March 17: NCT Baby Café free taster session

March 17: NCT Baby Café free taster session

I will be at the NCT New Oriel Hall Baby Café on Tuesday 17th March at 1.30pm offering free baby massage taster sessions.

Come along and find out more about baby massage, try a few strokes and chat to me about any questions you may have about baby massage. Look forward to seeing you all there!


March 09: Benefits of ‘Skin to Skin’ contact

March 09: Benefits of ‘Skin to Skin’ contact

I recently read a very interesting article about the benefits of skin to skin contact with you and your baby and wanted to share it. Enjoy the read…

7 Health Reasons To Be Skin-To-Skin With Your Baby After Birth  (source Mommypotamus)

Kate Ogg Snuggled Her Prematurely-Born Son to her chest, whispering soothing words over his tiny, 2lb 3 oz frame. Doctors told her that he had died, but something unexpected happened as she prepared to say goodbye. About 5 minutes after Kate drew him close and began talking to him, Jaime moved.

Her doctor told her it was a reflex, and that Jaime was gone. Kate and her husband continued to talk to and stroke him, and a bit later he gasped for air. They sent for the doctor, who refused to come because he believed they were in denial. After two hours of skin-to-skin contact, Jaime opened his eyes.

Kate and her husband sent for the doctor again, this time persuading him to come by saying they believed he had died and just wanted a few things explained. “When I pulled him off my chest he was startled and waved his arms around and tried to cry again, and the doctor goes ‘oh s***’.”

Jamie is now four years old and last time reporters checked in with his family he and his twin sister were developmentally on track.

The practice Jaimie’s mom believes saved his life is called kangaroo care or skin-to-skin, and it has been credited with dropping preemie mortality rates from 70% to 30% in the town where it was first practiced. But kangaroo care isn’t just beneficial for preemies – here are 7 reasons to be skin-to-skin with your baby after birth.

Benefit 1: Skin-to-Skin Keeps Baby Warmer, Regulates Breathing & Keeps Blood Sugar Levels Higher

What can your breasts do better than a $33K machine? Help stabilize your baby’s vitals, of course! Mothers naturally adjust “the warmth of their breasts to keep their infants at the optimal temperature,” says Midwifery Today. “Maternal breast temperature can rise rapidly, then fall off as baby is warmed. As the baby starts to cool, the breasts heat up again—as much as 2 degrees C in two minutes!” (That’s 3.6 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale)

Wait, it gets better. Because their systems are immature, babies sometimes temporarily stop breathing and/or have slowed heart rates. While most of the time the begin breathing again on their own, the cues you provide become the “training wheels” with which their little bodies can learn more quickly to organize essential systems. As you breathe, baby will synchronize their breath and heartbeat to yours.

“Babies and their mothers share a deeply physiological connection. In one study of infant reaction to mothers, fathers, and strangers, an infant girl was brought into a lab and set in a plastic seat that was curtained off from distractions. The baby was then approached by her mother, then her father, and then a stranger.

Chest monitors on the baby and the adults showed that the baby synchronized her heart rate to that of the mother or father when they approached, but she did not synchronize her heart rate to the stranger’s.

The data suggests that babies and their caretakers are entwined in a homeostatic relationship, with the baby clicking in with the parents to achieve some sort of balance.”

Source: Our Babies, Ourselves p.38

Note: This study found that 3-month old babies and their mothers coordinate heart rhythms to be within milliseconds of each other when moms show signs of affection like smiling. Wow!

New-borns have faster heart rates than their mother, so though mama’s presence does help create a more rhythmical pattern, it will be different than yours.

Benefit 2: Enhances Bonding

The hour after birth is sometimes called The Golden Hour, a period in which “both mother and child are best primed to form an intense chemical connection with each other,” writes Patty Onderko, who is a mother of twin boys. The factor at play in The Golden Hour is the hormone oxytocin – aka the “love hormone” – which helps the uterus contract during labour and also plays a critical role in bonding.

Also, a recent study found that a new born baby’s smell is as addictive as drugs or food. Duh! The “scents released by both baby and mother during birth have powerful pheromones that attract the two to each other, as well as allow the baby to ‘sniff out’ her mother’s nipple and instinctively begin to nurse.”

What I love most about Patty’s article is that she wrote it after having a caesarean that resulted in just a brief moment of contact after her boys arrived. She communicates beautifully how no one factor makes or breaks us as mothers, and I could not agree more. This is not to say women who have caesareans cannot practice kangaroo care – they often can!

Benefit 3: Reduced Postpartum Depression

Though there are many factors that affect postpartum depression, new research suggests that skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth may reduce the incidence in moms. The ability to hold, snuggle, warm, smell, kiss, and nurse baby right after birth all stimulate intricate hormonal patterns within the mama that reinforce mothering behaviours and feelings of well-being. If these experiences are lacking, some experts believe that the mother’s body interprets this as something going wrong with the birth. This may induce a stress/grief response that, in some cases, may create feelings of anxiety or depression.

“According to the study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynaecological, and Neonatal Nursing, skin-to-skin contact between the mother and baby may be an alternative therapy for mothers trying to avoid taking medication. The study reveals that new mothers who had six hours of skin-to-skin contact during the first week followed by at least two hours during the next month reported fewer depressive symptoms.

Saliva samples confirmed lower cortisol levels, a marker of stress, than their counterparts. For a baby, skin-to-skin contact helps fulfil the need for human contact and promotes bonding. The touching releases the hormone oxytocin in the mother, which encourages infant/mother attachment and increases the feeling of well-being and relaxation.”

Best of all, this technique is free and has no side effects. “Unlike other interventions to reduce depressive symptoms in the postpartum months, SSC [Skin-to-Skin Care] is easy to use, readily accessible, cost effective, and without adverse effects,” said AWHONN’s Chief Executive Officer Karen Peddicord, PhD, RN. “Therefore, women’s health professionals can encourage their patients to practice mother/infant SSC as in intervention strategy to lessen depressive symptoms and anxiety while improving maternal mood.”

Benefit 4: Baby Cries Less

“A study in the journal Pediatrics reports that skin-to-skin contact for as little as three hours a day can reduce infant crying by 43 percent. This can lead to lower stress levels for a new mother who is otherwise unsure how to calm her crying infant.”

Benefit 5: Better Sleep

“Furthermore, skin-to-skin contact helps infants fall asleep more easily and also sleep for a longer period of time. This allows the new mother to get more rest and reduce stress levels.”

Benefit 6: Better Gut Health & Immunity

Skin-to-skin contact helps baby’s digestive system mature. The contact “stimulates the vagal nerve, causing increased growth in size of the villi in the newborn gut, which provides a larger surface area for the absorption of nutrition.”

There is also “less chance of infection, because babies given kangaroo mother care become colonized with the bacteria on their mother’s own skin. This causes her milk to produce antibodies in response and makes it specifically protective against those bacteria. In other words, it strengthens their immune system. This is by far one of the main kangaroo care benefits in both poor and wealthy countries alike.”

Benefit 7: Breastfeeding

Babies who receive skin-to-skin care are more likely to nurse sooner and longer.

“In a study of 21 babies after a vaginal birth,3 researchers divided them into two groups. One group was laid skin-to-skin on mother’s body, examined briefly, then returned to skin-to-skin contact for two hours.

The other group was shown to the mother, examined, and swaddled with hands free and then returned to mother. The swaddled group showed delayed feeding behaviours, suckled less competently at their first breastfeeding, and established effective breastfeeding later.”

Who Can Do Skin-To-Skin?

“Skin to skin with baby is good for all types of births, assuming your baby is stable, as most full term babies are at birth. Even after a caesarean birth (C-section) mom can hold baby skin to skin or dad if mom is not available. Skin to skin care for preterm babies is also important and many NICUs will direct you in how to use skin to skin care to help stabilize your new baby,” says childbirth educator Robin Weiss.

If you want to be skin-to, be sure to let your practitioners know before you go into labour!



March 06: course images

March 06: course images

It’s always lovely to take a photographic memory of my class which is then sent to the parents to keep – here are some images from a recent class showing week 1 and week 4, amazing how quickly they grow!

Feb 26: Article – the scent of a baby

Feb 26: Article – the scent of a baby

A recent study showed that the scent of a baby can bring out a mum’s caring side: changes in the brain can help mothers rise to the challenge of caring for their child.

The tears and the screaming leave some women wondering how they will ever cope, but a new study suggests that the scent of a baby may be the key to helping them deal with the fraught first few months of motherhood.

Giving birth rewires the female brain so that the odour of an infant fires up the part which keeps people rational, thoughtful and caring for others, it is claimed.

Researchers from Nagasaki University in Japan performed blindfolded sniff tests with 38 women, half of whom had children. Strips of T-shirts, some worn by four-day-old babies, some by men and others not at all, were repeatedly presented randomly and the participants asked in each case whether they could detect a bodily odour.

At the same time, monitors were tracking activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) area of their brains, known as ‘the seat of sober second thought’. When confronted with clothes worn by infants, women with children had an 82 per cent detection rate and underwent significant changes in function in the PFC. Meanwhile, the others had only 68 per cent success and showed virtually no variation in brain activity.

For clothes worn by men, the results were near-identical for both sets of women in detection rate (77 per cent versus 74 per cent) and PFC changes were similar too.

The study – published in the journal Chemical Senses – states: ‘In humans, therefore, it is possible that the female brain is moulded when women become mothers.

‘This possibility was also supported by a recent neuroimaging study, which reported that the first months of motherhood are accompanied by structural changes in brain regions including the PFC.

‘Taken together, our finding suggests that the response of the PFC toward infant odours is changed when women become mothers.This could be important for mothers caring and fulfilling the unique demands of their children We propose that infant odours enhance mothers’ willingness to approach their infants, which then serves as an intrinsic reward.’

Health psychologist, Dr Cynthia McVey, of Glasgow Caledonian University said: ‘It’s fascinating that this reaction is being seen in the prefrontal cortex because it’s the part of the brain which governs rational thought. Motherhood, especially in the first weeks of a first birth, is extremely stressful and women find it very difficult to deal with the challenges. So it seems that the smell of an infant works as a natural stimulant to increase the woman’s ability to cope. Of course, this would be most effective when the baby is being held close to when, for example, it may be in distress and crying, which is a situation mothers do find extremely hard to deal with at times. It’s also interesting that the women in the study were not new mothers so this effect appears to be long-lasting. As a grandmother myself, I cannot explain why the smell on the back of a baby’s neck is so heady – it’s the funniest thing.’
To read more on this fascinating study click here.

Feb 21: For the Dads! Read my article on Bath Mums about the benefits for baby massage for dads.

Feb 21: For the Dads! Read my article on Bath Mums about the benefits for baby massage for dads.

Excerpt below…

A couple of years ago a same sex male couple who had adopted a baby contacted me about baby massage classes. This chance encounter gave me a idea.

Baby massage had been recommended to them by their health worker and they wanted to give it a try, so we did a few sessions together which they found useful and supportive for their new family unit.

Prior to this my classes were only appealing to local mums, probably because most dads are out at work in the day time and mums are on maternity leave, or are stay at home parents. The feedback from the same sex couple was so positive that I decided to add on a 6th session to my course that would be for dads only. At the time no-one else was offering this in the area and it became really popular.

A year on, and around 100+ dads later, the sessions are going really well. Most men naturally have concerns before coming to the group and some are unsure why they are even there. For mums it has the added benefit of a morning of free time but for the dads, the main benefits are bonding and learning a new skill.

Many dads only get to see their little one in the evening and often only get home in time for bath and bed time. Learning how to give them some massage is a beautiful way to interact and get to know them and have skin to skin contact. It may only be for 10 minutes or so but the benefits are bountiful…

If there are any dads or indeed mums who’d like to find out more about the baby massage courses I run in Bath please contact me.

Feb 09: No bake treats

Feb 09: No bake treats

This week I’m experimenting with ‘no bake’ recipes. These date and cocoa bars are fresh out of the fridge ready for tomorrow’s class. No need to watch the the waistline with these, they are mega healthy!


Feb 04: ‘Reflexology’ for babies

Feb 04: ‘Reflexology’ for babies

Had fun teaching the ‘Reflexology’ part of my Baby Massage course yesterday. Interesting how reflex points found on the feet and hands correspond to specific organs, muscles, bones and body systems. and by applying gentle pressure to congested areas in the feet, blockages can be released to restore the flow of energy to the whole body. It certainly worked on the digestive points, an active class!!

Feb 02: How to Help Infants Learn and Remember

Feb 02: How to Help Infants Learn and Remember

A nap after learning helps a baby consolidate its learning and memories, a new study finds. The study suggests that a flexible napping schedule could help infants learn. Dr. Jane Herbert, one of the study’s authors, said, “These findings are particularly interesting to both parents and educationalists because they suggest that the optimal time for infants to learn new information is just before they have a sleep. Until now, people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide awake, rather than when they are starting to feel sleepy, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered.”

The study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved showing over 200 infants between six and twelve months old how to remove a mitten from a puppet. They were tested on their newly learned skill 4 hours later and after 24 hours.

Some of the infants napped within four hours of learning while others did not. The results showed that only infants who napped for at least 30 minutes within four hours of learning could remember how to remove the puppet’s mitten. Babies that did not nap within four hours could not remember.

“Parents receive lots of advice about what they should and shouldn’t do with their baby’s sleep schedule. The study, however, examined learning opportunities around naturally occurring naps and shows just how valuable activities like reading books with young children just before they go down to sleep can be,” Dr. Jane Herbert continued.

The researchers conclude: “Until now people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide awake, rather than when they are starting to feel sleepy, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered.”

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