Baby massage helps moms with depression.
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Baby Massage Can Help Relieve Symptoms Of Postnatal Depression, New Study Finds

It could also improve mother-baby interactions.

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Postpartum depression remains a serious concern for new mothers, and scientists are looking at ways to treat it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever pill for postpartum depression this year, which was a big win for new moms, and the fact that it is openly talked about actually goes a long way. As does baby massage. A new study found that mother-led baby massage can actually help lower moms’ symptoms of postnatal depression, and it certainly sounds like a win-win for both mother and baby.

Orla Geary, Annmarie Grealish, and Ann-Marie Bright from the University of Limerick in Ireland reviewed a total of eight studies, looking at 521 mothers and the effect that mother-led baby massage had on those diagnosed with postnatal depression, which is characterized by strong feelings of sadness, exhaustion, and anxiety in those who have recently given birth.

The study authors, who published their findings in the medical journal PLOS One in December noted that there was a consistent reduction in postnatal depression symptoms in mothers who practiced baby massage vs. those who were simply going through routine postnatal care. The study authors also found that there were improved interactions between mothers and babies who used mother-led baby massage as a tool.

“Infant massage may reduce symptoms of depression, improve maternal sleep quality, reduce anxiety and stress levels, reduce feelings of guilt and improve maternal confidence, satisfaction and attitude towards physical contact with their infant,” the authors wrote in the study. “The promotion of a public health nurse-led intervention such as infant massage may provide a blend of social and professional support which advocates for positive maternal well-being and positive parent-infant interactions.”

Not only is practicing baby massage good for lowering moms’ symptoms of postnatal depression, it’s also great for babies. There are a myriad of possible benefits like assisting babies with cramping, constipation, relieving gas, and potentially even helping promote better sleep in little ones, according to Healthline, although the research on that benefit is purely anecdotal until more research is done.

Both moms and dads should consider trying baby massage as a way to bond with babies as well as reducing postnatal depression, as dads can experience many of the same symptoms after their baby is born. When guided by a medical professional, this new research show it can be a safe and healthy way to bond with your baby and help alleviate some symptoms of postnatal depression.

Studies referenced:

Geary, O., Grealish, A., Bright, A. (2023) The effectiveness of mother-led infant massage on symptoms of maternal postnatal depression: A systematic review. PLOS One.

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