Body, Mind And Spiritual Wellness

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Strengthen the bond with baby massage

Strengthen the bond with baby massage

We nourish and connect with our little ones in so many ways – through healthy food, warm clothes, cuddles and good sleep. Whether it’s holding them, bathing them, getting them off the sleep or puttinStrengthen the bond with baby massageg on their clothes, it’s touch that makes such a powerful connection between you and your baby.

The great thing about baby massage is it makes that touch connection so deliberate and sets aside special time for parents and babies to bond. It may also have particular benefits for our little ones – as well as helping to soothe and relax them, it can assist with better sleep, and allows both babies and parents to produce more of the ‘feel good’ hormone oxytocin.

If you haven’t tried baby massage before or want some extra inspiration, here are some tips to consider and see what works for you:

Choose the best time

Baby massage is best done when there is enough time in the family schedule for a good outcome – try not to squeeze it in between big things or before you need to go out. After bathing your baby can be a good time because they’ll be relaxed and by this time they’ve generally been fed and have a new nappy (if you want them to be wearing one during the massage). It’s also a time when you want to help relax them for bedtime.

Create the environment

For a calm atmosphere it can help if the room is quiet or there is soft music playing, and the lighting isn’t too bright. It’s also ideal if the air is warm but not too hot. You can place baby on a towel or comfortable mat in front of you, on the floor or next to you on the couch or bed.

Choose the ideal oil

Because a child’s skin is thinner and more delicate than an adult’s, it’s important that any product that goes on their skin is gentle and nourishing. It’s great to pick one that’s moisturizing as well as soothing – ecostore’s baby oil has black currant and almond oils for this, and it’s free of mineral oil, a petrochemical-based ingredient. With nourishing ingredients, mums can also use this oil on their own skin.

Starting off and techniques

Strengthen the bond with baby massageRub the oil between your hands to warm them up first, then massage a small area of baby’s skin to make sure they’re in the right mood for the massage and that the oil will work well. Starting with their feet is often recommended as this area is less sensitive than others, massaging from heel to toe across the sole, giving each toe gentle squeezes, stroking the top of the foot, then stroking from ankle to thigh and back down. Soft twisting, or ‘milking’/pulling type techniques can be tried on their arms and legs. For the mid section, the ‘I Love You’ method is a common suggestion. The ‘I’ is a long stroke down baby’s side, the L is reversed into a stroke from their right side across to their left, then the U moves from their lower right side, up past the belly button, then down to the lower left side. For the shoulders and arms, try gentle strokes from the shoulder inward to the chest, then from each shoulder to the centre of the neck and out to the arm on each side. A back massage may be done from side to side along with up and down, taking care to avoid the spine. For the face and head, you can stroke your thumb across from the middle of the forehead out to each ear, then ‘draw’ gentle circles on their head with your fingertips, but without strong pressure on the fontanel or softer areas.

General tips

Observe your baby during the massage – if they’re not enjoying it or if they fall asleep, you can finish earlier.

There is no set rule about when to start, but it can be done as early after bringing them home as you feel comfortable.

How often you massage them depends on your schedule and how they respond to each massage.

You don’t need to do a long massage or have a set routine each time – try focusing on the areas baby is enjoying, or just some quick strokes in between cuddles.

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Massage & Cancer Patients

For many years the medical profession held the view that massage therapy would have negative effects on cancer patients. However, after extensive research medical experts are now taking the opposite stand point.

Previous concerns surrounding massage as a positive therapy for cancer patients came from the fear that malignant tumours could spread to other parts of the body due to the superior circulation that massage provides. This idea has since been made redundant as scientific research does not support this position, instead finding that those with breast cancer, mesothelioma, as well as other types of cancers may actually benefit in many ways when including massage therapy in their treatment plan.

Needless to say, receiving treatment for any type of cancer is extremely stressful and painful. I have had first hand experience treating cancer patients with massage therapy, and I endeavoured to relieve those symptoms of pain the best I could in the circumstances. This mainly involved relaxing muscles, relieving pressure in certain areas of the body and hopefully releasing some pain. Depending on the individual, the severity of the illness and the patient’s response were all contributing factors to how useful massage therapy can be. There are definitely times when the patient may be too exhausted from treatment to even have a massage, whereas other times massage is met with clear physical and sometimes emotional relief.

Therapists are able to offer a variety of bodywork options, each with their own benefits and at times a combination of several techniques works extremely well, depending on the clients’ individual needs.

Treatments can include:
Swedish Massage
Sports Massage
Neuromuscular therapy

The type and style of massage therapy needed will very much depend on the circumstances presented to the therapist at the time of the treatment. The patient often needs different types of massage therapy at different stages of their illness. A competent therapist will be able to modify treatments given such as varying the speed and pressure of massage strokes on certain areas of the body. It goes without saying that communication between patient and therapist is essential, so if the relationship is not correct from the outset a different therapist would be advised if the patient is to get the full benefits massage therapy that it can potentially offer.

As mentioned above massage may help relieve stress and pain but it may also boost the patient’s mood and immune system. Some research shows that massage releases chemicals (endorphins) in the body, producing feelings of pleasure and well being. Other research has even suggested that with a boost of the immune system, massage is indirectly related to the production of more cancer fighting cells, although it is important to stress that massage has never been referred to as a possible cure for cancer but studies have shown the increasing number of benefits that massage offers as a support therapy whilst other treatment is ongoing.

There is now very little evidence supporting the idea that massage therapy worsens patient’s symptoms or their condition as a whole. In contrast more and more experts are recognising bodywork to be an important part of a treatment plan, but before starting any kind of bodywork massage therapists will always insist on having the permission from a patient’s doctor before they provide their own therapy.

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Massage: relieve pain and suffering from woman with endometriosis

endometriosisAre you one of the many women that has or will suffer from endometriosis in your lifetime? Or a partner or family member of one? It’s estimated that 1 out of 10 or as high as 1 in 5 women will suffer from endometriosis.

Endometriosis can have extremely severe, detrimental effects for women and in turn, these negative effects ripple out to partners, family, friends, work colleagues; the list goes on leaving significant negative consequences on many people’s lives.

Endometriosis  is a gynecological disorder where the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) develops in other sites of the body. Stray cells of the endometrium escape into the pelvic cavity and attach to pelvic organs. Large patches of endometriosis may form into cysts and these bleed each month when a women has her period. As there is nowhere for the blood to go each month, it accumulates on the pelvic organs, scar tissue forms and eventually the pelvic organs stick together. For most women, it goes from bad to worse over time. Despite there being several theories the cause remains unknown. It may be genetic, immunological or hormonal; stress appears to be a significant factor.

endometriosisSymptoms vary hugely between women from none at all to painful menstruation, lower abdominal pain and back pain. The pain experienced varies from dull aching, spasmodic or cramping with some women experiencing a feeling of deep pressure in the abdomen. Others suffer from bowel and digestive problems. Irregular and heavy periods to painful sexual intercourse are symptoms effecting three out of four women with endometriosis. 40% of all women with endometriosis have difficulty falling pregnant and one third of all sufferers are infertile. All of these symptoms add up to a devastating effect for women often leading to self esteem issues and adversely effecting a woman’s sexuality and relationships. Add to this the extensive cost to society for days off work, lost productivity and the mounting cost to the health system let alone the detrimental effect on the sufferers bank balance! The pain itself can cause harmful side effects and can affect concentration and mental clarity just as profoundly as any drugs.    

Conventional medical treatment for endometriosis includes drug therapy. This can be successful however lesions sometimes reoccur when the sufferer stops taking the drugs. The drugs used have negative side effects with 85% of patients experiencing male like characteristics. This continues the cycle of increased stress for the sufferer along with feelings of hopelessness and depression. Some also experience weight gain, high blood pressure and joint problems. Painkillers are the norm for pain relief and with that comes their know side effects. The oral contraceptive pill is also used as treatment.

Surgery is an option to remove lesions with a hysterectomy the last resort – even this is not always the end to endometriosis. Pregnancy was thought to help however some women report no change or even a worsening of symptoms.

endometriosisFor many, drug therapy and surgery is not the desired treatment. So what are some safe, natural alternatives to these two options and do they work?  One study reported in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, The effects of Massage Therapy on Dysmenorrhea caused by Endometriosis states “According to the results of this study and confirmations of other ones, it seems that massage therapy can be a fitting method to reduce the menstrual pain caused by endometriosis”.

Further research I’ve undertaken supports this study. One Remedial Massage Therapist I interviewed identified six clients with the disorder. She stated all had reported significant stress in their lives and massage assisted with this aspect. She herself had been diagnosed with it and at the time was in a dysfunctional abusive relationship. The relationship ended, she has not suffered from it since supporting the correlation to Mind Body Spirit in relation to wellness. While two other massage therapists I interviewed have not experienced patients with the disease, massage and therapeutic touch is undoubtedly helpful in relieving pain, anxiety and stress. 

A second aspect to investigate is Aromatherapy Massage. Massage with Aromatherapy works on an emotional, physical and spiritual level. It is gentle, encouraging physiological absorption of essential oils into the blood stream, encouraging our nervous system to relax.

Essential oils are potent substances being the plants “life force”. A trained Aroma therapist can incorporate essential oils into a massage blend using oils with analgesic and antispasmodic properties. Examples being nutmeg, clary sage and Roman chamomile which may be used in a massage blend over the abdomen and hips regions. There are many other amazing essential oils all with their own therapeutic properties which could be used. It’s important to choose oils which resonate with the receiver at a mind body spirit level, thereby enhancing their overall wellbeing. I have given clients a personalised blend to take home within my practice including instructions on self tummy and lower back massage. As a result, clients have reported a greater calmness and reduction in pain. This action appears to assist the client in regaining some personal power, at the same time connecting in with their own body in an area which is often closed down.  

A third tool for the massage therapists toolkit is acupressure. The release of specific acupressure points relative to the pelvic and reproductive organs can be incorporated into a massage session. The stimulation of acupressure points helps reduce pain and discomfort by relaxing muscular tension, balancing the bodies energy system and increasing the body’s production of endorphins, our feel good hormones. Polarity therapy can also assist, promoting deep relaxation and revitalisation of the body’s energy system. Both of these therapies assist in treating “the whole person” not just the immediate area of pain.     

endometriosisUndoubtedly, touch therapies work in partnership with the body to promote well being. While deep abdominal, or pelvic massage may be very painful, provided normal massage protocols are adhered to regular massage can improve immunity to illness, promote relaxation and self healing plus enhance the effectiveness of other treatments.  Massage is a safe, effective, non invasive, holistic treatment for endometriosis. I would certainly question the cost to benefit ratio of a regular massage as opposed to the treatment options frequently promoted.

Nutrition – both our primary foods (exercise, career, spirituality, relationships) and secondary food (the food on our plate) all play a vital role in the management of endometriosis. 





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