Most babies get gas or get constipated, especially as they are growing into their ability to digest breast milk or formula. Another time of adjustment is when your baby begins to eat solid foods. The belly massage for a baby is very similar to some of the techniques which are used in the Japanese 'Hara' massage for adults called 'Ampuku'. As a Shiatsu teacher, I found it was always a profound experience for students to give and receive 'Ampuku'. Babies like it as well and as a parent it is always reassuring that you have ways to relieve your child's pain!
There are 2 rules for giving your baby a belly massage: a) Wait 1/2 hour after eating breast milk and 3/4 hour after formula b) Always do strokes in a clockwise direction, the way the plumbing goes! If your baby is crying/fussy and your baby is not sick then gas maybe the reason for the discomfort. How do you know it is gas? There are usually 5 basic needs that are needing to be met at any moment in time when a baby is crying: Feeding; changing; tired; needing connection; and gas/digestive discomfort.( NB, Teething can also be another reason for discomfort. Massaging the gums gently with your little finger can help ) Listen to the cry and respond. Is the cry a monotone 'grumble' or is it high pitched, which indicates a severe pain or need.? If at any point during the massage the crying goes to a high pitch then stop the massage.
Once you have established that your baby has gas pain (the time of the last eating can also help establish that it is intestinal gas) then gently and with full contact place the palm of your hand on your baby's belly (the other on the side of your baby). This is 'still touch' and is very effective if the parent is calm and relaxed as your baby can sense your energy. Tell your baby what you are doing and watch for and respond to any non-verbal request from your baby to stop.
Slowly move your palm in a clockwise circular motion and do this 6 times. Then, you are going to hold both legs under the knees and bend the babys knees towards the chest. Hold for 15 seconds. In this position gently rock the baby's body from side to side. Bring the legs back down and begin the sequence again. Doing this six times can usually relieve irritating gas/fecal congestion pain. Do not forget to keep a diaper on the baby as fecal matter and gas get moving with a belly massage!
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