This week saw the launch of the UK’s first ever ‘Maternal Mental Health Week’ to raise awareness for one of the most common occurrences during the maternity period, yet one that is still very much shrouded in stigma; antenatal/postnatal depression. Whilst having a baby is a wonderful and exciting time, it can also be a daunting and scary time too, resulting in a knock-on effect on the mental health of so many parents. ‘Maternal Mental Health Week’ aims to raise the profile of maternal mental health issues, offer support and ultimately let you know, you are not alone.
We are very lucky at Pebbles Childcare, to be able to support new parents in their return to work, whilst ensuring their babies are in a loving home-from-home environment, but we are also keen to recommend Victoria Rose-Carless of Baby Massage Sussex to support new parents in the emotional bonding process with their babies.
Victoria is the only IAIM Certified Infant Massage Instructor for West Sussex and has worked with Children and Family Centre’s, midwives, social services and outreach workers in supporting parents for 10 years.
Here, we speak to Victoria about her classes, the benefits of baby massage and her experiences in supporting parents and families with maternal mental health issues.
As well as being a fun and relaxing skill to acquire, baby massage can help enormously with a range of physical and emotional issues that may be experienced by young babies and/or their parents/carers.
From developing the parent-child bond in those who have had a difficult pregnancy, a traumatic birth or are suffering from post-natal depression, to helping ease common newborn conditions such as colic and constipation,
I have experienced massage changing an unsettled baby to a happy content one, with the added benefit of a much needed confidence boost for their parents.
Baby massage can help with so many things that every parent struggles with. I hope to create a calm, relaxed non-judgemental atmosphere within the group to promote relaxation and confidence building. Everyone who books on to the course worries about their baby crying and upsetting the other babies but i always tell them very early on that every baby in the room will cry, wee, poo and be sick, most of the babies attending the course will be struggling with reflux, colic, wind, constipation and much more- that’s why they are there. I explain that the room is theirs to do with whatever they feel comfortable doing.
I have very young teenage parents who are struggling with coping for a newborn and much older parents who have had successful careers struggling with exactly the same things. It’s very powerful to watch these parents bond together, learning at the same time to cope with another life so dependent on them. I have many parents with additional needs that need time and extra explanation of the massage strokes but when they realise that have perfected it and can see their own babies relax and respond to them it is incredibly moving.
Many parents have lost babies or been very poorly themselves or their babies have had to have fought for their lives to be here. I allow these parents time to talk openly and frankly about their experiences and sometimes it is the first time they have allowed themselves to do that. It is incredibly powerful, humbling and heartbreaking to hear their stories but it then allows them time to work through their emotions and feelings to promote healing and strength. I always signpost those to the midwife counselling service at the hospital or liaise with their workers if I feel they need extra help with that.
Baby massage is SO much more than massaging your baby. It is about bonding and forming a golden thread that will run between you both for the rest of your life, it’s about picking up on your babies cues and learning about each other’s needs. It’s about creating an environment that is relaxed and calm, close and about the basic human need of love and nurturing touch.
You can find out more about Baby Massage Sussex on www.babymassagesussex.com