Massage Therapy for Postpartum Depression


Having a baby is supposed to be the happiest, most wonderful time of your life. And in most cases it is, but for at least 1 in 5 new moms, Postpartum Depression can take that wonderful experience away.

After the birth of your child, you may not feel the way you expected. You may be having feelings of depression or anxiety about your baby’s health and safety. Perhaps you are having trouble bonding with your baby or struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation. These are all symptoms of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, like Postpartum Depression. You are not alone, and there is help!

Each mom is different, and treatment for postpartum depression is not one size fits all. You should talk to your doctor to find the best course of treatment for you.

The benefits of massage are undeniable. Massage therapy provides relaxation, stress reduction and pain relief. For a mother recovering from childbirth, scheduling that time for self-care can have a huge effect on health and wellness. Improved sleep, reduced back and leg pain, reduced swelling and a decrease in feelings of depression are all great benefits of massage that are especially helpful during the postpartum period. When combined with other treatments, massage can be beneficial in recovery from PPD.

Additionally, studies have shown that massage during pregnancy can also be helpful for moms after the birth of their child. One study showed that women who received regular massage for 12 weeks during pregnancy showed reduced depression during pregnancy. The effects appeared to last into the postpartum period. Newborns born to these mothers also had healthier birth weights and lower cortisol levels than the babies of mothers who did not receive massage.

Another study found that a combination of yoga and prenatal massage helped to reduce depression in pregnant mothers. The results of these studies suggest that massage is not only a great method of relaxation for those diagnosed with PPD, but also may help to reduce the risk of PPD.

Having a support system around you is also very important in the postpartum period, especially when you are struggling with PPD. Low social support is a known risk factor for PPD. One way to combat the feelings of isolation and loneliness is to find a new mom support group. Opening up about your experiences with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders can help you, and you will likely discover that others close to you have gone through, or are currently going through, the same thing. You can also share the benefits of massage with your group by hosting a “massage circle” where a therapist works on each of the women in back-to-back sessions. This is a great way to receive regular massage, without needing to secure child care and fit it into your schedule.

If you’re unable to find or attend a local in-person group, there are online support groups like those offered through Postpartum Support International that offer a safe place to get support and build community.

With support, proper medical care, and the incorporation of massage therapy your postpartum depression symptoms may be reduced.

We would love to help you on your journey through your pregnancy, and the postpartum period. Please contact us at 212-472-4772 to determine the best plan of care to help you out of postpartum depression.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor if you or someone you love needs medical advice and support. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, reach out to a medical professional for help. If you are contemplating suicide you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

Kristin Sewell