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Massage and Premature Babies
Friday June 15, 2012
Born weeks earlier than their due date, premature babies cannot stabilize their own body temperature and are placed into warming incubators. Unable to nurse or hold baby, the first thing mum wants to do is feed her fingers through incubator holes and lightly stroke her baby’s body.
Unfortunately changes in vital signs show that this feathery stroking is over stimulating, however a positive link has been found between appropriate massage and improved mental development, weight gain, and lowered stress levels of premmie babies.
A recent US study found that premmie babies who were massaged for several days gained a staggering 53% greater daily weight compared to unmassaged babies; and were discharged earlier from the hospital.
Premmie massage is also routinely used in Philippine hospitals to reduce stress associated with the heel-prick procedure used to draw blood for testing. And the benefits aren’t limited just to baby. Mums who regularly touch and massage their babies whilst they are in an incubator, also recover faster from labour and birth.
Massaging the Premmie Baby
When massaging a premmie, it’s important to ease into a massage technique under the guidance of a professional, such as a Remedial Massage therapist, nurse, or instructor trained specifically in premmie massage. Generally a 3-phase approach is used:
- Containment – where baby’s hands and legs are drawn close to his body to emulate amniotic conditions
- Kangaroo care – where parents hold baby skin to skin on their chest underneath a blanket
- Massage – on the arms, legs and tummy only
About the Author: Antonette Golikidis is the creator of Little Innoscents and qualified in Health Science, Remedial Massage Therapy and Aromatherapy. While the greatest effort has gone into ensuring the information on this page is valid if you are concerned about the health of your child please visit your healthcare professional.
Antonette Golikidis - Founder of Little Innoscents
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