Postpartum Depression Strikes Fathers! Infant Massage can help.

When I think about Postpartum Depression, I think women! After working on reducing postpartum depression for women with infant massage for over 15 years, ( Great  medical research about the benefit of infant massage helping postpartum depression can be read at the end of the article) and  it really make a difference!  I will now make sure that Daddy is included in the training!  Doctor Richard Friedman writes:

RICHARD A. FRIEDMAN, M.D. Published: December 7, 2009 The pregnancy was easy, the delivery a breeze. This was the couple’s first baby, and they were thrilled. But within two months, the bliss of new parenthood was shattered by postpartum depression. This sad, familiar story. But this one had a twist: The patient who came to me for treatment was not the mother but her husband. A few weeks after the baby arrived, he had become uncharacteristically anxious, sad and withdrawn. He had trouble sleeping, even though his wife was the one up at night breast-feeding their new son. What scared her enough to bring him to my office was that he had become suicidal. Up to 80 percent of women experience minor sadness — the so-called baby blues — after giving birth, and about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression. But it turns out that men can also have postpartum depression, and its effects can be every bit as disruptive — not just on the father but on mother and child. We don’t know the exact prevalence of male postpartum depression; studies have used different methods and diagnostic criteria. Dr. Paul G. Ramchandani, a psychiatrist at the University of Oxford in England who did a study based on 26,000 parents, reported in The Lancet in 2005 that 4 percent of fathers had clinically significant depressive symptoms within eight weeks of the birth of their children. But one thing is clear: It isn’t something most people, including physicians, have ever heard of. At first, my patient insisted that everything was just fine. He and his wife had been trying to conceive for more than a year. He was ecstatic at the prospect of fatherhood, and he did not acknowledge feeling depressed or suicidal. Suspicious of his rosy appraisal, I pushed a little. It turned out that he had just taken a new high-pressure job in finance six months before the birth of his son. Though he was reluctant to admit it, he clearly had more than a little concern about his family’s financial future. And he was anxious about his marriage and his new life. “We go out a lot with friends to dinner and theater,” he said wistfully, as I recall. “Now I guess that’s all going to end.” He had spent the nine months of pregnancy in a state of excitement about being a father without really registering what a life-transforming event it was going to be. Unlike women, men are not generally brought up to express their emotions or ask for help. This can be especially problematic for new fathers, since the prospect of parenthood carries all kinds of insecurities: What kind of father will I be? Can I support my family? Is this the end of my freedom? And there is probably more to male postpartum depression than just social or psychological stress; like motherhood, fatherhood has its own biology, and it may actually change the brain. A 2006 study on marmoset monkeys, published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, reported that new fathers experienced a rapid increase in receptors for the hormone vasopressin in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Along with other hormones, vasopressin is involved in parental behavior in animals, and it is known that the same brain area in humans is activated when parents are shown pictures of their children. There is also some evidence that testosterone levels tend to drop in men during their partner’s pregnancy, perhaps to make expectant fathers less aggressive and more likely to bond with their newborns. Given the known association between depression and low testosterone in middle-aged men, it is possible that this might also put some men at risk of postpartum depression. By far the strongest predictor of paternal postpartum depression is having a depressed partner. In one study, fathers whose partners were also depressed were at nearly two and a half times the normal risk for depression. That was a critical finding, for clinicians tend to assume that men can easily step up to the plate and help fill in for a depressed mother. In fact, they too may be stressed and vulnerable to depression. And there is the child to think about. Research has clearly shown that maternal postpartum depression can impair the emotional and cognitive development of infants. A father could well buffer the infant from some of the adverse effects of maternal depression — but that is a tall order if he too is depressed. Dr. Ramchandani, who also followed children for three and a half years after birth, reported that they were affected differently depending on which parent was depressed. Maternal postpartum depression was associated with adverse emotional and behavioral effects in children regardless of sex; depression in fathers was linked only with behavioral problems in boys. (The study did not report on possible effects when both parents were depressed.) As for my patient, he recovered within two months with the help of psychotherapy and an antidepressant. Afterward, he summed up the situation in just 10 words: “And I thought only women get this kind of thing.” All too many doctors think so too. Richard A. Friedman is a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Sign in to RecommendNext Article in Health (2 of 34) » A version of this article appeared in print on December 8, 2009, on page D6 of the New York edition.

Studies have also demonstrated benefits of infant massage, including beneficial effects on parameters that could affect postpartum depression. Field et al.  have shown that compared to rocking, infant massage can lead to more organized infant sleep patterns and more positive interaction behaviors, parameters that would likely have a positive effect on the stress and anxiety levels of a depressed mother. The study by Field et al. compared the effects of rocking and massage on 40 full-term infants between the ages of 1 and 3 months who were born to depressed mothers. The infants either received 15 minutes of rocking or 15 minutes of massage twice a week for 6 weeks. In addition to the effects mentioned above, the infants who received massage spent significantly more time in inactive alert and active awake states, cried less, and had lower levels of cortisol in their saliva. Massage was also shown to be significantly more effective than rocking for inducing sleep. The infants in the massage group also gained significantly more weight and showed a significantly greater improvement on emotionality, sociability, and soothability temperament scores over the 6-week study.

More recently, researchers have investigated instructing and supervising mothers in infant massage as a way to improve the maternal-infant interaction. This may in turn play a role in improving the other deleterious psychological and physiologic effects of maternal depression on infants. Onozawa and colleagues evaluated whether attending infant massage classes could reduce postpartum depression and improve the mother-infant interaction in 34 depressed primiparous mothers at a median of 9 weeks postpartum. Depression was identified by using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at 4 weeks after birth, and the mothers were randomly assigned to either a massage (treatment) group or a support (control) group. Both groups attended five weekly sessions, and researchers assessed depression and quality of interaction at the beginning and end of the study. Outcome measures were depression scores and global ratings of mother-infant interactions at 2 months. Depression decreased in both groups, but only the massage group showed statistically significant improvement in mother-infant interaction. These two studies suggest that involvement in infant massage classes may be helpful in reducing some stressors for depressed mothers and improving their interactions with their infants.

To get more information about infant massage DVD or  family training click on:


Colic-y-Baby Massage Testimonial

Mom massaging Francesca Just had to send a note of THANKS!

After trying for years to have a child our prayers were answered when we finally gave birth to our daughter Francesca. As a first time mother I knew that our lives would be filled with one joyful blessing after another.

Fast forward six sleepless weeks and this bleary eyed mom was left feeling helpless as her angel transformed into a colicky terror. No matter what we tried from the hours of six to midnight and 10 am to noon our daughter would be screaming and curling up in pain NONSTOP and we were just helpless! We tried it all and when the pediatrician told us sometimes it can last until the baby is  3-4 months old we just felt hopeless!

It was horrible and then my brother gave us the gift of INFANT MASSAGE.

My husband, ever the skeptic, was making jokes saying “what’s next a pedicure” but we both agreed it was worth a shot. Honestly we didn’t expect much. Boy were we wrong! Not only did Marie-Josee take the time to find out what we wanted to get out of the session but she talked to us about how massage could help with everything from better bonding with the baby to colic….. YES colic!!!! We couldn’t believe it!

Francesca ended up having her 10 am colic attack during the session and to our amazement my daughter actually quieted down as the massage went on!!

NEVER in six weeks had that happened! Both my husband and I were just in shock and we couldn’t wait to learn how to do it ourselves.  Marie-Josee patiently showed us the proper techniques and explained the “why” of each move. It has changed our life and Francesca loves her massage session with mommy and daddy! It has come part of our daily bedtime routine. As for the colic, it is like a bad distant dream because we also do the massage just before her typical “colic hours” and it really soothes her. Marie-Josee gave us back our angel and more than hope she gave us an easy-to-follow plan that has made all the difference!

Myriam DiGiovanni

Who do you know who have a colicky baby?

Marie-Josee created an Educational DVD where you can learn how to massage your colicky or happy baby! You can go online at: to purchase the DVD or make an appointment for an infant massage class.

Infant Massage Institute: What is Colic?

Easing Colic Through MassageWhat is colic???

In the 1950’s,Dr. Morris Wessel, Pediatrician defines an infant with colic as one who:
The rule of three:
• fussing or crying lasting for a total of three hours a day
• occurring on more than three days in one week
• for a period of three weeks
By experience, I noticed that colic:
• Typically begins at three weeks of age
• Usually Gone by three and a half month of age

I have been working in the massage field for 18 years, I met a lot of unhappy parents with colicky baby, their doctor just told them to wait for 3months!!!until it goes away! Learning the massage technic for colicky baby can make a great difference: when baby is happy! mommy is happy! Learning how to massage your baby will also enhances the bonding between you and your child.

Get your DVD now at to massage your little one in the comfort of your home!

Do you know anybody with a colicky baby? Have any questions? I am looking forward to connecting with you.


Marie-Josee Berard LMT,NCTMB

I am pregnant, should I still receive my weekly Swedish massage appointment?

Your body is changing, and it could be hazardous for you and the baby to receive a conventional, “swedish” massage.  On the other hand, it’s not only important; it’s beneficial to look for a certified pre-natal massage therapist.  

Before the session, a patient intake form should include question concerning your pregnancy.  Examples: how far along are you in your pregnancy? Do you have gestational diabetes?  Do you suffer from preeclampsia?  I also suggest that the therapist connects with your OBGYN. In my practice, before the treatment, I always contact the OBGYN (by fax) and request a permission letter to start with pre-natal massage.

Act with prudence and ask your Therapist even silly questions!  Your partner may like to massage your feet, but this is restricted for the first trimester due to  pressure  points  that could initiate contractions. How would you know without asking? During your second and third trimester a 5 minutes foot massage is fine. Keep in mind these tips:

  • Ask for doctor’s approval before proceeding.
  • Only very light pressure  must be  applied.
  • Reflexology  (under the foot) can be used to alleviate constipation.
  • Top of the foot , light effleurage  must be applied from toes  to leg.
  • At any time of  the pregnancy AVOID area around ankles, could also start contractions.

Massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as an emotional and physical health supplement proven to improve pregnancy satisfaction, and maternal health. Once again, seek out an appropriate massage therapist, and make your appointment!  


Marie-Josee Berard

Enhancing mother-baby connection