Claire's course was set at a good pace and was interesting and enjoyable.
It was good to learn about the benefits of the different massage techniques. The environment was great for massage and very calming.
I really enjoyed the course, it was interesting, informative, fun and relaxing.
The atmosphere was great and I think we learnt a lot and got so much better by the end. It really helped my confidence with my baby.
The structure of the course was great and repeating the strokes each week whilst practicing at home was good for both of us. It helped me remember the massage and my baby got used to being massaged. By the end of the course he was really enjoying being massaged.
I learnt much more than just massage strokes, I learnt about baby's health, reflexes, development and it was good to be able to discuss my concerns. I loved the individual 1:1 sessions - it enabled me to focus on connecting with my baby and we could focus on the strokes he liked. Claire was absolutely brilliant. She was very knowledgeable and professional. She was able to tailor the sessions for when my baby had a cold or didn't like a particular stroke.
Although the massage was for baby I felt much calmer and more relaxed during and after the session.
The songs were great for remembering the strokes and the hand-out and certificate was such a nice touch.
Well taught and relaxed atmosphere. Massage was a good length for the babies. The format of the course, building on what was learnt the previous weeks helped you remember the strokes.
Thank you to Hayley for this wonderful reflection on baby massage.....
Could you and your baby do with a massage?
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t feel like having a massage after a long day pushing a pram, sterilising formula bottles, having your nipples chewed, or changing your sixth nappy of the day (only for your baby to poop again as soon as you pick them up)? I think we can all agree us mums are deserving of a nice massage - not that I’m biased or anything.
But what about our babies? Do they really need a massage? After all, they don’t have to cope with the back pain that follows carrying a one-stone infant around in a sling for hours.
The thing is massage really can benefit babies. Touch is the first language infants understand and, because of this, being held and gently massaged makes them feel safe and secure. Massage can help to strengthen and tone babies’ muscles, calm fussiness, help them to sleep and even, in some cases,ease painful trapped wind and constipation. I could go on about all these benefits, but I thought instead I’d share what baby massage has meant to me and my daughter.
I always knew I’d breastfeed. My mum breastfed me, my friends breastfed their babies, I would breastfeed mine too. Sono one was more surprised than I was when I couldn’t. It just didn’t work.
It was mid-winter when Clara was born, but instead of snuggling up together and enjoying some skin-to-skin as she fed, I was listening to her cry while I messed around with thermos flasks, lost track of formula scoops and desperately tried to cool down her bottles.
All new mums feel anxious, but before too long my anxiety levels had built up to create a huge wall between my baby and me. I felt I’d let her down and that we couldn’t bond, and the guilt was overwhelming. My health visitor put me down to join a baby massage class at my local SureStart centre. To be honest, I was doubtful it would help.
Baby’s first massage
I can still remember that first class. Clara was just five weeks old and I turned up with some sick in my hair and my cardigan on inside out (although, of course, I didn’t realise this until I was leaving).
There were just five other mums there with babies aged from five weeks to five months. We tested the oil on a patch on our babies’ legs to make sure there was no reaction, and then stripped them down to their nappies and followed the class leader’s instructions. It was peaceful and there was a real sense that we’d all left our worries outside and were simply focussed on gently massaging our daughters or sons.
As I carefully massaged Clara’s arms and legs, I watched her as she stared wide-eyed at the light coming from the window; at the baby lying next to her; at the fibre optic lights on the floor. I realised this was probably the first time I had just watched her, without worrying that her breathing was uneven, that she was too hot or that she wasn’t eating enough. Instead, I just watched as she explored the world around her.
After the massage, we were asked to suggest nursery rhymes to sing to the babies. Week after week, our teacher could never remember the right words to sing – even if we’d sung it just the week before. Now I wonder if she actually did know them but was trying to show us nervous mums that it was okay to just wing it sometimes.
It was tiny details like these forgotten words and the fact that the lady on the reception desk always remembered mine and Clara’s names that helped me to slowly but surely recover asense of self-worth.
Over the six-week course, I felt my bond with Clara grow, and the relief of that was greater than any massage could give me. Massage became part of our routine – not only during the weekly class but also after every bath time. It was our thing and, not to sound too overwrought, it helped our relationship change from terrified person with baby to mummy and daughter.
I took Clara to a baby massage class right up to the end of my maternity leave. She changed so much during that time, and what she got from the classes did too.
In the beginning, it was a place for her and me to bond and enjoy some skin-on-skin contact, but by the time she was four months old she could enjoy watching the other babies and babbling to me. Then we started Claire’s Massage4Moversclass and things got very lively very quickly. There were space blankets. There were parachutes. There were bubbles. There was the kicktastic Grand Old Duke of York leg massage. It was amazing.
It was at baby massage class that Clara first rolled from her back to her front. It was where she first waved. Unfortunately, it was also where she first picked her nose. So many landmarks and firsts – a baby’s first year is full of them, but when we’re so busy keeping on top of everything that comes with being a new mum it can be easy to miss these big steps. Baby massage classes gave me a chance to slow down and actually see how much my daughter was changing and growing up in front of my eyes.
Without a doubt, Clara’s favourite thing about Massage4Movers was the silicone egg poacher Claire put out with the toys. Don’t ask me why, but there was always a scramble among the babies to get their hands on those poachers. An egg poacher used to keep Clara entertained for ages – totally worth the money!
But my favourite thing about baby massage goes a bit deeper (not that it’s hard to get deeper than an egg poacher!). It’s thatI finally learnt that my bond with my baby is about far more than how I feed her. It’s about the journey we’ve set out on together and the experiences we’ll share along the way. The first of these was baby massage but there are so many more to come.
If you’ve just started a massage class with your baby, I hope you get as much from it as Clara and I did.