Postpartum Depression and Massage Therapy: Exploring the Connection

You were expecting your bundle of joy to arrive for months now, and it’s finally here – your baby has arrived!

It will be the happiest, most magical day of your life – that’s what all those books, your mom, your friends, and even the movies told you, anyway.

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But now that it’s here, nothing quite feels like you thought it would, and instead, you’re having trouble bonding with your baby, and feeling more alone than ever. You feel cheated out of the beautiful experience you were promised, but the truth is, one in five new moms are going through the same thing!

Continue reading, and you’ll learn all about postpartum depression and massage therapy!

What Are The Benefits Of Massage Therapy for Postpartum Depression?

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I know getting a massage is the last thing on your mind right now, as you’re trying to adjust to this new role you’re given, but here’s the thing:

Massage therapy promotes relaxation, feelings of calmness and well-being, reduces pains and aches, and helps you sleep better – all of which can be beyond helpful during the postpartum period.

Here are a few ways postpartum depression and massage therapy are connected:

1. Restoring Hormone Balance

You had a baby recently, it’s no wonder your hormones are out of whack - estrogen and progesterone levels are falling, prolactin and oxytocin levels are rising, which is confusing enough as it is.

But when you add postpartum depression into the mix, along with messed up dopamine and serotonin levels, the imbalance becomes too much to handle.

Massage therapy is a proven way to lower your cortisol levels and restore a proper hormone balance after childbirth, which could help you manage the symptoms of PPD, and bring about feelings of calmness and well-being.

2. Stress Relief and Relaxation

It’s no secret that pregnancy and childbirth take a toll on you, both physically and emotionally – you probably have stress hormones raging around in your body as we speak.

As I already mentioned, massage therapy can help lower the levels of stress hormones, mainly adrenaline and cortisol, improve circulation, increase endorphins in your body, and leave you feeling calm and relaxed – something every mom experiencing PPD needs.

3. Improved Sleep Quality

You went through labor and childbirth, you’re caring for your newborn around the clock, and on top of that, you’re suffering from PPD – it’s no wonder you’ve been losing sleep lately!

But here’s the thing:

Massage therapy can promote relaxation, ease fatigue, and help you sleep better – and trust me; everything will feel a lot better once you finally get a good night’s rest!

4. Easier Breastfeeding

It’s not uncommon for new moms to struggle with breastfeeding, as well, but if you’re set on nursing your baby, you’ll be glad to know that massage therapy could help in a few interesting ways.

You already know that getting a massage helps your muscles relax, and improves your circulation, which makes a huge difference by itself – but did you know that it increases prolactin (the hormone responsible for lactation) levels in your body, as well?

5. Reduced Pain and Faster Recovery

If you were an athlete, you would get a sports massage to help with your recovery, now, wouldn’t you? So, who’s to say you don’t deserve a massage as a new mom?

Pregnancy and childbirth bring about all sorts of aches and pains – and now that you’re taking care of a newborn, your arms, neck, shoulders, and back are under a lot of pressure, too.

These are all things that a skilled massage therapist (or even a back massager) could help resolve!

It may not seem like it has a lot to do with postpartum depression, but feeling like your old, pain-free self – you know, the one before the pregnancy – could do wonders for your emotional well-being.

Infant Massage Is a Less Obvious Option – But It Works

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When we talk about postpartum depression and massage therapy, the focus is almost always placed on new mothers – after all, they’re the ones suffering from PPD, right?

So, how does infant massage fit into the picture?

Well, if you think about it, infant massage is all about taking the time to focus on your newborn, using a very light touch to stroke the baby’s body, gently rub their tiny feet, all while maintaining eye contact and talking (or singing) softly.

The comfortable, calming experience of infant massage is shown to encourage and strengthen the mother-infant bond, allowing moms to feel connected to their child, which could help them work through the emotions they’re dealing with as a result of postpartum depression.

Infant massage brings about numerous benefits for your child, but moms dealing with PPD can benefit from it in the following ways, as well:

  • Makes for a beautiful bonding experience, supported, and often enhanced, by raising endorphin and oxytocin levels in the body

  • Calms and soothes the infant, and, in turn, reduces anxiety levels in depressed moms

  • Helps you better understand the baby's cues, which can relieve the feelings of anxiety new moms could have about the baby’s health and safety

  • Encourages healthy sleep patterns in the newborn, which ultimately leads to improved sleep quality of new moms, as well

Final Thoughts about Postpartum Depression and Massage Therapy

If there’s anything I’d like you to take away from this article, it’s these two things:

First off, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment here – and even though there’s an undeniable connection between postpartum depression and massage therapy, your doctor is still the best person to talk to about your options.

And more importantly, no matter how much you’re struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation, I want you to remember that you’re not alone – and with proper treatment and support, things will get better.

Blog Written By Stewart Higgins Massage Chair Expert

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