Mother–infant bonding disorders affect a mother's ability to cope with the care of her infant and can have long-term adverse consequences for the mother–infant relationship. Evidence demonstrates the benefits of infant massage with preterm and low birth weight infants to improve the mother's mental health, but benefits are unknown among mothers with full-term infants. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of full-term infant massage for a 4-week period on mother's emotional state.
This is an intervention research.
The study was conducted in Shiga Prefecture, Japan.
Primiparous mothers at 3 months postpartum who attended an infant massage class participated in this study as intervention group (n = 20).
Mothers were encouraged to massage their infants for 10 to 15 minutes at least once per day for 4 weeks, starting when their infants were 3 months old. The control group was paired with the intervention group by matching the parity and postpartum period (n = 20), and the mother was required to hold her infant for 15 minutes instead of massage. The mother's emotional status was assessed using a Japanese version of the Profile of Mood States and Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire at the beginning and the end of the intervention. The Profile of Mood States assesses six emotional states as subscales: tension-anxiety, depression, anger-hostility, vigor, fatigue, and confusion.
The mothers in the intervention group had done infant massage every day. No significant differences were observed in all subscales of Profile of Mood States and total Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire scores between the intervention and control groups at either 3 or 5 months postpartum. The score of anger-hostility at 5 months postpartum was significantly lower than that at 3 months postpartum in the intervention group but not the other subscales. A significant correlation was observed between the total Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire scores and score of tension-anxiety at 3 months postpartum (p < .05), and between the total Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire scores and score of fatigue at 5 months postpartum in the intervention group (p < .05), but not in the control group.
Conclusion/Implications for Nursing Practice
Through massage, the mother learns how to cope with the care of her infant and enhances her confidence in parenting abilities. This study suggests that the daily practice of full-term infant massage by the mother for 4 weeks may have beneficial effects on the maternal emotional mood.