I wrote this article for pregnant and new mamas, but much of it applies to all of us. A regular ritual of self-massage is a great way to create prosperity for yourself!
The changes in a mama’s body during pregnancy, birth and postpartum can be a source of shame and frustration, or of excitement and celebration. By nurturing yourself in ways that acknowledge and appreciate these changes, you gain healthy self-image and a positive outlook on the process. Self-massage is one relaxing and pleasurable way to care for yourself in this way, as well as enhance your physical health.
Massage stimulates your circulatory and lymphatic systems, keeping a healthy flow of oxygen and nutrients into your cells and wastes out from them. It releases physiological chemicals that relieve stress and maintain good health. Mamas can benefit from its ability to improve skin elasticity and reduce swelling. Self-massage provides an opportunity to regularly connect with your body, and appreciate its changes over time.
Self-massage as a regular self-care ritual is ideal for pregnant and new mamas who may be stressed by bodily changes, less sleep and new responsibilities. Create a regular quiet time to indulge in your body – after a shower or bath, just before bed, first thing in the morning, or another time when you can focus on yourself. Here are some ideas:
- Make this time special. Even if it’s just five minutes, make it sacred by turning down the lights, turning off your phone, and closing the door.
- Observe each part of your body visually and with touch. Enjoy your curves. See how your stretch marks, scars or other physical changes can be badges of honor, symbols of this rite of passage of motherhood.
- Try different kinds of touch: gentle strokes, light kneading, fingertip or full hand. Feel the surface of your skin, and feel the shapes and textures underneath. (Light self-massage is generally safe. If you want to work more deeply in an area, or if you have any concerns about massaging during pregnancy, consult with a prenatal massage therapist or a health care provider familiar with massage.)
- Though self-massage can be done without it, you may enjoy using a massage oil or lotion. Find one that feels luxurious, or make one by adding a couple drops of therapeutic-grade essential oil to food-grade coconut, grapeseed or almond oil. A few essential oils to try: lavender, ylang ylang, neroli or geranium. (There are some essential oils to avoid or use carefully during pregnancy. Check with an essential oil guide or a health care practitioner familiar with essential oils.)
- If there are areas you can’t reach, ask your partner or someone you trust to lightly massage them. You can also use a long-handled body brush (available at natural health and health food stores) to gently stroke these areas. The brush should be used before any oil or lotion is applied.
- If baby is in your belly, this can be a great time to say hello. Gently massage your belly and baby while talking with baby.
When you spend time acknowledging and appreciating your body with self-massage, you honor yourself as a mother. Pregnancy, birth and postpartum are sacred rites of passage in a woman’s life. Celebrate yourself!