relaxation — Then ask again~ Small changes in comfort are all necessary at times. If “no” is still a clear response, try again another time. It isn’t helpful to treat them if they aren’t willing or comfortable.

 

If baby is only a little fussy, continue the massage – as they may calm as the treatment progresses and begin to enjoy it. The more often they are massaged, the more comfortable they will become with it in the future.

 

 

Preparations are important! Allowing the child to know what will happen and to respond — They remember this communication. Respect them and their wishes. Establish trust. Asking permission teaches them about boundaries and how to treat others. It all starts at the beginning!

 

Abbreviated Preparations

  1. Relax and breathe deeply, removing jewelry and baby’s clothing. Their privates remain covered.

  2. Apply oil or lotion to palms and rub them together to warm them.

  3. Show hands to your child and request permission to begin massage.

 

An excerpt from

Being With Babies from Dr. Wendy Anne McCarty’s 2 booklet set

 

Babies are showing us specific ways we can help them. Babies can easily get easily overwhelmed or overstimulated. These are specific ways to help babies be able to integrate their experience, to feel safe, and to build trust.

  1. Slow the pace down. So down inside yourself. Fast actions, interactions, and transitions from one thing to another to easily overwhelmed the baby. 

  2. Adapt environment: temperature, lights, sounds, to their cues.

  3. Approach the baby with respect: for their boundaries, and be sensitive to their cues.

  4. Ask permissionwhen you sincerely are giving them a choice such as “would you like me to hold you?“ Then wait for a cue from them.

  5. Tell the baby ahead of time what you will be doing what is going to happen, such as:

    • When you were going to break contact with them and move your attention.

    • When you were going to do something with or for them, EE. G., “I’m going to pick you up to change your diaper now.”

    • When you were about to initiate a transition. Especially important time to tell them about change ahead of time. For example, daddy has been playing with baby and had to leave for work. He might say, “This has been so much fun playing together… and in a few minutes, I’m going to leave for work. I’ll be back later and we will play more then.”

  1. Baby’s reaction to the changes and knowledge them. Often are transition can be too quick for them to integrate. To wake knowledge that and pause helps the baby.

  2. Acknowledge and reflect what the baby is expressing. This is so helpful with the baby and a great way to interact with them. For example, “Oh, you’re reaching out with your hand, I see.“

  3. Tell the baby what you were feeling. If you’re around the baby and you’re upset about something or are in conflict with someone, the baby will naturally pick up on it. It helps them if you identify what’s going on. They often feel it is something they did and it can be helpful to say something like, “I’m upset about something from work today. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, but you may feel my upset.“

 

If you are interested in the entire booklet set or other publications that have wonderful information for supporting how you are in relationship with babies by Dr. Wendy Anne McCarty, you can order from her website at www.wondersbeginnings.com

WORKS CITED

 

McClure, Vimala. Infant Massage: A handbook for loving parents. 3rded USA & Canada: Bantam, 2000. Print.

 

Dr. Harry Fredrick Harlow, Psychologist. Wikipedia.Wikipedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 July 2015.

 

Burnes, Deborah. “Putting it on your skin does let it in: What’s in skin care and how it affects your health.”

                  The Huffington Post.Thehuffingtonpost.com, 21 June 2012. Web. 08 July 2015.