The benefits of massage is indisputable today, in addition, massage between parents and babies turns the benefits into something mutual for both parties, it benefits both the person who receives it and the one who provides it.
At birth a bond is created that increases as parents share time and experiences with their babies. Creating a space, an environment and an attitude encourages 'contact', something so important for the creation of the affective bond. The parent-child relationship will therefore benefit from 'attachment' and 'affection'.
Assimilating the birth of a child with Down syndrome or any other ability is often not easy, especially when the diagnosis is unexpected. The first days, and even months, are the hardest for their parents, often appearing the phase of guilt and rejection.
- Teaching parents certain sensory massage techniques and raising awareness to apply them periodically will help them strengthen their relationship and help them bond with their baby from day one through caresses and communication, both verbal and non-verbal. This, without a doubt, is a good start to reestablish the affective bond with our little one.
- The massage and the context in which it is performed will produce multisensory stimulation in the baby. The massage technique applied, the light, the temperature, the music, the posture, the materials used, the voice, the touch, as well as the expression of the parents are factors that stimulate relaxation, motor skills or sensitivity of the baby.
The benefits of a baby with Down's Syndrome They are exactly the same as another baby without the syndrome, therefore, if our baby has constipation, the massage applied to the abdominal area will be applied to facilitate bowel movements, but also, in the case of these babies, when applying Massage techniques Children we will have to take into account the following:
1. We will begin with energetic but gentle movements from the distal to the proximal area of the limbs with a constant or alternating frequency, ending with a very gentle drainage in the limbs. With this we will stimulate circulation and spontaneous mobility of the baby, in addition to muscle tone. Babies with Down syndrome usually have lower than normal muscle tone at birth (hypotonia), flaccidity, and have a tendency to excessive flexibility of the joints
2. We will stretch the facial muscles. We will stretch the forehead, massage the external masticatory muscles and the orbicularis oculi muscles. With this we will be able to stimulate gesticulation, body awareness and facial muscle tone.
3. As a preventive and treatment measure in the initial phases we will perform 'soft clapping' (percussion with hollow palms in an upward direction) and vibration to avoid the accumulation of mucus in babies. This technique helps the baby to expel secretions. In babies with Down syndrome, due to their generalized hypotonia, the intensity of the cough is decreased since the muscles involved in breathing and coughing are also hypotonic.
4. In babies with hypotonia, it is very useful to perform the abdominal technique as a preventive method, facilitating intestinal motility and bowel movements, as well as the accumulation of gases. We have to gently palpate the baby's abdomen to look for gases (which usually accumulate in the left area) and then perform an abdominal massage.
5. We will apply the orofacial technique, promoting the mobility of the tongue, the beginning of chewing and swallowing. To do this, intraoral stimulation will be performed with gentle pressure on the gums and perioral stimulation of the primary reflexes. This technique is intended to achieve a constant and constructive general mobility, reduce discomfort due to teething and stimulate chewing movements early.
It is important that the massage is carried out by the father or mother of the baby to strengthen the emotional bond between parents and baby. We will never do it in a forced way, neither for the baby nor for his parents, since the benefits derived from the massage would not be achieved. If the baby has a fever or bronchitis, it is better to wait to perform these techniques, and if the baby is in full digestion we will also wait. And finally, remember that it is important to consult your pediatrician before starting infant massage to avoid damaging or negatively stimulating the baby.
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