Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the people are struggling for basic survival. Because of the stress, parents are less responsive to their babies. This is causing both physical and emotional problems for the babies, to the point some babies are struggling to survive.
CEMEA, a Haiti Education Association, and Naturopaths Without Borders have asked JoAnn Lewis and Jody Wright, Infant Massage USA Trainers, and Vonda Jump (Trainer Candidate and Researcher) to provide two Infant Massage Trainings in Haiti. During these two trainings 60 health and social service workers will be trained and become Certified Infant Massage Instructors.
Once trained and certified, these workers will take infant massage back to their towns and villages in the 10 regions of Haiti with the goal of teaching infant massage to thousands of parents.
There are currently two Certified Infant Massage Instructors (CIMIs) working in Haiti. In the photo to the left, Valerie Noisette, CIMI, who works with CEMEA, hosted an infant massage class. Many more parents arrived for the classes than could participate. Parents are showing a great interest in attending classes. What is needed are more CIMIs to teach families.
In the photo to the right, mothers and babies watched who were unable to participate in the Infant Massage Class.
WE NEED YOUR HELP to make the ‘Save Haiti’s Babies Through Infant Massage Trainings’ program happen during the first weeks of March 2014.
Please give generously. Your gift is TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
You can donate online at our fundraising page on Indiegogo by clicking on the link below.
Or you can pay by check:
Please make your check payable to Infant Massage USA®
Infant Massage USA
34760 Center Ridge Rd #39006, North Ridgeville, OH 44039
Your gift will live on through the people of Haiti who will continue to educate and support families.
One of my new CEIMs, Lisa Steffian, wrote me from Spain: My position as the New Parent Support Program Specialist at a base in Europe allowed me excellent access to all expectant parents served at our base hospital. I collaborated with a variety of early childhood educators, health professionals, and specialists to promote my class via flyers during other parenting workshops offered on the base. I conducted a monthly radio show on our local Armed Forces Network station. During this time, I was able to discuss the benefits of infant massage and to market my classes. I published my class flyer in our local base newspaper, the Coastline on a bi-monthly basis. I had a booth at two of our Healthy Families Fairs where I was able to distribute flyers advertising my classes and to hand out articles outlining the benefits of infant massage. I received web articles from the newsletter which I printed and shared with my students.
I tried to start the class with some humor to loosen everyone up. Once we really started engaging as a class and I noticed the impact of massage on the parents and babies, I felt very emotional at times. I saw dads that I thought of as tough guys really connect with their new babies. I witnessed the power and intimacy created between couples who came to class and learned how to massage together. I became motivated to share this skill with non-traditional students, like dads who are in combat or deploy frequently.
I would like to advertise my infant massage classes to first-time active duty military fathers. An opportune time to do this would be during the “Daddy Bootcamp” classes they have at our local Naval base. These classes are for men only, typically very down to earth, and not overly “touchy feel” like some of the mom’s groups I attend. I would try to keep my pitch to learn infant massage light and use a sense of humor, but also make it factually based. During all “Daddy Bootcamp” classes there is a section about the “Period of Purple Crying” (when newborn is about 4-8 weeks of age) when crying typically peaks and may seem inconsolable. During this section, I would recommend infant massage as a key strategy to help out during this stressful period at home.
One of the things that military dads worry about is how deployment will affect their family. I suggest that doing infant massage is one way to stay connected and to reconnect with your newborn before and after deployment.
Being an instructor in Infant Massage has enriched my life in many ways, most importantly it has gotten me back in touch with young parents.]]>
The acronym PURPLE is used to describe specific characteristics of an infant’s crying, a developmental stage that will pass. New parents receive tiny purple hats to raise awareness for the PURPLE crying program. “A baby can never die from crying, but they can die from being shaken,” says Stephen Scott, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa.
Infant massage can help address each of the tips laid out in the PURPLE crying program:
P — Peak of crying: Your newborn may cry more each week; the most at two months, then less at four to five months. Infant Massage: Your newborn is not fully developed at birth and has a very sensitive digestive and respiratory system. Being in a new environment, with food given in a completely new way is stressful, and this new way of digesting can be painful. Parents can relax themselves, warm the atmosphere, and gently massage the baby’s tummy (using the clockwise strokes given in Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents), then provide rhythmic comfort. It is okay for you to step away if you can’t handle the crying; let your baby know you are there, swaddle baby for comfort, and allow him/her to cry until you are calm enough to provide relaxing care.
U — Unexpected: Your newborn may cry more each week; the most at two months, then less at four to five months. Infant Massage: If you are able to massage your baby, this crying period may be considerably less in duration or not at all. The baby needs help in getting his/her digestive system “up to speed” and then there will be little or no crying.
R — Resists soothing: Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you do. Infant Massage: If your baby doesn’t respond to massaging the tummy area and rhythmic soothing, he/she may carry stress from the birth experience, and may need to cry, as crying is the only means of communication he/she has. After you calm yourself, stay with your crying baby, using swaddling, rhythmic soothing such as rocking or walking and patting his/her back rhythmically. When possible, introduce massage, starting with the legs and moving to the tummy, gently and rhythmically stroking with a light natural oil; sing or talk to your baby and make eye contact when you can.
P — Pain-like face: A crying baby may look like he’s in pain, even though he’s not. Infant Massage: If a crying baby looks like he’s in pain, he probably is. Massage the legs and tummy every day using the strokes suggested in Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents. Of course, first step away and calm yourself.
L — Long lasting: Crying can last as much as five hours a day or more. Infant Massage: When massage is delivered properly and daily, it is unusual for crying to last more than a couple of hours a day. Regardless, remember that crying is your baby’s only way to “talk,” and if necessary step away and relax yourself. Crying is okay.
E — Evening: Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening. Infant Massage: If you can massage the baby in the early afternoon, it will help the baby release built-up tension and thus the need to cry in the evening (the “five o’clock fussies”).
By Vimala McClure
Contact: Maggie Reardon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Venue: Erikson Institute
Address: 451 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL, United States Map
Cost: $325 before Oct. 10, $350 after
The Erikson Institute’s Fussy Baby Network® and Infant Massage USA® are partnering to offer a one-of-a-kind, two-day, advanced training continuing education workshop for Certified Educators of Infant Massage (CEIMs).
Participants will learn the Fussy Baby Network’s FAN approach to parent engagement. The FAN approach offers professionals a framework to guide interactions with parents, particularly when parents have an urgent concern about their baby and/or are experiencing high levels of stress.
CEIMs will gain skills to support parents in their Infant Massage classes who are experiencing early regulation issues such as excessive crying, disrupted sleep, feeding issues or general fussiness. Training in the FAN approach guides professionals to understand what might be most helpful to parents in the moment, and how to respond in a way that matches their baby’s needs. Additionally, this advanced training will provide Infant Massage Educators with more insight into infant regulation based on Heidi Als’ Synactive Theory of Development.]]>
Of the 72 papers identified, 19 were randomized controlled trials, 16 were quasi-experimental studies, and 37 were non-intervention studies. The abstract noted that being taught behavioral assessment scales, breastfeeding, kangaroo care, and baby massage, all helped the parents feel supported. In addition, infant massage reduces hospital stay and occurrence of sepsis (toxic spread of bacteria) in very preterm infants.
For several years I was fortunate to work with a pediatric practice in Denver, Colorado, USA. The pediatricians would refer parents to me when they had premature infants or infants with colic. When I was working with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I would meet the parent(s) at the hospital and spend a few minutes introducing myself and explaining what we would be doing. I would have written information for them to take home, and would answer any questions they had before we started.
For infant massage Instructors, it is helpful to introduce themselves and some materials about infant massage for preterm babies, offering their services in teaching parents how to massage a premature infant. Often the NICU staff haven’t heard of the differences we apply in these cases, and so turn down massage as being too stressful for the babies. Once they understand what you are doing and you have presented materials to them such as studies of preterm infants and massage, you can provide them with materials that they can give to parents as referrals with your information on them.
We have information in our Instructor Handbook on how to go about setting up a session or group of sessions for a premature baby and parent. Usually, we start by simply relaxing ourselves, then cupping the baby’s back or front (whichever presents) with closed hands together. We call this “Resting Hands,” and though it looks very simple, it is a powerful way to connect skin-to-skin, letting your deep relaxation move through your hands to the baby. Then you can add gentle stroking of the legs and feet. The massage continues, with variations considering the baby’s state. We suggest parents or caregivers go very slowly, with Resting Hands beginning each session, very gentle and slow stroking, and a keen awareness of the baby’s cues as they continue.
By Vimala McClure
“What we found,” says Lorber, “is that babies who are only a couple of weeks old can pick up on parents’ bad behavior.” “Parenting during infancy really seemed to matter.”
267 mothers were studied, looking at interaction with their babies during feeding times. Mothers who showed disgust in their facial expressions, spoke in harsh tones, or handled their babies roughly had children who acted out years later in kindergarten and first grade.
This study is part of a 30-year research project. Scientists also found negative reactions continued into adulthood; children who experienced negative parenting in infancy have a higher risk of entering the criminal justice system later in life.
Parents need to realize how much their behavior has an impact on their babies from birth. I believe scientists are going to be finding that this cycle happens even earlier; as technology develops, we’ll find substantial research to show that parents’ negative behavior affects infants in utero.
Infant massage can help alleviate these problems if parents are encouraged to massage their little ones early in life. It sets a pattern of loving, playful interaction and can help parents to see how large an impact their behavior has on their children.
By Vimala McClure
When I took my babies in for procedures such as immunization, I used infant massage as a way to mitigate the scariness and pain of the procedure, and it was well received and helped immensely. I would massage the area to be “pricked” for several minutes, increasing blood flow to that area, then move the massage to an all-over regular massage, which would make my baby feel calm and relaxed. Then I would hold him, and continue rubbing whatever area I could (explaining my plan to the doctor) while the procedure was done. My baby would have very little reaction to the procedure, except to want to be nursed afterward.
I hope at some point this could be a subject for researching; not all mothers breastfeed their babies, especially after six months. But infant massage can go on for a year or more. The researchers that conducted this study found that babies who could breastfeed during the procedure had significantly lower behavioral pain scores. Time taken for the procedure was significantly shorter, making blood collection more efficient.
“Finding creative ways to apply breastfeeding for pain mitigation in premature infants is important, because recent research suggests that sweetening agents used to reduce minor procedural pain may act as sedatives rather than analgesics, and they may have negative effects on development,” says Professor Holsti. “Our findings support further research on the effects of breastfeeding over repeated events to assess both the short- and long-term benefits of the treatment.”
Infant massage, as well, should be researched as a way to reduce minor procedural pain.
By Vimala McClure
According to the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, infants are especially susceptible to hearing damage from loud noises because their skulls are thinner, not fully developed. Noises that can harm a baby include sounds from loud toys like cap guns, speaking dolls, cars with sirens, musical instruments, and the loud noises of concerts. Some toys can inflict as much as 120 decibels of exposure, which is equivalent to hearing a jet plane take off, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Parents can take precautions such as buying noise-canceling headphones when going to places that could be loud, such as movie theaters, public festivals and concerts. My suggestion is to keep an infant sheltered from the loud, fast-paced world for at least six months to a year. Rudolf Steiner, of the Waldorf School movement, says that infants should be kept as closely to the womb-like environment as possible. He suggest hanging soft-colored sheer cloth around baby’s crib, keeping baby close to mother as long as possible, have family members agree to approach a newborn with great care — gently holding and carrying, speaking softly, guarding this new precious being, slowing introducing him/her to the world outside. I agree. The idea is to strive to make the baby’s environment as womb-like as possible; after all, our babies are not fully grown when they are born. It takes another nine months before he/she is ready for the stimulus of busy, stress-inducing life outside the womb.
by Vimala McClure
Recently, studies have shown that children whose mothers were overly stressed during pregnancy are themselves more vulnerable to anxiety as a result. “High levels of stress hormones may cross the placenta and affect the baby in the womb in a way that carries long-term implications,” UK scientists believe. “Several human studies of children and adults suggest that elevated levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone) are associated with psychological risk, notably depression and anxiety. Our findings point to a possible mechanism by which pre- and postnatal stress or anxiety may predict these disturbances in their babies’ early adolescence, and possibly into adulthood.”
Recent studies of rhesus monkeys showed they grew up anxious and antisocial after the stress of separation from their mothers. These studies were unique in showing that the negative effects of separation in infancy cannot be reversed by a later normal social life. Dr. Andrea Danese of King’s College London, said, “If you take studies in humans who have experienced loss I think the findings are quite consistent. Children who are separated from parents tend to show more anxious behavior, they have poorer social skills and more aggressive behavior. Adults with a history of childhood maltreatment have elevated inflammation levels. Inflammation is one of the key factors that contribute to a number of conditions including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.”
Relaxing and slowing down are not just “nice” suggestions. Scientists conducting these studies say that new mothers need to learn to relax and take life more slowly. They suggest that antenatal classes could help new mothers. Partners can also help. Criticizing his partner for not slowing down is not helpful. Asking if he can do tasks she usually does to help lighten her load is helpful. To truly be with children of any age, we all must have the ability to slow ourselves down and relax into the present moment, because that is where our children live.
by Vimala McClure
Before I had my children, I was a yoga practitioner and teacher. When I had my first baby, I assumed my life would go on as before. I had meditated 6 hours a day since I was 20 (1972), and in 1976 I had my first baby. I was in for a rude awakening, when my baby required all of my time and energy, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I missed my meditation time, and missed the solitary quiet of my practice. However, I refused to accept that I could no longer meditate. I knew my new life required that I change.
There is a practice in yoga called “madhuvidya” or “sweet knowledge,” and I turned to this. It means you can find everything as an expression of the Infinite, and make your everyday life a meditation. The experience I described above made me see that my baby was an expression of meditation. Spending spiritual time with him was just as enlightening and uplifting, if not more, than my long hours of concentrating alone with my eyes closed had been. Those long hours helped me as a new mother, when I needed focused concentration and patience.
Our daily massage was another opportunity to meditate with my baby. After we had resolved the colic issue, he loved being massaged, and gazed, smiling, into my eyes for much of the massage. Afterward I felt as if I had been sitting in the lap of the Divine.
by Vimala McClure