Do you enjoy physical touch? Did you find massage useful to relieve aches and pains during pregnancy? Do you crave pampering and healing now that your baby has arrived?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we’re here to give you the scoop.

To put it simply, a postpartum massage is a full body massage that occurs within the first 12 weeks after you give birth to your baby. Keep reading for information on how postpartum massage can benefit you, and what to expect.

While the definition of postpartum massage may not seem like anything special, receiving one can benefit your mood and speed up healing.

Postpartum massages usually include many of the same elements of regular massages. Women who get a massage after giving birth will likely notice numerous benefits to their body and mood that are associated with massage in general.

If you have had a cesarean delivery, talk to both your doctor and massage therapist to be sure it is safe. Some massage therapists will not work on people who have had surgery in the last 6 weeks.

If you’ve had blood clots in your pregnancy or previously, your doctor will likely have already recommended you avoid massage. Check with your doctor when it is safe to resume massage.

Some general benefits of massage include:

  • pain relief
  • stress reduction
  • relaxation

While these are good enough reasons for anyone to want a massage, new mothers in particular may consider massage. Massage offers specific benefits for your health during the fourth trimester.

Benefits of massage for the postpartum mom include:

  • Reduced swelling. Many mothers find that their body swells during labor. Massaging can help to redistribute water within the body and encourage the draining and circulation of excess fluids.
  • Improved milk production. For moms seeking an increase in their breast milk supply, massage can be a great way to increase circulation and the necessary hormones to make this happen, as evidenced in this 2020 study.
  • Hormone regulation. The postpartum body is one of constantly fluctuating hormones. In addition to touch, many massages involve essential oils that may help elevate one’s mood and may encourage hormonal balance.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression. Many new parents experience the “baby blues” or even postpartum depression. Getting a massage can help to decrease stress contributing to these anxious and depressed feelings.
  • Better sleep. Everyone knows new parents need as much sleep as they can get! Massage can help parents relax and get their body ready for deep, restorative sleep.

Uterine massage

After birth, your nurses or midwife most likely performed fundal massage. Fundal massage is a uterine massage technique used by medical professionals to help the uterus contract back down to its usual size.

It is thought that light abdominal massage may continue to be beneficial for up to 2 or 3 weeks after birth, until lochia is clear. But proceed with caution: Uterine massage can be harmful if too much pressure is applied. Be sure to talk to your doctor or medical provider before attempting abdominal massage at home or with a massage therapist.

Abdominal massage is not recommended for 6 weeks after a cesarean delivery.

Healthline

To prepare for a postpartum massage, make your environment relaxing. If the massage is occurring in your home, this may mean lighting candles or diffusing scents, and dimming overhead lighting.

Ideally you’ll arrange for someone else to be in charge of your newborn, so you don’t have to worry whether they’re awake or asleep during your massage. While it’s nice to have your little one close by, baby cries are not the most relaxing sound!

Many different massage approaches are appropriate for a postpartum mom. A postpartum massage might include acupressure and foot reflexology. It can also include a Swedish massage or Jamu massage, a traditional Southeast Asian postpartum massage designed to relax and heal the postpartum body.

Some women prefer a lighter style of massage during the postpartum period while others enjoy deeper techniques, myofascial release or craniosacral therapy.

In addition to physical touch, many postpartum massages include essential oils. These may be included in lotions or massage oils or diffused into the air. Make sure to check with your medical provider before using essential oils to be sure they are safe.

Whatever type of massage style you choose, make sure to ask about your provider’s experience with prenatal and postpartum massage. They should be willing to work with you to find positions during the massage that are comfortable.

You can start postpartum massage as soon as you feel ready. Some hospitals even offer in-hospital postpartum massage services for moms in the days following their birth! A 2016 study found that a back massage one day after delivery significantly reduced anxiety in new mothers.

If you had a C-section or complicated delivery, check with your doctor before getting your first postpartum massage. Certain massage techniques may not be appropriate for your specific recovery.

There is no exact timeline for how frequently you should get postpartum massages. Many new moms enjoy massages every week or two during the first few months after they give birth, but others will only receive one or two massages.

Time, personal finances, and health considerations can all play into your decision about how many postpartum massages you have and how frequently you get them.

We’ve long known that human touch can be powerful, and postpartum massage uses the advantages associated with touch to help women heal following labor.

There are countless benefits of getting a massage after you give birth. They include helping regulate hormones, increasing milk production, and even reducing swelling.

While you may wish to get massaged every week for the first 12 weeks after you give birth, you may also only want one massage. Before beginning your massage therapy routine, be sure to check with your doctor or midwife to ensure your body is healed enough to begin.

How often you get a massage is a personal decision that will be based off finances, time, and personal preference. There is no one right answer. You might also ask your partner to offer you a massage at home!

To find a massage therapist who specializes in postpartum massage, ask for recommendations from your postpartum support team. Your OB-GYN, lactation consultant, doula, or midwife may know of the best professional for the job.

However you decide to include massage in your postpartum healing routine, the benefits will surely help you settle into your new life with your baby.