Postnatal Massage – Any Good?

ImageIf you are pregnant, near full term, and you want to have a postnatal massage after you give birth, it is time to look for a good massage therapist and book her time now.

There was a time when one have to depend on word of mouth, and to know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows how to do postnatal massage. During those days, when we say postnatal massage, what we meant was the Malay postnatal massage. These days, Malay postnatal massage is not the only choice in town anymore. You also don’t have to go through tedious connection to find one. A lot of spa and massage centers offer pre- and postnatal massage. You just need to visit one of these centers, try out their pre-natal massage to have a feel of their service and skill, and book their package for postnatal massage. You can even take note of the therapist whom you prefer and specifically book her for your postnatal massage. Different places or therapist offer different packages. Some offer a choice of 3-days, 5 days, or 7 days. Some even offer more. Prices vary from places to places and from package to package.

Let’s talk about the Malay massage, which is the only one I have experienced.

According to the therapist who did it for it for me, the oil that they use is supposed to have some therapeutic properties. The massage is supposed to ‘put the womb back in place’ – whatever that means – and of course, helps the body to return to pre-pregnancy state or help you to regain your figure.

A more ‘scientific’ explanation of the benefits of traditional malay massage can be found here. Basically, like any type of massage, it helps with tiredness, aches and pains that are associated with childbirth, promote blood circulation, helps removal of toxins, and helps you to relax.

When I gave birth to my first child, I was on a frugal campaign and felt that postnatal massage was not necessary for recovery. When I had my second baby, I felt that I needed a bit of pampering. My first birth experience was rather traumatic and I felt that for all that I went through to have a baby, I deserved to have a bit of pampering. Hence, I had both pre- and post-natal massage when I had my second child.

I booked a therapist through the massage center that did my prenatal massage. I chose a particular therapist who did one of my prenatal session because I liked her skills. I cannot remember now but I think I booked a 7 day session. The price was around the range of $500.

As I was breastfeeding my baby, I told the therapist I did not want any of the Jamu (traditional malay herbal medicine) that I had to take orally, but she could use whatever Jamu that was for external application. However, I took a look at whatever jamu oil she used and saw that it was nothing more than medicated oil similar to our Chinese ‘hong yu’. So much for secret herbal formula! You can request that the therapist use whatever massage oil you prefer. For instance, I asked my therapist to use my Clarins Body Treatment Oil which I had quite a bit leftover from pregnancy.

The massage itself was ok. I was experiencing some rather bad aches and I felt my joints were all loose from the labour. So the massage provided some relief.

The traditional Malay massage also involves body binding. The traditional way was to bind the torso without taking the binding cloth off at all. Some people bind their bodies throughout their confinement. Some bind throughout the therapy duration. Some can’t wait to take it all off at once. The binding is supposed to help you regain your figure, I guess. But it helped me in a sense that I didn’t feel so much like a puppet on a string when I had the binding.

For the binding to be effective, it has to be tight and you are not supposed to take it off! But in our hot weather, it is very hard to bear with the ‘bondage’. A lot of people I know will take the binding off after a few hours. I was a bit more ‘compliant’. This was my arrangement. I would bathe in the morning before the therapist arrived – yes, I do bathe during confinement! Then I will have my session with the therapist. After the session, I would get my binding done. I kept the binding on until bedtime. I would remove the binding before I went to bed. The reason why I removed the binding was simply because my skin needed to breathe! I tried to keep the binding on the very first day, and I itched because of the perspiration and lack of air circulation. Rashes started appearing. The problem disappeared when I started to remove my binding at night to allow the skin to breathe and dry.

As for weight loss and regaining of figure, I have never believed that postnatal massage will help. For me, breastfeeding is still the No.1 calorie burner. So if you are thinking of booking postnatal massage solely with the hope of weight loss in mind, my opinion is that you will probably be better off saving that money and investing it in some exercise class or gym membership later on.

On the other hand, if you just want to have some therapy for the aches and pains and to help you to de-stress and relax (having a baby can be stressful in the beginning), by all means, pamper yourself with a course of postnatal massage.

What you will need

What you will need for postnatal massage session may vary depending on your therapist. For me, the things that I needed were :

1. At least 2 large towels.

Beach towels are the best as they are large enough. I lay one on my bed to prevent the massage oil and the smell from sticking to the bedsheet. The other one is to cover my body during the massage session. The towels should preferably be washed everyday.

2. Bed or mattress.

This one depends on your therapist preference also. Mine preferred the bed.

3. A small pillow for your head.

Actually, for me, my Boppy came in handy! When the therapist was massaging my back, I lay face down with my head on the Boppy. The hole in the centre was just perfect for my face and I didn’t have to be smothered.

4. My own massage oil.

As I mentioned, I requested that the therapist use my Clarins Body Treatment Oil. You may want to use your own massage oil, especially if you cannot stand the smell of the jamu oil.

5. Baby Powder.

After the massage, I was not supposed to bathe, since I would have my binding on. In order to get rid of the greasy feeling, I had to powder myself.

6. Bathrobe.

Just for convenience. It was easy to get in and out of a bathrobe, rather than getting undressed and dressed, for the session.

7. Feed the Baby First!

This is technically not a ‘thing’, but I just add it to the list to remind you to feed the baby right before your session so that you don’t have to stop halfway to feed the baby, even though most therapists should be understanding about feeding interruptions. Some therapists will even offer to do massage on the baby! Preferably, you should have someone else to help attend to the baby, should the need arise. My baby nap about the time of my session, so it worked out just fine.

Would I Do It Again (if I do have another baby)?

Probably not. Now that I have tried the traditional Malay massage, I am satisfied to know that this is not something I desperately need. The money would probably be better spent engaging the service of a doula to assist me in labour. If I really need some pampering, I would probably just book a normal massage therapist to come in as and when I need, instead of signing on to a whole course of therapy.