Working in a hospital can be very insightful. Personally, I don't think I have ever seen anything more heart shattering than a newborn suffering from withdraws. The tremors, the screams, and the undeniable pain always left me in tears and wondering what would be the long term effects of this kind of start. A newborn needs to be nurtured and loved during this transition into our often cold and harsh world. A baby withdrawing from drugs cannot tolerate light, sound, or human touch due to their hypersensitive sensory system. As a Massage Therapist, it makes total sense that massage therapy would be beneficial to help them recover once they get to the point they could handle it.
I found a school in New Mexico whose focus is babies with special needs. The training was intense and the benefits proved to be much more than I ever imagined, for both the baby and the caregiver. Healthcare in New Mexico recognizes the value of Infant Massage, and it is often recommended by the health care professionals in many situations. I was confident that if I could learn how to individualize an approach for special needs - it would make the "Well" babies seem easy. It was all so exciting, but I didn't realize how foreign the concept of infant massage would seem to others once I got home.
Right away I started seeking volunteers to serve as case studies for my certification process. I am constantly amazed by the transformations I see with every session and every Mama/Daddy - Baby team I have worked with. For babies that do not present any issues, massage proves to be "quality time". The connections that take place between Moms and/or Dads with baby, is so heartwarming. It is an incredible bonding tool that helps baby learn to relax, while helping the development of the nervous system, the digestive system, circulation, muscle tone, and is noted to help with brain development as well. The single, most obvious "issue" I have seen the most - has been digestive. Several babies diagnosed with acid reflux, unable to pass gas, hold down food, or have regular bowel movements.
So far, each one has had almost immediate relief. There was one we had to work with a little more slowly because she was so distressed. But every Mom reported back that baby passed gas or had a bowel movement after each massage, and baby was able to thrive with the situation diffused.
Studies have been conducted in hospital NICU's with preemies, and the results have been documented showing greater weight gains and shorter hospital stays with babies who were massaged during their stay.
As a Massage Therapist, I AM qualified to massage babies. However, with the trust and bonding that is inevitable - I would much rather teach parents and/or caregivers to do it. The baby will then have the benefit of more frequent massages on an ongoing basis, and parents are empowered with tools to comfort and enhance the development of their little ones. Once learned, the rest of the children in the family and future babies will benefit as well.
Changing the world, one baby at a time........
Please note, the baby pictured did not suffer withdraws, but she was a preemie with acid reflux <3