I am a senior nursing student at the University of Minnesota and we had a class session on Complementary Care which highlighted infant massage.
Infant massage has been a common practice in many parts of the world, but it has only recently been researched in the U.S. Infant massage provides both stimulation and relaxation. It stimulates respiration, circulation, digestion, and elimination. Infants who are massaged sleep more soundly and are aided in the healing process during illness (Field, T., 1994).
Preterm infants have been found to especially benefit from massage. Research indicates that massaged preterm infants gain more weight, are awake and active more often, do better developmentally, show fewer stress responses, and are hospitalized fewer days (Field, T., 1994).
In addition to the physiological benefits of infant massage, this practice facilitates parent-infant bonding. Infant massage improves attachment, makes parents feel more competent, reinforces parenting skills, and enhances communication. It offers either parent a set time for quiet, uninterrupted interaction that fosters well being on both sides (Children's Integrative Medicine, 2000).
I would be interested in hearing if any of you have used infant massage in NICU and what your experiences have been.
Some useful web cites on infant massage are: http://www.infantmassage.com/ http://www.babymassage.net/index.htm http://www.miami.edu/touch-research/
Children's Integrative Medicine-The Healing Place. (2000). Children's Hospitals & Clinics. Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota.
Field, T. (1994). Infant Massage. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 3(3), 7-12.
Martha Fish, Senior Nursing Student