Frequently Asked Questions

Female Fertility MassagePregnancy MassagePostpartum MassageReflexologyAromatherapyInfant MassageAttending a WorkshopPreemies & Special Needs Infants

Q: What is Fertility Massage?

A: Fertility Massage is a way to help prepare the body and mind for the best possible chances for conception and pregnancy.
Difficulty conceiving can be stressful, painful, and take a large toll on your body, mind, and everything else. This special form of massage can help calm your mind, make you more aware of your body, and above all, help you to attain your goal of having a child.

Q: Who can have Fertility Massage?

A: Anyone who wants to have a child can receive Fertility Massage.
If you have been having difficulty conceiving, had past issues, or even if you are healthy and planning your first or next child, Fertility Massage can help increase your chances of a successful conception and healthy pregnancy.

Q: How often will I need to come for fertility massage?

A: Depending on the severity of the problem, it may take as little as one session of massage therapy; or, it may take many months of treatments to achieve good pelvic health and have bad uterine positioning be corrected.
I typically see women 2-3 times per week in pre-conception and while they are actively trying to conceive. Women often report a rapid improvement in symptoms and a sense of overall well-being after the first few sessions.

Q: Is there any time that I should not receive fertility massage?

A: Yes. Fertility Massage should not be performed during your period, or if you think you may be pregnant.
It is ideally performed from cycle days 5-7 (at the end of your menses) and up until day 14 (or right before ovulation).

Q: I am a few weeks away from my in-vitro fertilization or pre-embryo transfer. Is this a good time to receive massage?

A: Yes, this is a good time to regain balance in your body and enhance blood flow and ligament mobility in your uterus.

Q: Can I come in for a session during my clomid/letrizole treatment?

A: Yes. Sessions will be tailored based on where you are in the Concurrent Clomid/Letrizole Treatment.

Q: I am post-embryo transfer or in-vitro fertilization and it has failed. Is this a good time to receive fertility massage?

A: Yes, this is a great time for massage!
Sometimes women choose to take a break from actively trying to conceive at this point (especially if there have been many unsuccessful attempts). They recognize that that they may need uterine, physical and emotional restoration before embarking on subsequent fertility treatments.

Q: What is shiatsu and why is it good for fertility?

A: Shiatsu is a Japanese finger-pressure therapy based on Traditional Chinese medicine and Japanese therapy.
Shiatsu uses gentle but firm thumb pressure on specific acupressure points along the body,
which can be tailored to target points that directly affect fertility and help to balance the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical levels in the body.

Q: What is reflexology and why is it good for fertility?

A: Reflexology, a traditional healing art dating from the ancient Egyptians and Chinese, involves manipulation of pressure points in the feet which correspond to the different organ systems of the body (much like acupuncture).
By massaging and stimulating different points on the feet, specifically the reproductive points and areas, therapists claim they can unblock energy pathways in the body and so help the body to regain its natural balance and heal itself. Some specific points that are stimulated are the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endocrine gland points are also stimulated since our hormones directly affect our reproductive system.

Q: How does fertility massage specifically assist fertility?

A: The holistic sessions will focus on pelvic structure, optimal uterine alignment and
healthy blood flow to the organs of the reproductive system.
This bodywork is unique when compared to regular massage and bodywork.

Q: Does fertility massage have success rates?

A: While there have not been any formal studies done on the success of Fertility Massage, practitioners of this therapy have observed a high success rate with their clients.
Most therapists claim a 60-80% success rate with successful pregnancies. Often times, Fertility Massage is one of the last therapies utilized when other methods have been unsuccessful.

The good news is that the techniques and protocol used with Fertility Massage cannot hurt, and will only help to improve pelvic health and fertility!

Q: What is abdominal/pelvic massage & why is it good for fertility?

A: Abdominal massage utilizes several different techniques to help break up adhesions in the pelvis, increase circulation, decrease inflammation and help the body rid itself of old blood left in the endometrial tissues.
It also aides in proper positioning of the uterus, which is helpful for women with "tilted" or leaning uteruses.

Fertility Massage therapy can help your body prepare for pregnancy. I recommend a series of sessions to improve your fertility & general health. Generally, one session does not produce a baby, and I wouldn't want clients to be misled. Infertility has many causes and in most cases needs a multi-discipline approach to resolve the problem.
Massage works well with alternative medicine (herbs, acupuncture, Hypnotherapy) as well as traditional medicine (medication, IVF, artificial insemination).

We will discuss your health history in detail and decide what techniques to employ for maximum benefit. Our goals could be; stress reduction, scar tissue release, hormone balancing, increased abdominal circulation, detoxification, energy balancing, improving digestive function (by clearing out the colon), or a combination of these and others.

I may use techniques including deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, acupressure, Reiki,
castor oil packs, aromatherapy, cranio-sacral massage, abdominal massage, scar release and reflexology. At no time will I do any internal massage, expose or massage the genitals. All of the techniques I use are non-invasive. I will also instruct you on some self-care techniques  you can do at home. Massage can be used with IVF patients to relieve stress & reduce the side effects of the medications.

Timing is important when scheduling a Fertility Massage. It is best to perform it during the first part of your menstrual cycle: abdominal massage is not to be performed after ovulation in case you may be pregnant already. Our goal is to decrease roadblocks & make your body a nice place for a baby to call home for 9 months.

Even if you are using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) such as IVF, IUI, etc., you can still receive Fertility Massage to supplement and work with your treatments for optimal results.

Medical difficulties such as endometriosis, low oestrogen levels, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and more can make conception difficult, but the methods used in this unique form of massage may help.

Q: How many weeks pregnant do I need to be to have a pregnancy massage?

A: Alison Strauss the Massage Specialist KZN specializes in administering massage from pre-pregnancy (to increase fertility) all through, pregnancy and post-pregnancy, so you never have to go without massage when you need it most.

Q: I am in my first trimester of pregnancy and another practitioner would not massage me. Why does Alison Strauss the Massage Specialist KZN offer this service when others do not?

A: The majority of massage therapists are not specialists or correctly trained in this field.
M
ost spas don't offer pregnancy massage during the first trimester because 85% of miscarriages occur during this time-frame, and they don't want to be liable in case anything does happen. That doesn't mean that massage during the first trimester is not safe. There is no medical reason massage should be avoided during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and massage does not "cause" a miscarriage. If you have any doubts about your personal case, or have been labelled as "high risk" for any reason, definitely consult with your doctor before booking your appointment with our prenatal massage specialist.

Q: I heard you shouldn't have your feet massaged when you are pregnant because there are acupressure points in the feet that can trigger contractions. Is that true? Is it safe to get a foot massage?

A: Very True-if you do not go to a specially trained massage therapist.
Now more than ever, your feet need relief from joint pressure and swelling. There are acupressure points around the ankles and feet that, when actively and aggressively worked, can bring on contractions. This is handy during labour, but those specific places and techniques are carefully avoided until then. This is one of the many reasons to see a knowledgeable, pregnancy-specialised therapist. In general, however, it is completely safe to massage the feet. They’re swollen and tired and definitely deserve hands-on pain relief!

Q: Is It Okay to Get a Massage as I Approach My Due Date?

A: You may be relieved to know that in most cases it is safe, beneficial, and even recommended to receive massage up to your due date and beyond.
The end of the 3rd trimester is likely the time that you will be the MOST uncomfortable and in need of some massage. It is perfectly safe to get a massage during this time, even in the early stages of labour; the techniques we use can help with your lower back/sacrum pain and reduce swelling in the legs and feet. Many women schedule a session on their due date so they have something to look forward to if they have not yet gone into labour. A massage is a great way to prepare your body for the experience of giving birth. Women on bed rest should receive modified massage, (very light pressure on extremities and specific adapted abdominal massage) and you should always consult your doctor before coming in for an appointment if you have special circumstances, or are on bed rest or have a high risk pregnancy.

Q: How soon after delivery can I receive another massage?

A: In most cases, as soon as you like.
We have given massages as soon as one hour after the birth of the baby, and it seems to make a real difference in postpartum recovery. Massage soon after delivery can aid recovery by increasing your circulation and cleansing toxins like lactic acid from your muscles (after all, you've just run the marathon of all marathons!)

We like to be able to help as soon as possible, but realistically there are issues surrounding
the logistics of childcare and feeding times. Although we do not provide childcare, you are welcome to bring a caregiver with you. Then you can receive your massage without worry, and feed your infant before or after your session. Women who have had a Caesarean-section usually need to wait a few weeks and bring written approval from their physician.The same cushioning system used during pregnancy allows much more comfortable massage while you are breastfeeding.

Q: Can I bring my baby?

A: Yes, you many bring your baby to your massage session.
Some women like to have the baby on the table with them; others bring bouncy chairs, Moses baskets or car seats. Breaks nursing, comforting, and diaper changes are always supported.

Q: It’s uncomfortable to lie on my breasts; will you be able to massage my back?

A: For comfort, it is often helpful to nurse just before having your massage.
If lying directly on the breasts is still uncomfortable, supports can be placed under the body to decrease pressure, or you can receive massage for the back in a side-lying position.

Q: Is postnatal massage only for relaxation?

A: No.
In addition to facilitating relaxation, postnatal massage is also a wonderful way to rehabilitate the abdominal muscles, decrease muscular tension resulting from nursing and carrying infants, re-educate postural alignment and, in the case of caesarean sections, aid in functional scar healing.

Q: How is a post-pregnancy massage different from a normal massage?

A: Pregnancy massage is specifically suited to the needs of women who have just given birth, and has all the benefits of regular massage, plus some targeted effects to help strengthen the new mother and help her recover.
For many generations, new mothers have been given daily, full-body massages during the first few weeks after the delivery.
Many women start getting full body massages as soon as they come home from the hospital (if you've had a caesarean section, you might need to wait a little longer till your wound heals; research precautions to take when getting massages after a caesarean), but get your doctor to confirm if you are ready for one before you start. To be sure it is done right, find a specialist or therapist that is experienced in giving post pregnancy massages.

It is unusual that massage after birth has any influence on postnatal bleeding, but if you have very heavy bleeding or notice an increase in blood flow, it's best to stop the massage and contact your doctor to make sure nothing is wrong.

Q: What are the benefits of getting a post pregnancy massage?

A: Many medical experts believe that getting massaged after your delivery has several benefits.

They say that post pregnancy massages help:

  • Reduce sore spots and relax muscle tension – The process of childbirth is a strain on your body, particularly your abdomen, lower back and hips, not to mention your upper back due to breastfeeding.  A massage increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your muscles, getting rid of the toxins.
  • Bring your body back to its pre-pregnancy state – The kneading and stroking action is designed to help tone and tighten stretched areas, like your tummy.
  • Your body release endorphins - the natural pain killers and feel good hormones secreted by the brain.
  • Your body release oxytocin, which helps trigger the milk ejection reflex to move your milk out of the nipple, making it easier for you to breastfeed your baby. And the more you breastfeed your baby, the more milk you will produce. A breast massage will help open blocked ducts, loosen clumps or hardened areas, and reduce the risk of mastitis.
  • Speed up recovery from a caesarean section if you've had one. Once your cut has healed, gently massaging the scar tissue may help soften and smoothen out the scar.
  • It also increases circulation to the area.
  • May help lighten stretch marks.
  • Improve well-being and immunity by stimulating lymph flow.
  • Reduce aches, cramps and spasms.
  • Cope with baby blues and postnatal or postpartum depression.

Some experts say that a massage is an excellent stress reducer and mood elevator.

If nothing else, a massage will help you relax, cope with stress and ensure you stop and rest a while.

Q: What precautions must I take if I have had a caesarean?

A: A caesarean section is a major surgery and might hurt. A lot.
You will need time to recover from it. It’s recommended that you wait till your scar is healed before you start getting massages. This should take about a week or two, but let your doctor confirm you are ready for massages before you start.

Massages are meant to help you relax, so remind your specialist to avoid your scar and abdomen. Any pressure in that area so early on after delivery may cause problems.
It's safer to stick to the feet, head, arms and back.

After around 5-6 weeks, a special scar tissue massage will help the scar fade and heal the deeper layers of the wound. Some experts believe that a scar massage can help prevent your tissues from sticking together, which is common after a surgery. This involves special massaging of the region around your scar. Make sure to go to a therapist or specialist who is familiar with this kind of massage.

Some say the best time to start the scar tissue massages is within the first 14 weeks of giving birth, but make sure to get your doctor's approval first.

Q: How do I make time for a post pregnancy massage?

A: After your baby arrives, you will be busier than you have ever been in your life.
Your world will turn to the tune of nappy changes, 2 a.m. feedings, bathing and massaging your baby, washing dirty clothes and so much more. Being in the midst of all this hustle and bustle can be stressful. So it's important to get some "me time", difficult though it may seem.

  • Ask for help. Ask your husband, mother, mother-in-law, or any other trusted family member to look after your little one while you get a massage. Or try to have it when he or she is asleep. You may be surprised to find many offers of help. Knowing that someone trustworthy is looking over your little one will help you relax. The last thing you want to do while getting a massage is worry!
  • Pick the right time. Try to have your massage just after you have fed and changed your little one. If all his or her needs are met, you are more likely to find an hour or two in which they do not ask for you. It will then also be easier to leave them with another family member or trusted babysitter for a while.
  • Schedule ahead. If you have to go out for your massage, you may want to schedule your massage appointments on weekends when your husband is home to babysit, or perhaps in the afternoon when your baby is taking a nap. This way you get a time that is convenient and less worrisome for you.

Q: When shouldn't I get a post pregnancy massage?

A: A massage may be risky if:

  • You have skin problems such as rashes, blisters, boils and eczema
  • You have any medical complications
  • You have high blood pressure; a lighter type of massage may be more suitable
  • You have a hernia

Remember: it's always best to speak to your doctor before you start going for massage
treatments.

What to expect at the first Reflexology session?
The practitioner will get the client to fill in a history/medical client card and will discuss reasons for the session.
Clients are encouraged to ask questions. The first session is approximately 60-90minutes.

Do I remove my clothing?
You will only ever need to remove shoes and socks.
The feet and/or hands will be cleansed either with hand wipes. Other than the removal of socks and shoes, the client remains fully dressed.

How will I be positioned?
On a massage table or seated in an anti-gravity chair for the session.
The Reflexology treatment consists of medium thumb and finger pressure applied to feet and/or hands.

What will I feel during a Reflexology session?
You should feel very relaxed and possibly fall asleep.
Some clients begin to perspire due to toxins being released from the body.

Friends have said that Reflexology is painful?
The pressure that is applied is firm, but should not be painful.
If there are painful points on the hands/feet, these are signs of energy blocks at the corresponding body point. The Reflexologist will continue to work the tender spots until the energy blocks are released or adjust the treatment if need be.

How will I feel after a Reflexology session?
Directly after a session, clients may feel much rested and in a relaxed state.
It is the responsibility of the client to ensure that she or he is fully alert before proceeding to drive a car.

What can I expect after one or two treatments?
You should notice that they have more energy,
more productive waste elimination (i.e. better bowl movements & Urine), sleep better.

What substances are used?
Powder and/or lotion may be used during the session.
Please let the Reflexologist know if you have any allergies.

How many Reflexology sessions will I need before I see results?
Clients may see results after one or two sessions.
For maximum results, it is suggested that clients have one session per week for four to five consecutive weeks.

Why should I commit to a maintenance plan?
Like all good things, we need to continue with good practices;
just like exercising, brushing your teeth, and watching your diet.

What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils in conjunction with specific massage routines to enhance psychological and physical well-being.
The oils are extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other plant parts.

What are essential oils?
Essential oils are the fragrant essence removed from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other plant parts.
These highly concentrated liquid oils are the foundation of aromatherapy, which is based on the theory that all extracted oils have healing properties.

How are essential oils that we use in aromatherapy, extracted?
Distillation is the most prominent method used to extract aromatherapy oils.
This process involves steaming the plant matter until it breaks down. The by-product of this breakdown phase is the plant’s fragrant oil, which is cooled, separated from the water and finally filtered into its pure essential oil component.

Can essential oils be applied directly to my skin?
No.
This is not generally recommended since they are highly concentrated and can cause skin irritation or burning.

Can I use essential oils internally?
No.
Given their concentration levels, essential oils can be toxic if swallowed.

What is the best way to use essential oils?
Always use small amounts of the oils diluted in either a carrier oil or a massage lotion to apply externally to the skin or prepared for use in a bath.

Can essential oils treat serious illness?
There is some genuine evidence to suggest that essential oils can help serious illness.
If you have a serious illness, and have tried conventional treatments without success, then what is there to lose? However, ALWAYS seek medical advice from a medical doctor first, when combining the use of alternative therapies with medical drugs.

Can I use essential oils if I'm pregnant?
Yes, but do so with extreme caution.
We recommend avoiding the use of essential oils during the first trimester, and then light use only through the rest of the pregnancy (no more than 1% dilution).  Oils like geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, mandarin, neroli, tangerine, and ylang ylang are considered safe oils.  However, to be extra safe, rather discuss usage with your aromatherapist and with your midwife and/or gynaecologist.

Q: What is Infant Massage?

A: Infant Massage is the very special art of using nurturing touch to communicate with your infant, to show them that they are loved, welcomed and respected, and that they can feel safe and secure in their new world.
It is a wonderful way of bonding with your infant as it works on an emotional as well as a physical level, developing closeness between parent and infant that has lifelong benefits.

Parents/Caregivers are taught to massage their own infant using a specifically designed series of strokes. This series combines Indian and Swedish massage along with Reflexology techniques and some gentle yoga based exercises into a routine designed to be beneficial for infants.

Q: Does infant massage help with reflux or colic?

A: Yes, infant massage can help ease the discomfort of both reflux and Colic.
I teach you a special massage sequence to use which will help alleviate these symptoms.

Q: Can Infant massage reduce constipation?

A: Yes.
Abdominal massage stimulates peristalsis, the natural contraction of intestinal muscles so that your infant can have a bowel movement with less strain.

Q: Can Infant massage help my infant fall asleep?

A: Absolutely, massage can help your infant fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
Massage triggers the release of melatonin and other brain chemicals that promote sleep.

Q: When can I begin massaging my Infant?

A: Introducing touch can be started soon after birth. Start with skin-to-skin care (aka Kangaroo Care).
This involves placing your infant on your chest to facilitate close contact between you and your infant (Dads must do this too, as much as possible). You can gradually introduce back and leg strokes and then and then, following your infant’s cues involve other parts of the infant’s body, progressing to doing a daily full-body massage. By following your infant’s cues, looking for signs of being quiet and alert, you can begin massage during the first few weeks after birth and then gradually develop a nurturing routine that will last a lifetime. By attending my workshop you will learn all you need to know.

Q: Can my infant be massaged after an immunisation?

A: It is not recommended that infants are massaged within 72 hours of immunisations.
However, if this coincides with the one of the class dates you can still come along and use one of the provided demonstration dolls. The massage strokes are repeated regularly throughout the course.

Q: Why should I ask my infant if he wants a massage before starting a massage?

A: Respect is a human right, and infants understand much more than we realize.
When infants are quiet and alert (you will learn when this is on our workshop), this is the best time to them if they would like a massage. This helps them know that they can say yes or no to different forms of touch. We respect their body ownership and watch their cues to know if they want massage or not.

Q: Can I massage my infant while he is sleeping?

A: As a rule, starting a massage on a infant who is asleep is discouraged, since there is no way for him to give you “yes” or “no” cues.
Remember that infant massage is not only about strokes, but about communication, attachment and bonding. Don’t be surprised if your infant falls asleep during massage! Just finish off that area of the body, do some soothing strokes and kiss your infant goodnight.

Q: What are engagement cues?

A: Engagement cues are signals that your infant shows that you can use to check whether your infant is interested in massage or other types of interaction.

The following is a list of some engagement or “yes” cues:

  • Smiling
  • Stops moving
  • Cooing
  • Babbling
  • Gazing into your eyes
  • Bright face
  • Open mouth
  • Wide open eyes
  • Playful wiggling

 

The following is a list of disengagement or “no” cues. These behaviours tell you that your infant has had enough:

  • Crying/fussing
  • Dull eyes
  • Looking away, not making good eye contact
  • Yawning, hiccupping or sneezing
  • Furrowed brow
  • Squirming or kicking
  • Arching back
  • Turning away from you
  • Pressed or pouting lips

 

Q: When is the best time to massage my infant?

A: In general, a good time for massage is when your infant is in a quiet, alert state.
In this state, your infant’s eyes will be wide and bright. Her body will be relaxed and her breathing will be regular and smooth. Your infant will look calm, gazing at you or be happy to lay still. Communication and bonding are most enhanced when infant is in this state. However, any time your infant wants a massage is a good time!

The most important thing to remember is that your infant will let you know if she is interested or not. By observing your infant’s cues, you will know whether or not the time is right. Sometimes a infant may enjoy a few strokes and then lose interest. Or she may like certain areas massaged and not others. Whatever the case, be observant and let your infant take the lead!

Q: How often can I massage my Infant?

A: Follow your infant’s cues.
It is wonderful to have massage be part of the daily routine, and this will bring the most benefit for your infant, but some infants may like to have more massage done, such as stomach or legs at diaper changing time. You may give a massage in the morning or before an afternoon nap or after bath at night. Depending on your infant, you may do leg strokes at one time during the day, later do tummy strokes and back strokes at another time.

If you can do massage daily, that is wonderful for your infant. Some infants receive one or two massages a day.

Q: What type of oil should I use? Can I use an essential oil to massage my Infant?

A: It’s a good idea to use an organic, cold-pressed vegetable or fruit based oil for massaging your infant.
Remember that since fingers, fists and toes inevitably end up in your infant’s mouth, the oil you choose must be edible! Some good oils to use are: grapeseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, apricot oil and jojoba oil. The use of petroleum-based products (Vaseline or infant oil) is generally discouraged because they are not easily absorbed into the skin, are not edible and are not organic in nature. Also, natural oil is more warming than lotion and is not artificially scented.

In general, essential oils such as tea tree or lavender should not be used, as they can be harmful if used incorrectly. Besides this, a infant’s sense of smell is very strong, and important in recognizing his/her caregiver, and as such is an important part of the bonding which takes place during infant massage! For that reason, we don’t recommend using any fragrance or fragranced products near a young infant. As the infant gets older and becomes a toddler, you can use fragrances to entice your infant to receive a massage.

Some infants do have reactions to nut or wheat based products. Always perform a patch test with the oil you are planning to use, to ensure there is no allergic reaction or sensitivity: Rub a tiny amount of oil onto a small patch of your infant’s skin. Wait at least thirty minutes – as long as there are no red spots, blotches, discoloration or other signs of a reaction, proceed with the massage.

Q: How much pressure should I use?

A: Firm but gentle pressure is good.
You don’t want to use such a light touch that you are tickling your infant, and firm gentle pressure stimulates circulation. With practice, and by paying close attention to your infant’s cues, you will get to know what your infant likes. As always, let your infant tell you.

Q: Can I massage my infant when possibly ill?

A: Do not massage your infant if she has a fever, diarrhoea, skin rash or lesions or if she has had an immunization within the last 48-72 hours.
Wait until these symptoms have subsided before resuming your massage routine. However, you may use nurturing, loving touch to soothe your infant and communicate love! Place your still hands gently on your infant and look into her eyes. Touch alone, communicated in a loving manner, is often enough to calm a distressed infant!

IAIM MISSION: The purpose of the International Association of Infant Massage is to promote nurturing touch and  communication through training, education and research so that parents, caregivers and children are loved, valued and respected throughout the world community.

Q: What should my infant wear?

A: Your infant can wear anything, but it is a good idea to have them dressed in something that is easy to take on and off, as you will be undressing them for the massage.
It is also a good idea to bring along a change of clothes for them.

Q: What should I wear?

A: Classes are usually run with parents sitting on cushions or mats on the floor, so you should wear something comfortable and suitable for this situation.

Q: What should I bring to the workshop sessions?

A: Along with your normal diaper bag items, bring an extra receiving blanket and a pillow either for you to sit on or to prop up your infant.

Q: My infant cries a lot. What will I do if this happens during the workshop sessions?

A: This is a workshop’s are run for mums & babes and crying is welcomed and accepted.
All infant’s cry! This is how they communicate. Classes are entirely “baby led” and you should feel free to tend to your baby’s needs in whatever way you need to by feeding, changing, walking around etc. while class is going on. The instructor will usually keep going as much as possible but if there is a general outcry a little “cuddle break” will often be taken.

Q: My baby is very active. What will I do if he won’t lie still for the massage?

A: It is natural for babies to be active and curious.
Some babies will just want to see what’s going on around them and check out where they are and who is there! Remember, all baby massage classes are ‘baby led’ and it is perfectly okay for a baby to be active during the class. Most of the strokes taught can be adapted to babies in a sitting position, so this might be an option for you as the parent of an active baby.

Also remember that just because you are attending a baby massage class at a particular time, does not mean that your baby will want to be massaged at that particular time. It is okay just to watch the strokes and then you can try them at another time at home when it might suit your baby a little better. You may get some of the strokes done but not all of them and again this is perfectly okay.

Q: What if my infant is not in the mood for a massage at the time of the session? What will I do if my baby is asleep while the session is going on?

A: Massage sessions are scheduled for the prime time when your infant is in a “quiet alert” state.
Some times that are best can be late morning after a nap. You can also learn the massage movements at the time of the session and practice at a later time when your infant is ready.

If your infant is asleep while the class is going on you have 2 options. You can observe the class and then try the strokes at home later, at a time that suits your baby better. Alternatively, I try to always have a spare doll available and you can practice the strokes on the doll, as I am doing in the demonstration, and do the massage later with your infant.

Q: Up to what age can I use massage, I learn on this workshop?

A: Massage is easiest until your infant is crawling, especially if you are still learning.
However, older children still enjoy being massaged and continue to receive the same wonderful benefits. In fact, growing children may experience relief from teething, growing pains, and stress. Strokes can be adapted and massage time can be limited for the shorter attention span of a toddler. Stories or songs can be introduced to engage an older child. Massage can help teens balance hormones and ease menstrual cramps or other physical discomforts. It can also promote self-esteem and respect while keeping the lines of communication open and help continue a nurturing relationship. After all, people of all ages enjoy massage!

Q: After I've learned to massage my infant, can I teach my friend to massage her infant?

A: No. Once you've completed infant massage workshop sessions, you're only qualified to massage your baby.
These sessions do not certify you to teach other parents how to massage their infants. Certified Infant Massage Instructors go through an extensive hands-on and practical course, complete a practicum, and carry insurance in order to remain certified to teach.  Many are also Registered Massage Therapists, which means we have extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and kinesiology.

Q: Can I massage my premature infants? Is massage safe for preemies and micro-preemies, special needs infants?

A: Absolutely.
According to a study done by the Touch Research Institute, there is evidence that preemies who were regularly massaged or exposed to touch therapy gained more weight and were released from the hospital sooner than those infants who were not massaged. Premature infants often require more nurturing because they are still developing and growing in a way that full term infants would have done in the uterus before birth.

Massage for a premature infant is different, as they often prefer still touch to begin with because they are very sensitive to over-stimulation, may have special healthcare needs, and are not always able to exhibit cues the same way that a full term infant does. More normal Infant Massage can be provided for a premature infant once she weighs 1000 grams (2.2 lbs). A written release from your healthcare provider is required before you can be instructed to massage your premature infant.

Remember, it can be more difficult to determine when your premature infant is stressed or over stimulated. Pay very close attention to your infant’s cues. If at any time you are not sure massage is right for your little one, you can always provide nurturing touch to communicate your love and calm your infant.

Q: What proof is there that Infant Massage has benefits, and what are they?

A: Expanding research in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has documented the short-term advantages of gentle touch and massage for healthy term infants and for some growing and medically stable pre-term new-borns. Parents of preemies gain confidence and greater security in their handling skills through positive, healing, loving touch.

Significant Evidence-Based Research Findings show that Infant Massage:

  • Supports parent-infant interaction
  • Facilitates weight gain in preterm infants
  • Lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
  • Increases muscle tone
  • Improves sleep and awake patterns
  • Shortens lengths of stay in hospitals
  • Improves cognitive and motor development at eight months of age
  • Is an inexpensive tool
  • Can be used as part of the developmental care plan of preterm infants
  • Properly applied techniques produce increased benefits, such as improved developmental scores and earlier discharge

Recent research shows there are significant benefits to infant massage that outweigh over-stimulation. The Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida has been the leader in examining the benefits of infant massage with the premature infant to the full term well-infant.

Q: My infant has Special Needs/Down’s syndrome/Cystic Fibrosis – can I join the workshop? Can infants or children with special need benefit from massage?

A: Absolutely. You and your infant are very welcome in my infant massage workshop sessions.
IAIM Certified Infant Massage Instructors are experienced with a variety of challenges that face infants, and can teach parents techniques that best match their infant’s situation. Massage strokes and techniques can easily be adjusted if need be. Infant massage can be very helpful skill for parents of infants who have experienced challenges at the start of their lives or who have just been diagnosed, with long term medical issues. I have knowledge and experience in this area, and will work with you and your infant’s individual needs.

Q: My Infant has special healthcare needs. Can I still use Infant massage?

A: You may or may not be able to massage your infant with special healthcare needs, depending on the condition.
In this case, it is very important that you ask your doctor or healthcare provider before beginning a massage routine with your infant. Some medical conditions may actually be worsened with the increased circulation and stimulation of the lymphatic system that occurs during massage. However, if you have medical release, children with special healthcare needs can benefit significantly from massage. Once again, you may always use nurturing touch to calm and soothe your infant.

IAIM MISSION: The purpose of the International Association of Infant Massage is to promote nurturing touch and communication through training, education and research so that parents, caregivers and children are loved, valued and respected throughout the world community.