Did the breathing techniques help with your labour?
During my 3 1/2 days of labour the breathing was one of the few things that helped me cope. I was able to focus on my breathing through contractions right up until 2 hours before he was born.
Zahra, Mother of baby Jibreel
How have the classes helped you during your pregnancy?
I have been attending Penny’s antenatal yoga classes since I was 16 weeks pregnant. The main reason I started was because I have a reasonably stressful job and my blood pressure was a bit high. I have found the classes really helpful, especially the breathing exercises. I had a situation recently when I felt myself getting really stressed by something at work – I dash off to the ladies and did some of the breathing exercises which helped me relax, focus and handle the situation calmly. I really feel that the classes are doing me and my baby the world of good and would recommend them to any expectant mum to be.
As a total yoga novice, I had no idea what to expect in pregnancy yoga, but it quickly became the highlight of my week. As I approached the birth I felt prepared and supported. The breathing techniques you taught me single handedly got me to 10 cm with no pain relief. When Jacob arrived you helped us to increase the bond in baby massage and helped his development in baby yoga. Baby yoga is my fave class ever! I'm sad our journey has come to an end-see you next time!
Kayleigh and Jacob
I cannot thank you enough, yoga kept me calm when Monique made her rather bumpy etnrance into the world. Massage and yoga have been brilliant and has really helped Monique and I strengthen our bond.
Karen and Monique
How did your baby massage instructor help you to feel comfortable in the class?
'Very calm and soothing manner, explained things very clearly, inspired confidence'
Colwyn, Father of 6 month old
How was your experience of baby massage as a 1:1 course with your premature baby?
1:1 Baby massage for my premature baby with Penny has been a great experience for both of us. Penny is professional and really friendly, setting a calm and relaxed atmosphere. She shares her wealth of knowledge in a fun way that's easy to understand and appropriate to your baby's situation. When my baby slept through a class, using the premature doll was great as you do need to adapt strokes slightly for a premature baby. I'm now confident to build massage into my daily routine and pleased to have techniques that help my baby's reflux. We shall miss our classes!
Zoë, mother of 5 month old(10 weeks corrected age)
What did you like best about the class?
'Interaction, discussion and explanation of movements'
Lisa, Mother of 7 month old
What did you learn from and about your baby in terms of infant massage?
'How and when he likes to be touched, strokes that can soothe and relax him at anytime'
Alison, Mother of four children, baby aged 8 months
What did you like best about the class?
'Personal attention from Penny and opportunity to devote time to baby, lovely setting, nice touches such as refreshments and music in background on arrival'
Sarah, Mother of four children, baby aged 4 months
How did your instructor help you to feel comfortable in the class?
'Penny holds the class in a very relaxed and calming fashion and encouraged the mums to talk'
Jo, Mother of 16 week old
'I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, it has been fabulous, thank you so much'
Kate, Mother of 6 month old
'Loved the cakes'
Emma, Mother of a 2 month old
Frequently Asked Questions
Baby Massage Courses
What type of massage is taught?
You will be taught both elements of swedish and indian massage and principles from reflexology and yoga.
What age of baby can attend?
Baby massage is for parents and their babies newborn to crawling.
Baby yoga is for parents and their babies 8 weeks old to walking
I have a premature baby, can I attend?
Research has shown the benefits of infant massage on premature babies. Penny will find out more about you and your child before the class begins. Strokes can be adapted if required for premature babies and these will be shown on the course along with comforting holds. There is a premature baby doll to practice on should your baby be asleep or not in the mood during a class. 1:1 sessions are recommended if your baby is still very young.
What will I need to bring?
- Yourself and your baby
- A towel for the baby to lie on and maybe one more
- Spare clothes and nappy if required
- Bottle if baby is bottle fed; massages can make the baby thirsty
- It is advisable to wear loose clothing for your own comfort
Where will you travel to to run massage classes in parents homes?
Anywhere within reason. Areas include:-Buntingford, Royston, Ware, Hertford, Bishops Stortford, Great Amwell, Harlow, Sawbridgeworth, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Hoddesdon,Wormley, Baldock, Saffron Waldon, Welwyn, Letchworth, Stansted, Stevenage, Hitchin and all surrounding villages. I also travel to neighbouring counties for parent hosted classes. If your area is not included, please still call to enquire.
Why run the infant massage classes in a home environment?
A home environment has all the right conditions to ensure both parent and baby can relax and enjoy this wonderful ancient art. I ensure in my own home that the temperature and lighting relax, there is background music on arrival and home comforts are there in a quiet and relaxed settting.
What if my baby sleeps during the class?
Don’t worry if the baby is asleep or not in the mood for a massage, the strokes are taught so you can practice them at home and there is a spare doll should you wish to practice in the class.
The classes are very baby friendly, parents are encouraged to see to whatever their baby needs during the class.
Should I attend if this is not my first child?
Absolutely, the programme teaches parents not only the strokes that may aid children physically but also offers parents that valuable one to one time with their child which can be increasingly difficult the more children someone has. Every child is different and the child related discussions allow parents to discover more about the beauty of each child and their own unique ways. The programme also shows how siblings can get involved.
My baby has colic will massage help?
On the course massage strokes are taught that parents over time have said has aided babies with colic
My baby has reflux will massage help?
Massage on any area of the body is able to assist a reflux baby by stimulation of the vagus nerve and thus an increase in effectiveness of muscle control and regulation. It also relaxes a baby to help with the pain.
I am a father, can I attend?
Definitely, baby massage allows wonderful quality bonding time for fathers and their children. Massage allows fathers to get to know their children in an extraordinary way and take part in the child rearing.
I am suffering from post natal depression can baby massage help?
All classes respect the privacy of those that attend. Studies have shown that by attending regularly infant massage classes it may improve postnatal depression which about 70,000 women in the UK suffer with each year. In addition classes can may improve the quality of mother-infant interaction women by attending the classes. The classes provide an opportunity to meet and share experiences with other parents, no one is ever alone. Please see the research section. One to one courses are also available.
Can infant massage continue when my child gets older?
Infant massage has many advantages in being continued as the child matures. Before the age of twelve, children are very tactile-kinesthetic i.e. they use feelings more than hearing or sight for information on the world. Touch can produce more feelings than words. A child who is praised with just words, registers this fifteen percent of the time whilst a child who is praised and touched absorbs this eighty five percent of the time. Massage can not only help with relaxation and also that close relationship between parent and child can benefit by enhancing the child’s self-esteem. Part of the programme discusses adapting strokes as the child gets older.
Penny Constantinou has 8 years of experience and is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor through the International Association of Infant Massage which has been operating for over 30 years around the world. She is also qualified through Birthlight to teach baby yoga (including post natal yoga)and teaches also pre and post natal yoga.She is qualified through Classical Yoga, Yogagro and soon through Birthlight to teach Pregnancy yoga. She adores babies, has a keen interest in child development and is happy to recommend any books or research articles to parents. Penny is CRB checked and also worked on a consultancy basis in a safe staffing role being a national lead in safe staffing with a background in both social care and education in this field.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Penny Constantinou
For further information on the International Association of Infant Massage please visit their website at http://www.iaim.org.uk
Can I bring an older sibling along to the class?
Siblings are welcome provided they will not distract the parent and the rest of the class. There is a doll they can practice baby massage on should they wish to join in and there are colouring pencils.
Research is now being done into the positive effects of massage and touch on both parent and child. Please contact me if you would like to know more.
Baby Massage and Premature babies
There has been much global research undertaken into baby massage and premature babies. What has been evident when looking at these studies it that the majority of babies who are regularly massaged experienced greater weight gain and better performance on developmental tasks than those who did not. Research has also shown many babies sleep better and their cortisol levels (stress hormone) decreased after a massage
Baby Massage and Depressed Mothers
Studies have shown that in a controlled group, mothers who massaged their babies over a period of time can reduce their levels of depression and improve the quality of mother-infant interaction.
Baby Massage in general
Research papers have shown that baby massage may have benefits such as mother-infant interaction, sleeping and crying and on hormones influencing stress levels. Some studies have shown that Oxytocin (a hormone) is released not only in the person receiving the massage but also in the person administering it. Oxytocin is a hormone that is important to mothers for many reasons including controlling and stimulating the explusion of milk and aids in bonding and attachment. For babies it induces social memory and calmness in the infant. Children who receive massage become more socially mature and less aggressive with fewer physical complaints. Research has also shown the positive effects of massage for various conditions such as asthma, cancer and autism in for children.
Baby Massage and Reflux
Massage on any area of the body is able to assist a reflux baby by stimulation of the vagus nerve and thus an increase in effectiveness of muscle control and regulation.
Baby Yoga - Research
There is mounting evidence from both neuroscience and from therapeutic techniques that movement in young babies and children is crucial to the formation of neural pathways and, therefore thinking. Primitive reflexes need to be matured or intergrated into movement patterns that are under our control. The only way for this to happen is for babies and young children to be given plenty of opportunities to move, to strenghten muscles, to practice movements and to learn to control them.
In addition baby yoga just like massage involves those crucial elements of bonding for both parent and baby and allows parents and babies to benefit from both movement and stillness which can can so aid re-energising parents and influence stress levels.
What is wonderful to see is that relaxation techniques are increasingly being practised not only in complementary medicine but also in conventional medical settings to help with mild anxiety and depression
Pregnancy Yoga research
May 2014 researchers from Newcastle University published the results of a worldwide study that showed that pregnancy yoga can help reduce the risk of ladies developing anxiety and depression in pregnancy. A single class of pregnancy yoga was found to reduce anxiety by one third and stress hormone levels by 14%. There was also evidence to show how by attending pregnancy yoga you can reduce the need for pain relief during birth and the likelihood for delivery by emergency caesarean section .