Saturday, November 14, 2015

A newborn's experience being massaged

In my classes when caregivers are learning to massage the baby I will remind them the newborn has been tucked and rolled inside the mom's tummy their whole existence. Thus having the limbs free and flying in the air is a new sensation. So is having the limbs stretched out while being massaged.
Additionally as they grow and exhibit new bahaviors over the next few days and weeks the developing muscles may feel tired as they repetitively kick, throw hands and arms out and lift the head. The head weight accounts for most of the newborns weight the first week. Lifting the head is alot of weight on the little neck. 

After the last massage instruction with parents of a 3 day old baby where the father massaged the baby to give mom a break, the newborn lifted his head up and stared directly at the mom. The long eye contact was engaging. The mother responded by holding the gaze with much love. It was an intense exchange. The father was enamored and pleased with the results of massaging the baby.
We discussed imagining what it must be like for the baby to no longer be in the only world it knew prior to birth and how it must feel to have so many new experiences all the time at first. Just remembering to massage the areas you imagine you would need massaged after running all day like a toddler, goes a long way to building a relationship through empathy, sensitivity and engagement.
And this baby got the massage while the parents relationship benefited too. Dad enjoyed massaging the baby providing comfort while mom enjoyed watching dad massage the baby! It was the ultimate benefit to each in the family unit.