How a Swedish baby massage class helped me connect with my daughter
Guest post by Lisa Ferland
I am admittedly, not a granola-crunchy, organic-only, pesticide-free person. I grew up in an era before Whole30 was a concept and when the FDA food pyramid recommended that the bulk of your caloric intake come in white bread carbohydrates. However, I wholly embraced going on nature walks, picking blueberries and mushrooms ever since we moved to Sweden in 2012. If we had still lived in the U.S., I wouldn’t have been exposed to Sweden’s holistic prenatal care. I surprised everyone when I chose hypnosis for my primary child birthing method and shocked even more people, including myself, when hypnosis resulted in a pain free and uncomplicated birthing experience. I thought, “Maybe those hippie-chicks know what they are doing after all, eh?” My husband took this as sign that I might want to convert my jeans into yoga pants and signed me up for a Swedish baby massage class with our newborn daughter. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t like a nice massage?
My hopes for the baby massage classes were that it would provide nice bonding time between my daughter and I and that I might become more attuned with her needs as a newborn. The class pamphlet advertised that following a massage, some babies will become so relaxed that they fall into a deep, blissful sleep as you make your way back home.
The yoga studio in central Stockholm was amazingly cozy with heavy curtains on the windows to keep out the cold November temperatures and soft Indian music tinkling in the background. I immediately relaxed but my daughter was not convinced. Instead of a serenely relaxed baby, as the massage brochure clearly advertised, my 8-week old daughter was a stiff limbed, crying, peeing and pooping mess. The massage instructor reassured me that her resistance was completely normal and that not all babies are able to relax during massage.
Halfway through our five-class massage program, I started to doubt whether this was worthwhile. My uncooperative baby was disrupting the tranquil environment for the rest of the class and I felt she was testing the patience of even the very understanding elderly Swedish yogi.
“But look! There are pretty candles! Now it’s time to relax!” I would plead with my daughter as I tried to massage the numerous fat rolls on her arms. “This is so relaxing,” I would coo at her. She responded with louder cries and more digestive responses.
Advised to continue the massage techniques at home where she may be more comfortable, together we persevered. While perhaps not as relaxing as I had hoped, the Swedish baby massage class did provide quality bonding time together. Now that she is nearly two years old, I cherish those calmer moments that we had together when she was just an infant. At least for one hour a day, once a week, we could escape the craziness of our house and immerse ourselves into the relaxing environment of the yoga studio. On a few occasions she did sleep soundly in the stroller on the way home but I attributed those to her nonstop crying during the 45-minute class and not to the massage itself. However accomplished, the train ride home was blissful and I can recommend a baby massage class to any parent as a new way to connect with your infant.
Lisa Ferland is a U.S. citizen living in Sweden with her husband, two children, and elderly dog. She is currently writing a book, Knocked Up Abroad: Tales of pregnancy, birth and raising a family while living in a foreign country, that features stories from all over the globe. If you enjoyed this article, please read more at www.knockedupabroadbook.com
BY COURTNEY LANDIN
POSTED: OCTOBER 28, 2015