In one of my internet deep dives on how to address some hormonal issues I’ve been dealing with, I came across Amanda Montalvo and I’m so glad I did.
Amanda Montalvo is a Women’s Health Dietitian, and has been through quite the journey with healing her hormones over the last decade.
After trying the pill, getting a PCOS diagnosis, and poor advice from doctors, she knew she needed to do something.
She learned that although she was eating nutrient dense foods, her body was in such a stressed out state that it couldn’t get those nutrients into her cells. When she discovered functional testing, she was able to uncover some nutrient deficiencies, copper toxicity, and a parasite! This was all after her lab tests from doctors would come back “normal”. And so, her journey began to discover her hidden stressors, make big nutrition changes, and focus more on understanding how her body works so she can work to feel her best.
“By learning how your body works and what it needs to function optimally you can empower yourself and achieve lifelong hormone healing.”
Here, Amanda is going to share a little something about infant massage (which can also be applied to any child) and how you can support your connection to your baby and their health all at the same time.
Utilizing Baby Massage
If you have a baby or child you are probably somewhat familiar with baby massage. It’s something we tend to do naturally when our little ones are struggling to calm them, get rid of gas, or even help them when they are constipated. I know I got familiar with baby massage real fast once I discovered that newborns tend to struggle with gas, especially when they are breastfed. Their digestive systems are still developing and breast milk breaks down so quickly that sometimes they can get gas. We woke up many nights with Eliana crying and it broke my heart. Our chiropractor showed us how to massage her belly in a clockwise circle motion and that helped. I then started researching and came across Elina from Kahlmi. Her Instagram is packed with helpful videos on how to massage your baby for different issues. We quickly started chatting online and I had to have her on the podcast.
Benefits of Baby Massage
Baby massage has many benefits for babies, but it also has benefits for parents. The act of massaging your baby has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels in parents–pretty powerful and something I think we all need in the postpartum season. When it comes to your baby, massage has been shown to improve brain development and learning capacity. It’s also been shown to help calm babies down and provide pain relief. It’s even been shown to be more effective for reducing colic in babies than rocking them. And one that I think every mom would appreciate, it can help them sleep better and fall asleep faster.
Reflexology & Baby Massage
One important aspect of what I’ve learned about baby massage is reflexology. Reflexology is a type of massage that involves applying different amounts of pressure to the feet, hands, and ears. It’s based on a theory that these body parts are connected to certain organs and body systems. This is an ancient practice and is typically paired with acupressure in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
There are many points on the feet and hands that can be utilized with baby massage. I find the feet the most effective and the ones I use the most. Specifically the arch of the foot, which is great for constipation and gas, and the heel, which is connected to the pelvis and also great for constipation. You use your fingers and apply moderate pressure on those areas. You want to make sure it’s not too light of pressure because it can tickle/not be as effective. You can also massage the entire foot in general. Eliana LOVES getting her feet massaged. If she wakes up at night with gas, the first thing I do is gently apply pressure to those areas on her feet. I find it calms her down right away so she isn’t crying anymore and then usually 10-15 minutes later she will pass the gas or a bowel movement. This paired with massaging her abdomen has been so helpful for us. I had no idea that babies struggled with gas. She’s older now, so she’s grown out of it (thank god), but this is something I wish I was prepared with before she was born. It’s so hard when you want to help your baby but don’t know how. I do find that the vibration from the Kahlmi is really helpful although sometimes I just use my hands if I don’t have the Kahlmi handy. When the vibration is on, I find it relieves the gas quicker and she almost always poops right away. The bottom of the Kahlmi also has the acupressure nodes that you can use for the foot reflexology.
Putting It Into Practice
You’ve read about the benefits of baby massage and love the idea of it, but how exactly do you start a daily practice? I didn’t necessarily make a daily practice where I massage Eliana at the same time every day since our day to day can vary based on her naps, but I did start massaging her regularly to get her used to it. Not all babies love massage at first. This can make it hard to apply the helpful tips for things like gas or constipation when your baby is already upset. I recommend starting to massage your baby regularly then using the tools as needed. For example, Eliana was struggling with gas when she was first born so we started with the abdominal and foot massage first. I would do it when she was in a good mood each day and then if she woke up at night and I massaged her she would calm down and enjoy it. I found that massaging her after she ate was a good time for us. She typically already had a bowel movement and was happy since she was fed, so laying her down and slowing down a bit with her came pretty naturally. You also don’t need a routine or a tool to massage your baby. Do what feels intuitive. I think about it like massaging your partner. You don’t make a plan before you do it. You just do it in a way that is loving and caring and enjoyable. You can do the same with your baby and strengthen your bond even more plus learn how to relieve unwanted symptoms and make them more comfortable along the way.
Our massage routine has changed based on different seasons. We started with focusing on gas since that was our main concern when she was little, but it has quickly moved to teething and some tightness in her neck we have been working on improving. The practice will grow and evolve with your baby. What’s most important is to have fun and enjoy your time with your little one!
This could be my obsession of the week or Eliana’s, haha. In honor of our infant massage episode, I am sharing my guest Elina’s amazing tool, the Kahlmi. It’s funny how as my daughter Eliana gets older, we go through different phases of using the Kahlmi. We once used it the most for digestion and gas, but we’re now constantly using it for teething. I’m sure it will continue to change as she gets older, but man am I happy I have this device! You 100% do not need this to start infant massage, it’s just extra helpful for some things like gas or teething because of the vibration. She could be crying because of her gums and then I turn it on and she puts it right to her mouth and calms down. We’ve also woken up many times in the middle of the night with her crying from gas pains (which is absolutely heartbreaking) when she was little. Their digestive system is still developing and breast milk breaks down so quickly, which is the perfect recipe for gas. Using clockwise circles with the vibration of the Kahlmi as well as the acupressure on her foot, always helped her recover in the next 10-15 minutes (sometimes sooner). Elina shows you how to use this in our podcast episode. You can watch the Youtube version here to see!
Learn more about Amanda and her work at hormonehealingrd.com.
Her podcast, Are You Menstrual, is helping women remove confusion around nutrition and have healthy periods. You can listen on Apple or Spotify!
And you can subscribe to her weekly newsletter for tips on helping your body work optimally.