I have spent the last 8 months completing a baby massage instructor diploma that has been given accreditation by the Royal College of Midwives.
As I reflect on finishing the diploma I am so pleased I decided to do it and the modules it involves, rather than just doing a weekend course learning the baby massage routine which is an option.
By doing the diploma I have, alongside answering the module questions and reading the provided course material, been reading the books on the reading list. The books I have read are rich in research which is brilliant as it appeases the part of my brain that asks ‘where’s the evidence?’ This is because baby massage or rather the impact of giving a baby or child a massage is an area full of research carried out over a number of decades.
The skin is such a responsive organ covered with receptor cells that transmit messages all over the body when we are touched. When a baby is born they learn about their environment primarily through their mother and the sensations on their skin. A new baby doesn’t know it has hands and feet. It doesn’t have a circadian rhythm which lets it know when to go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. A baby is learning absolutely everything all the time.
The moment they are born their breathing changes. They now have to use their lungs. Their digestive system has to learn how to digest food. But one thing any baby does know is how it feels to be touched. They are constantly touched in the womb by the amniotic fluid and then as they grow and fill the space in the womb, by the wall of their mothers abdomen. During labour the baby’s body is repeatedly touched by the contractions moving the baby down to the birth canal. In those final moments before the baby is born they are in full skin contact with their mother as they enter the world. And the one thing that calms and reassures the baby once it is born is being placed on their mother. Skin to skin. Their heart beat slows down. Their breathing will become more regulated. They begin to move up to the breast to feed. They make eye contact with their mother. They know that they are safe.
This is just a tiny amount of the information I have been learning. And I find it fascinating.
Over the last few weeks I have been putting all the theory I have learnt into practice. I have taught my first 4 classes as part of my training. And it’s been so wonderful.
One of the babies in the first class cried a lot. Which is fine. Babies cry. It’s how they communicate and deal with adjusting to this completely mental world they are born into. But by the last class the baby was so much calmer. They enjoyed a full body massage and was clearly a content and blissed out baby at the end of it. I was also told that the mother had definitely noticed a positive difference in how her baby has been since starting baby massage. The mother had been doing it at home and has shown the father how to do it which is brilliant.
This is the feedback I was given from the mother:
“Baby massage with Katie was a great introduction to providing some sensory stimulus in a calm relaxing way. This was particularly useful for my baby who was very unsettled and cried a lot for the first 8-9 weeks of his life. He is really enjoying a massage after his bath now”
Baby massage is such a great thing for fathers to do. Especially when the baby is brand new, and let’s face it, the fathers role whilst so important to the mother, is slightly less with the baby. But baby massage gives the father that time every day if they wish, to bond and get to know their baby.
Being able to do this, to see happy babies and happy mothers gives me such joy.
So a thank you to Gayle Berry at Blossom & Berry who has shared so much knowledge to produce such a great course.
Doing this is definitely one of the best things I have done.