Knowing your baby is in pain and not knowing how to help is a stressful situation all parents find themselves in at some point. If your baby is suffering from wind pain the good news is, massage can help.
Something important to note upfront is that you should never massage your baby's tummy directly after a feed. All babies are different and unfortunately there is no set amount of time that you need to wait for after a feed. Figuring out what's right for your baby is a case of instinct, trial and error. Although it is unlikely to bother them, your baby will bring up a small portion of the feed (be sick), if you haven't waited long enough to massage their tummy. If this happens, next time you know you need to wait a little longer before providing massage.
Tummy massage can help with wind pain directly by assisting pockets of air to move through the large intestine. Massage will also encourage a release of endorphins in your baby which help to block pain. After receiving a massage, your baby's seratonin levels will increase, helping them drift off to sleep.
To achieve results from massage for wind pain the following items are essential:
- Correct pressure
Stroking too gently over the surface of the skin will not help substances and wind move through the large intestine.
Massage needs to be performed over the large intestine. Massaging too high (i.e. placing any pressure on the babies diaphragm) will result in sensations of nausea and can make it difficult for your baby to breath.
Tummy massage cannot be performed directly after a feed.
It is vital that massage is done in a clock-wise direction. With your baby lying down in front of you, this means you will be massaging from your left to your right.
Infants with wind pain usually have a sudden burst of painful crying, they make faces showing they are in pain (facial grimaces) and they pull their legs in towards their tummy.
The following steps are recommended:
1. Remove any jewellery that might scratch or irritate your baby and ensure your hands are clean and warm.
2. Check room temperature to ensure your baby will not be too hot or too cold during the massage.
3. Check the lighting - make sure your baby doesn't have to cope with any bright ceiling lights shining in their eyes.
4. Try to calm yourself down first. It's important you do your best to relax before getting started.
5. Reassure your baby. Use a calm voice and let him know you are going to try to help.
The words you use are not as important as a calm tone. Even if your baby is upset and doesn't appear to be taking notice, the sound of your voice helps.
6. Calmly talk your way through the massage.
7. Pay attention to your baby throughout the massage and make eye contact if possible.
8. Finish with a cuddle.
Massage often provides fast results for wind pain but your baby won't necessarily calm down during massage - this could take a little bit of time. It is important to finish with a cuddle and try to comfort him.
Asking for help
It's best to work with a qualified Infant Massage Instructor to make sure you're using correct positioning, pressure and technique for wind pain. Certified instructors hold classes for parents, teaching massage techniques to use for wind, colic and constipation. Many also offer private, home-visit appointments.
Free referral service
The Infant Massage Information Service provides a free referral service for parents wanting to locate a certified instructor, trained specifically in baby massage. Simply provide the details of your suburb and postcode via our 'contact us' form to receive the details of certified instructors in your area.
What does an 'infant massage therapist' do?
How do I become a 'baby massage therapist'?