In the first of a three part series on baby massage from Lucy Johns of Lucy’s Angels, we hear how she found sanctuary in the therapy when she struggled to breastfeed.
Ten years ago, I attended a slightly shabby council run Baby Massage Course which, unbeknown to me, was to be the start of my Baby Massage Career. The class was taught by this ultra cool hippyish woman who carried her two year old son in a sling on her hip for the duration of each class. She spotted the misery I was experiencing through my battle with breastfeeding. When I wearily explained to her that I had blood in my milk which was constantly dismissed in diagnosis with professionals insisting I persevere, she told me to give myself a break and ‘offer the poor kid a bottle. You can carry on bonding through the massage darling’. The relief was instant. At 23, I was the first of my friends to have a baby, my mum had just died and I didn’t have many close people around with experience to give me advice.
My daughter responded immediately to the massage. I remember the other mums commenting at her obvious delight as she cooed and giggled her way throughout the sessions. For the first time she must have felt me relax, releasing those much needed oxytocin hormones in both of us.
I dedicated myself to massaging Lula everyday in those early months, after the bath, lights down low with Cafe Del Mar as our soundtrack. It’s no wonder she slept through the night from 10 weeks old. When I went back to work our massage sessions became less frequent but I have massaged Lula and her younger brother ever since.
I’ve been working professionally with children for the past five years and wanted to qualify in Baby Massage to be able to offer classes for parents to complement my nursery and childminding work. As I was handing out flyers recently and describing my class to a father he commented, ‘Blimey, talk about over-pampering your baby, there was none of that in my day,’ then he thought for a second and added ‘mind you, I do remember my mum stroking my forehead to help me sleep.’ He smoothed his fingers across his brow and smiled at the memory.
Baby massage isn’t a fad or a luxury class to ‘over pamper’ your offspring, there are historical accounts of baby massage being used in ancient civilisations dating back 3000 years. This ancient art creates deep emotional bonds and lays a lifetime foundation of trust and love between parent and child. As I started to research ancient Indian philosophies, my wonderful neighbour gave me an incredible dusty old book about Chinese ‘Taoist’ infant massage strokes that really resonated with me and I incorporated into my routine. In my next blog I’ll share some of these wonderfully named strokes like ‘Awakening the dragon’ and ‘Opening the door of life’ for relieving things such as teething pain or relaxing tension.
In the meantime I shall leave you with the stroke the aforementioned father remembered to help calm your little ones.
– Place your thumb and forefinger of one hand on the forehead at a point above the bridge of the nose and between the eyebrows.
– Separate the thumb and forefinger along the brow, towards the temples. Repeat until baby indicates to stop.
– The Taoists describe the amount of pressure to apply as ‘as if running your finger and thumb over a sheet of gold leaf to smooth it out without tearing’.
Well, goodbye for now and look after your precious bundles of gold until next time!
For more details or to book one of Lucy’s courses visit her website.
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