Postnatal massage in Singapore: The comprehensive guide

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To do or not to do? Many Singaporean first-time mums are keen, but in two minds when it comes to postnatal massage. Women's Natural Reproductive Health expert Salwa Salim shares all that you need to know about postnatal massage.

The very mention of postnatal massage, complete with lemongrass oil and muslin-cloth tummy wraps might have once sounded like something right out of an ancient Malay Folk tale.

Today, postnatal massage is prevalent in Singapore and other parts of Asia. In fact, the benefits of postnatal massage have become so widely known that the massage is fast gaining popularity in other parts of the world. So what exactly is this postnatal massage?

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Lemongrass oil that is traditionally used in postnatal massage acts as an antidepressant and has a range of healing and antiseptic properties.

Postnatal massage originates from the Malay Archipelago and is actively practiced by the Malay community in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It differs from regular massage as it is specifically designed to take the physiology of women who have just completed a full course of pregnancy and delivered a baby into consideration.

As such, the massage has varying degrees of pressure exerted and different focus points from a regular massage. An important aspect of post-natal massage would be Sengkak (uterus massage). This is known to be highly beneficial for women’s reproductive health.

In case you’re wondering, none of this was designed or put into place by medical experts. Postnatal massage is based on generations of trial and error, practice and constant improvisation. And mums who have tried it swear by it!

Benefits

Salwa Salim, Mummy’s Clinic (80 Changi Rd, Centropod @Changi, #02-63), stresses that postnatal massage is one of the most important aspects of postnatal care.

“After the massive changes and trauma that you put your body through during the nine months of pregnancy, your body definitely deserves proper treatment. Postnatal massage aids in helping the new mother to recuperate, recover and return to the state of optimal health” she explains.

Postnatal massage offers a wide range of benefits that will definitely treat your body well. The benefits fall under the following categories.

Health Benefits

Postnatal massage in Singapore (and in any other place!) lowers blood pressure and improves blood circulation. In doing so, it increases oxygen supply and aids in eliminating toxins from the muscles and fats.

Improved blood circulation also cures headaches, reduces the occurrence of migraines and improves sleep quality.

During labour (natural delivery), the blood vessels and muscles in a woman’s body expand tremendously. This affects the entire body and causes knots (build-up of lactic acid, commonly referred to as angin, in Malay) to form in the muscles.

Postnatal massage in Singapore is especially effective in ridding the body of these knots and helping the muscles release tension. This happens when weak and tired muscles are stretched during the massage session.

Your body will feel reenergised, you regain strength and improve your flexibility.

Sengkak (uterus massage) aids in reinstating your uterus to its original position as pregnancy and labour causes it to gravitate south.

This is especially important for if you do not take good care of your uterus after delivering, it may cause incontinence or even uterine prolapse (when the uterus sags or slips from its normal position and into the vagina) later in life.

Pain Management

Postnatal massage in Singapore provides relief from the infamous back pain that many women complain of during and after pregnancy. It reduces the need for painkillers by up to 36%.

The traditional tummy wrap done at the end of each postnatal massage session improves your body posture. In doing so, it releases restriction in joints and muscles and reduces the likeliness of spasms and cramps from occurring.

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Postnatal massage in Singapore helps alleviate the backaches that women commonly encounter after giving birth.

Mental Wellness

Postnatal massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol by up to 50%, and in doing so helps in preventing or combating postnatal depression.

Salwa explains how postnatal massage is widely practised in Malaysia which also happens to have the lowest postnatal depression rate in the world. The World Health Organisation has acknowledged postnatal massage to be one of the factors for this.

An added benefit of postnatal massage is that it ensures new mums get some me time away from the mayhem of a newborn!

Aesthetic Benefits

A huge factor for postnatal depression is the unavoidable weight gain that occurs during and after pregnancy.

Many first time mums expect to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy state soon after having a baby and are in for a rude shock when they realise this isn’t necessarily the case. They are often uncomfortable with their post-baby body.

Salwa describes how the slimming wrap at the end of each session, which works somewhat like the corset worn during the Victorian era, helps the stomach to appear flatter. This immediately makes women feel better about their appearance. Postnatal massage aids in contouring your body by toning overstretched areas.

These days, many packages for postnatal massage in Singapore, such as those offered by Mummy’s Massage, infuse a bit of slimming massage into the postnatal massage. Slimming massages are traditionally not part of postnatal massages but many therapists choose to include this in their services.

Precautionary Measures and How Long to Wait

“Postnatal massage is generally considered safe and it has been done for decades,” assures Salwa. There are however, a few things to take note of:

  • Waiting it out. While many women are enthusiastic to start the massage and get back in shape as soon as they deliver, doctors generally recommend waiting a minimum of four to seven days after delivery (vaginal birth) to ensure that there are no complications following labour.
  • C-section cases. It is best to wait for your six-week postnatal checkup and get the green light from your gynaecologist before proceeding with the full postnatal massage. If the massage is done earlier, it is best to wait at least three weeks, and sengkak (uterus massage) should not be performed.
  • Allergies. If you have any allergies (nuts, fruits, vegetables, essential oils, creams etc.), aversion to a particular type of oil, or have sensitive skin, it is best to alert your therapist before-hand. They can then work around the situation to make the session as comfortable and beneficial as possible.
  • Discomfort. Postnatal massage is supposed to make you feel relaxed. If at any point in time you feel unnatural discomfort or pain, it is crucial for you to stop the massage or remove the slimming wrap immediately. If the situation persists or escalates, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How to Prepare for a Massage in Singapore

Mama Gie, Senior Massage Therapist from Mummy’s Massage, advises that you make the following preparations in order for you to have a pleasant and enjoyable experience during your postnatal massage session.

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Postnatal massage in Singapore is best done on the floor or on a thin and firm mattress.

  • Privacy. Choose an appropriate area in your home that ensures your privacy for the full duration of the massage session. You also might want to consider having someone around to attend to your baby or older kids while you relax and take your mind off everything. The last thing you want is for your kids to be screaming to be let in or worse, for someone to walk in on you during the massage session!
  • What you need. Postnatal massage is best done on the floor. During the massage your therapist will need to exert pressure and even sit on you at times. So a bed is definitely not a good idea. Place a thin and firm mattress on the floor, along with a large towel to be used as a sheet. Your postnatal massage therapist will take care of the rest.
  • Breastfeeding. Postnatal massage includes massaging your breasts and unclogging of milk ducts so it is highly advisable for you to either feed your baby or have your milk pumped out prior to the massage session. You also need to be away from your baby during the massage so having their tummy filled before hand would work for both of you.
  • Shower. Depending on your confinement practices, a shower may or may not be feasible but either way, you would want to freshen up in whatever possible manner. This is mainly because after the massage, you will put on a slimming wrap which has to be left on for at least six hours.

What to Expect During Your Postnatal Massage in Singapore

Salwa provides a brief description of what typically happens during a postnatal massage session.

  • Consultation. Prior to beginning massage, the therapist will check your medical history and if you have any allergies. This is to ensure that they do not use a product that might trigger an adverse reaction. They will ask you to show them if you feel tension, pain or cramps in any specific part of your body so that they can focus on the specified areas to relieve the pain.
  • Full one hour body massage. Your postnatal massage therapist will provide you with a full body massage service beginning with your feet and ending with a head massage. Your breasts will be massaged and this can help to unclog your milk ducts and improve milk supply. For those who are able to do so, the sengkak (uterus massage) will be done.
  • Application of products. During the massage, your therapist will use some form of oil. Traditionally, Serai (lemongrass) oil is a preferred choice due to the myriad of benefits it offers. For modern Singaporean mums who find lemongrass oil a tad bit overwhelming, or are intolerant to its heat, just inform your therapist and you can have olive oil instead. Some therapists may use cellulite cream as well.
  • Bengkung. Also known as a slimming wrap, this is typically six to 10 metres of muslin cloth that is wrapped around your tummy and hips. On top of making the tummy flatter, the firm and steady material also aids in maintaining your posture. Posture is important for your overall recovery especially if you are breastfeeding. Do take note that some women encounter heat rash when putting on the slimming wrap.
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Bengkung – six to 10 meters of Muslin cloth used as a slimming wrap. Photo credit: Salwa Salim, Mummy’s Massage

How Long Should Postnatal Massage be Done

There is no hard and fast rule for how long postnatal massage in Singapore should be done. But in Singapore and Malaysia, it is done for up to 30 days.

Salwa mentions that postnatal massage is usually done for a minimum of seven to 10 days. Mums who like the extra pampering have no qualms to extend though.

Kavitha Desai, Head of Aesthetics in Bukit Batok Secondary School, delivered her baby boy via c-section. She was unsure about postnatal massage but decided to give it a try as her mother recommended it.

She commented, “I was initially apprehensive but that was because of the c-section. But it felt so good after the first massage. So much so that I requested for 10 extra days”.

Other Types of Postnatal Massage in Singapore

Jamu Massage

Jamu massage is a form of therapy comprising a unique blend of traditional medical practices of the Chinese, Europeans and Indians. It integrates the use of local medicinal herbs with a range of techniques such as acupressure, aromatherapy and massage therapy.

Using a combination of long strokes, rolling motions and fast drumming movements, Jamu massage aims to stimulate the body and increase blood circulation.

The herbal oils used in Jamu massage effectively cure a range of ailments and aids in rejuvenating the body. Jamu massage can be done before, during and after pregnancy.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Postnatal Massage

The Chinese believe that when women give birth, there is a great amount of blood loss and dysfunction of various channels in their body that may result in various illnesses later in life.
 
In TCM postnatal therapy, the state of the woman is assessed and accordingly treated through  a combination of massage, herbal medicine and lifestyle management that is believed to put them on the road to recovery both physically and mentally.
 
Tui Na massage is used. This is a form of Chinese manipulative therapy used together with acupuncture, fire cupping and Chinese herbs among others. Tui Na is a hands-on body treatment that use ancient Chinese medical techniques that have withstood the test of time.
 
TCM postnatal massage works on the full body. It includes pushing up the uterus, getting rid of water retention and relieving wind. The massage also works on the meridian lines and acupoints to improve the efficiency of the treatment with better energy flow that speeds up recovery.
 
Madam Partum believes that proper pre- and post-partum TCM care can help the new mother recuperate better, and faster.
 
Part of the 50-year old TCM institution, Chien Chi Tow, Madam Partum now offers complete TCM care consisting of Pre to PostPartum Meridian Massage and 28-Day Confinement Herbal Treatments.
 
Under their Complete Recuperation programme, the stages of recovery are as below:
 
Stage 1 Womb recovery
reduces blood stasis and lochia, uterus healing.
 
Stage 2 Qi and Blood replenishment
encourages healthy milk supply, resolving engorgement and other lactation-related issues.
 
Stage 3 Regain Vitality 
strengthen immunity and promote slimming; reduce wind, water retention and addresses those body aches and pains that one can experience postpartum.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy involves using natural oils extracted from flowers, roots and other parts of a plant to aid in physical and psychological well-being. It works such that the inhaled aroma from these essential oils stimulate brain function. For years, aromatherapists have believed that treatment involving essential oils alleviates depression and recent studies have confirmed this, especially for postpartum depression.

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Aroma therapy postnatal massage with essential oils

Heat Therapy

This is done by traditional postnatal massage therapists and involves using stones that are heated and pressed on the uterus area. This helps to dislodge all the stale blood, pregnancy tissues etc., to completely clear the uterus.

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Hot Stone treatment

Obstetrician & Gynaecologist expert Dr. Regina Zuzarte -Ng, Gynae MD Women’s Clinic (Clementi) says, “When patients ask, I usually tell them to go ahead if they had a vaginal birth.

I only ask patients who had a c-section not to do it until at least two months after the birth as the abdominal wound needs time to heal first. But c-section patients can proceed with the back massage”.

Dr. Chee Jing Jye, Medical Director of the Obstretrics and Gynaecology Centre, (a Singapore Medical Group) clinic, shares how she personally chose to do postnatal massage after all three of her pregnancies.

She comments, “The benefits of postnatal massage are not medically proven as we believe that when it comes to recovery, your body works such that everything takes care of itself. The non doctor part of me though, enjoyed the postnatal massage very much. It was relaxing and all that, and of course, it gave me hopes of getting back into shape fast”.

Senior account manager and mother of two boys, Christine Thong shares that she had tried prenatal massage and had a great experience. This of course was a great pull factor for her to go ahead with postnatal massage when her mother suggested it.

After delivering her first child, she felt that the massage had helped her to slim down quickly. The slimming wrap also helped to curb her appetite which of course benefited her waistline.

After her second delivery, she found postnatal massage to be especially useful in the unclogging of milk ducts. She adds, “For both, the main benefit is also that I get to have an enforced rest time!”

She did have a rather unpleasant experience the second time though, for heat rash struck and she had to remove the slimming wrap after four hours instead of the eight hours she had initially targeted.

These are some of the postnatal massage services tried, tested and recommended by theAsianparent mummy readers. Many of the therapists operate on a freelance basis and their schedules are flexible.

Madam Partum

  • 8166 0060 / 8166 0070 (whatsapp) 62 933 933 (hotline)
  • Sessions customized to your needs and concerns to address lactation issues, musculoskeletal complains and to promote slimming.
  • Pricing of their 60 mins PostPartum massage treatment
  • 1 session of $96.30
  • 7 sessions $636.65
  • 10 sessions $856
  • 14 sessions $1123.50
  • Provides a complete TCM care from Pre to Post Partum meridian massages, to 28-Day Herbal Treatments: Herbal soups for $258; Herbal teas for $138, and Herbal Baths for $78.
  • It has close to 50 years of expertise under Chien Chi Tow Healthcare, with 10 outlets islandwide. Home services are available with an additional costs of $32.10 per trip, inclusive of a portable massage bed, complimentary towels and oils. 

Rose

  • 9270 6169
  • Package: 5 sessions. Each session is 90 minutes.
  • 5 session – $420
  • Normal delivery – 5 – 7 days; CSection – 14 -21 days
  • Full body massage, breast massage to clear ducts, herbal steam and stomach binder. Includes baby massage on last day

Safurah

  • 8223 4031
  • Package: 7 sessions. Each session is 60 minutes
  • 7 Sessions – $450
    Additional sessions at $70
  • Normal delivery – 5 days; CSection – 15 days
  • Full body massage, breast massage to clear ducts, tummy massage and stomach binder. Baby massage included

Nur

  • 8555 2844
  • Package: 1, 5, 7, 10, 14 sessions
  • 1 session – $95
  • 7 session – $630
  • 10 session – $850
  • 14 session – $1200
  • 20 session – $1600
  • Normal delivery – 5 days; CSection – 14 – 21 days later
  • Free 1 session of pre natal massage (changeable to post natal) for every package signed. 20% deposit required to secure services. Price inclusive of herbal pills, paste and binder. Baby massage included on last day (only for 14 session and 20 session).
Aida Anna
  • 9786 0674
  • Package: 5, 7, 10, 14 sessions. Each session 90 minutes.
  • 5 session – $450
  • 7 session – $610
  • 10 session – $870
  • 14 session – $1218
  • Normal delivery – 3-4 days; CSection – 7-10 days later
  • Full body massage, breast massage to clear ducts, tummy massage and stomach binder. For 10 – 14 sessions, Includes baby massage for 3 days and oil for baby. Price not inclusive of transport, one time payment #25-$35 depending on location

Kak Min

  • 8400 3533
  • Package: 1 session. Between 60-90 minutes
  • 1 session – $80
  • Normal delivery – 5 days; CSection – 14 – 21 days later
  • Price inclusive of herbal oil, jamu and binder

Junita 

  • 9646 0846 
  • Package: 1,7 sessions. Each session is 120 minutes
  • 1 session – $160 
  • 7 session – $1000
  • Price inclusive of essential, binder and towel. Baby massage available too. 

Thomson Medical / Bodyworks Post-Natal Massage

  • 6511 1183
  • Package: 1, 5, 7 sessions. Each session is 60 minutes.
  • 1 session – $128.40
  • 5 sessions – $599.20
  • 7 sessions – $802.50
  • Price includes oil, cream, transport cost and any applicable accessories with no other hidden cost.

Preg massage therapist

  • 9655 6112
  • Package: 5, 8, 10 sessions. Each session is 60 mins
  • 5 sessions – $468
  • 8 sessions – $728
  • 10 sessions – $800
  • Normal delivery – 1-2 weeks after birth; CSection – 4-6 weeks after birth.
  • Javanese Jamu Therapy. Also provides a variety of Aromatic Post-Natal Massage Therapy

Some of you may remain skeptical as there is insufficient medical evidence to prove the benefits of postnatal massage. In order to make things clearer, Salwa has been actively doing her research on this topic.

She aims to dispel some of the myths surrounding the massage and to make the medical connections and grounding. You can look out for her book that is to be released by the first half of this year.

She mentioned how most of the knowledge and skills pertaining to postnatal massage are inherited from generations of ladies practicing as midwives.

“When it comes to the full postnatal care regime, the younger generation might feel that many things are silly or superstitious and not want to follow the guidelines” Salwa commented.

“The problem is, in the olden days, many of the ladies did not have the means to explain themselves clearly or present a logical rationale for the practices they recommended. When the relevant medical connections are made, people start realising that many of these superstitions are really quite logical, and in place mainly for health reasons” explains Salwa.

Also, in the unfortunate scenario of miscarriage or still birth, postnatal care should be not neglected. “Many people do not take care of themselves as as well as if there was a baby.

What they need to remember is that especially in their situation, they are highly susceptible to depression. They need to recover and take extra care of themselves” emphasied Mamma Gie.

If you feel that you wish to give postnatal massage in Singapore a try, go right ahead. If you don’t wish to, that’s perfectly fine as well.

At the end of the day, what matters most is that you are comfortable with the massage and you take the best possible care of yourself during the crucial postnatal recovery period!

Do you have any questions or postnatal massage in Singapore? Or perhaps experiences you’d like to share? We’d love to hear so leave us a comment mums! 

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