Pregnancy and infant massage involves massage techniques modified for application to pregnant and infant clients.
Massage therapy relaxes the pregnant client, increases circulation, improves sleep, reduces pain and boosts mood—and it is growing in popularity among mothers-to-be throughout the U.S.
One research study conducted by Tiffany Field, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami, Florida, and published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in 2008 indicated that massage therapy reduced pain in pregnant women, alleviated prenatal depression in parents and improved couples’ relationships.
Another TRI study published in Infant Behavior and Development in 2009 indicated massage therapy benefitted depressed pregnant women and newborns. In that study, pregnant women diagnosed with major depression received massage therapy from their significant others twice a week for 12 weeks. Analysis showed these women not only had reduced depression at the end of the 12 weeks, but also had lower levels of depression and cortisol in the postpartum period.
Massage therapists interested in working with pregnant clients must complete specialized training in order to understand positioning, benefits and contraindications of this work.
Infant massage is offered in hospitals, homes and other settings. Research is bearing out the benefits of infant massage.
Field and her colleagues, for instance, have conducted more than 100 studies that confirm the positive effects of massage on babies, including relief for gas, colic, constipation, earaches, asthma, colds, sleeping problems, teething and several other conditions. Many programs, workshops and seminars have taken their cues from this research in developing infant-massage educational tools.
The primary role of the massage therapist in infant massage is as instructor, teaching parents how to massage their babies. A parent class is usually 60 to 90 minutes in length, held once a week for five weeks, and taught to a half-dozen parents at a time.
Massage therapists interested in working with infants and their parents must complete certification as infant massage instructors.
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