It always makes me smile to have Fathers attend Baby Massage class. Massage is a beautiful way for anybody that has a close relationship to the baby to bond, enjoy quality one to one time and positive nurturing touch together. A quick Google often informs new parents of the ways that Fathers can bond with their babies; bathing, changing nappies, skin to skin, baby wearing and of course, massage.
What's love got to do with it?
In short - everything.
Now, if you've recently become a parent, chances are you've heard all about Oxytocin. Also known as the love hormone, the calming hormone, the bonding hormone.
Yes, there are huge peaks of Oxytocin when women give birth and breastfeed, but good news Dads! There is also a delightful increase in Oxytocin for both parent and baby through nurturing touch and skin to skin contact with your baby.
Let's take a look at the hormone Prolactin. One of the many roles of Prolactin is to promote caregiving behaviour and, over time, this hormone reorganises the brain to favour these behaviours. A Father's prolactin levels are already beginning to elevate during mother's pregnancy, but most of the rise in the male occurs after many days of living with their new-born. There is also an increase in Prolactin through nurturing touch.
The main elements of bonding include the following; eye contact, smell, response, communication, skin to skin, voice, hormones and touch. Let's take a moment to visualise our infant ready for their massage. They are close enough to maintain eye contact, perhaps nestled on their Father's lap or lying close by. Baby is able to recognise the familiar smell and sight of their Father.
This communication continues through massage and they both enjoy nurturing touch and the release of relaxing and 'feel good' hormones such as oxytocin, prolactin, dopamine and serotonin.
Just like that, through the intimate art of baby massage how many of the main elements of bonding have been met? Eye contact, smell, response, communication, skin to skin, voice, hormones and touch.
Consider too the quality one to one time, the increase in confidence and self esteem as a parent as we learn to understand our baby's language and respond accordingly. These bonding elements help us to promote secure attachments with our children.
I've used Fathers as an example in this post but the benefits of baby massage can be enjoyed by anybody you wish to have a close connection with the baby. Consider this carefully due to the deep emotional bonds experienced through nurturing touch. Be assured that you, the parent, are the expert of your baby and that Infant Massage can enhance your connection.
"My wife showed me some of the strokes that she had been learning in her baby massage class and the concept of permission and respect. I was a little apprehensive at first but watching my baby respond so positively to the massage, and to me, gave me so much confidence. Life is busy, getting home from work and being able to enjoy this special time together and bond through massage was important to me. I think we both looked forward to our evening massage." Dominic (pictured)
In IAIM classes, we teach families. Fathers are most welcome, and actively encouraged!