I had heard wonderful things about baby massage classes and the incredible benefits it has on both Mum and baby and so as soon as my baby was old enough (and I felt ready to leave the house and join the real world!) I signed up to the next available course.
As someone who doesn’t really ‘do’ baby groups I was a little apprehensive upon arrival, but was instantly calmed and welcomed by the incredibly warm and friendly instructor Vikki; she showed genuine interest in my baby, me and how we both were and encouraged us to get comfortable and choose an area to massage in.
The room is warm (toasty – don’t layer!), dark and calming which instantly puts you at ease. Other parents and their babies begin to arrive and everyone chats amongst themselves; make yourself as comfortable as possible – all of us ended up with our shoes off for the duration of the class – comfort is key!
A warning to anyone new to baby massage, when Vikki tells you it’s okay to leave your baby asleep for the first bit of the session …… listen! There are various bits of admin and paperwork to sort before you start and so if your baby is happy, content and asleep, let them sleep! (I couldn’t fill my form in until the end of the session because I did not heed this advice!)
Once the admin and welcome etc is underway, you are encouraged to introduce yourself you and your baby and the class gets going.
Don’t feel under pressure to fully strip your baby; some just don’t like it – other’s love it!Whatever you and your baby are comfortable with is more than fine! Some babies were naked from the waist down, some were fully naked and others had just a nappy on.
Vikki is honestly a fantastic instructor; calm, positive, friendly, engaging and goes through everything at a really manageable pace………….. if your child co-operates that is!
At the beginning of the session Vikki ensures she puts everyone at ease that the room is ours to use as we please; to feed, change, walk around, settle our babies etc. In addition to this, she is really reassuring that it is perfectly normal for your baby to cry; they won’t be the first and they won’t be the last.
………And mine was the crier for the first week! I didn’t even get any oil on my hands before she began to cry; unusually set off by other’s whimpering or crying, no matter what I did I could not settle her. We walked around the room, we fed, we burped, we rocked and yet she still would not stop.
It doesn’t feel like it at the time (it is the most mortifying feeling initially) but at some point throughout the course, everyone will be in the same boat. Some babies just take a bit longer to warm up and get used to the process; Vikki is totally understanding and sympathetic and assured me that ‘it will be someone else’s baby next week.’ And lo and behold; it was!
So if, like me, you are absolutely horrified at the idea of being ‘that parent’ with ‘that baby’ that cries all the time or won’t allow you to massage during the sessions; it’s okay. It won’t feel it at the time, but it really is.
The sessions are informal, informative but accommodating; Vikki will help you with ideas and solutions to how best to settle and soothe your baby for the sessions – for us, it’s trialling a morning session as sometimes it’s as simple as your baby just isn’t ready to be massaged between 1 and 230pm on a set afternoon; this is normal.
Also, important to mention, don’t feel under pressure to massage in the class in front of everyone, attend the sessions, learn the strokes and skills and practice at home if that is more comfortable for you and your baby. There truly is no pressure to do anything that you aren’t comfortable with at any point in the course. Vikki is incredibly accommodating and understanding and just encourages you to do what’s best for you and your baby and that really helps to put you both at ease. Sometimes it’s nice just to take time out of your day to hold your baby, learn a new skill and chat to other Mum’s (who invariably will be in the same boat as you at some point!)
So, if your first few classes don’t quite go to plan or how you’d expect and your baby doesn’t immediately take to massage; stick it out and adapt the classes, skills and environment to best meet both of your needs.
Baby Massage not only taught me new skills to practice and develop at home with my baby, but it also taught me invaluable lessons about myself as a parent and my (ridiculously high and un-realistic) expectations of my baby. These lessons have really helped both of us relax, adapt and enjoy each other and the classes a lot more!