Mothers' experiences learning and performing infant massage—A qualitative study

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Abstract

Aims and objective

To explore the experience of learning infant massage among mothers who are having insecurity and stress in their transition to motherhood.

Background

Secure attachment is essential for healthy infant development. An interaction with the caregiver, characterised by sensitivity, engagement and adequate responding, is necessary for the development of attachment. However, transition to parenting can be a major challenge and create insecurity and stress for some mothers. This can interfere with mother's attachment and sensitivity to the baby's cues, which in turn can affect the mother–infant interaction. Mothers who struggled postpartum were invited to participate in a group called Mamma Mia, a programme where mothers learn infant massage as targeted measure for improving interaction between the mother and baby. To date, there is limited knowledge how mothers receiving this group programme experience infant massage.

Design and method

A qualitative and explorative approach was used, based on interviews with 12 mothers who had participated in Mamma Mia group facilitated by public health nurses at Well Child Clinics in Norway. We used qualitative content analysis with manifest and latent content to analyse the transcripts.

Result

One main theme emerged: “A relief with an opportunity for emotional and physical connection with the baby” and four categories were identified to highlight the mothers' experiences through (a) appreciating the structure, (b) providing self-esteem and self-confidence, (c) connecting with the baby and (d) discovering the baby's presence.

Conclusions

Mothers in this study in Norway enjoyed the experience of learning infant massage and felt closer to their babies as a result.

Relevance to clinical practice

Training of health professionals to provide infant massage to mothers in a Mamma Mia group or similar groups can be a low cost and efficient intervention in primary care.

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