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Two Dorset nurses have introduced baby massage classes in a bid to promote natural bonding between mums and their new-born child.
The five-week course, provided by Dorset HealthCare, encourages gentle, rhythmic stroking of a baby’s body by the mother, slowly manipulating ankles, wrists and fingers. The soothing strokes stimulate the production of the ‘feel-good’ hormone oxytocin in both parent and child.
Baby massage is proven to develop a child mentally, socially and physically, improve the quality of their sleep and generally make them more relaxed.
The sessions are run by the Trust’s Community Nursery nurses Natalie Jefferies and Joanne Carding at the Rosemary Road Medical Centre in Poole.
Natalie said: “We teach mums a range of techniques to perform on their child, from whole body massage and gentle movement to yoga, touch, eye contact and talking, all of which can improve sensory stimulation and brain development.
“There are also great benefits to mothers, and many often comment on how much more confidence they have carrying out every day parental tasks. This could be as simple as just picking them up, or recognising the needs of their baby.”
Joanne added: “It is incredible to watch babies respond to the techniques that we encourage during each session. They often react by talking, falling asleep and sometimes interacting with each other.”
The baby massage classes are available for all children up to the age of six months, and potential beneficiaries are assessed by a health visitor before being invited onto the course.
Local resident Hayley Colley is half way through the course with her son Ben. She said: “I have noticed a real difference in Ben’s behaviour since we signed up.
“Ben often sleeps when we get home, and I have noticed it has helped his tummy, alleviating constipation and trapped wind.”
Research also suggests baby massage can significantly help mums who may be suffering with post-natal depression, or are at risk of depression, to interact with their child.