After the miracle of childbirth, the postpartum period is a crucial time for a birthing person’s body to heal and recover.
During this phase, healthcare providers often employ various techniques to support optimal healing and prevent complications.
One such technique is fundal massage, which plays a vital role in postpartum recovery.
In this article, we will explore the concept of fundal massage, its benefits, and how it aids in the healing process after childbirth.
Whether you’re an expectant parent or a curious reader seeking to understand postpartum care, join us as we delve into the world of fundal massage and its significance in promoting postpartum well-being.
Let’s dive in!
What is Fundal Massage?
In the realm of postpartum care, fundal massage is a technique that focuses on the uterine area.
The term “fundus” refers to the top of the uterus.
During this massage, the top of the uterus, or the fundus, is gently rubbed to encourage contraction and prevent excessive bleeding after childbirth.
It might surprise many that this seemingly painful procedure is routine in postpartum care.
Fundal massage is essential to ensure the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size and position, a process known as “uterine involution.”
This massage is critical in aiding this process and ensuring the mother’s well-being.
The Role of Fundal Massage in Postpartum Recovery
Fundal massage is a key player in the game of postpartum recovery. After the baby’s delivery and the placenta, the uterus has an open wound that bleeds.
This massage assists in uterine contraction, which helps expel blood and possible clots.
The primary objective of this massage is to prevent postpartum hemorrhaging – a complication that can be life-threatening if not managed effectively.
Fundal massage, therefore, acts as a safeguarding procedure, ensuring that the uterus contracts properly and reduces the risk of heavy bleeding post-childbirth.
Why is Fundal Massage Necessary?
Fundal massage serves a dual purpose – it helps manage bleeding and supports the uterus in returning to its normal size.
Managing Postpartum Bleeding:
After the delivery of the placenta, the uterus is left with an open wound that continues to bleed.
This bleeding is perfectly normal, and the body has its mechanism to manage it.
The uterus contracts to push out the blood and clots, similar to how it helped push out the baby and placenta.
However, if the uterus doesn’t contract efficiently, the blood might accumulate inside it, leading to complications like back pain or severe hemorrhaging.
Fundal massage is crucial in stimulating the uterus to contract and expel blood and clots.
Supporting Uterine Involution:
Postpartum, the uterus undergoes a process called involution, where it works to return to its pre-pregnancy size and position.
Fundal massage aids this process by encouraging the uterus to contract and gradually shrink to its normal size.
How is Fundal Massage Performed?
The procedure of fundal massage is relatively straightforward. After the baby’s delivery and the placenta, the healthcare provider locates the fundus, the top of the uterus, which should be found right at or below the belly button.
Once located, the fundus is massaged in a downward and inward motion.
Though massage might conjure images of a relaxing spa, fundal massage is often described as uncomfortable or even painful.
However, the discomfort is for a good cause, as it helps the uterus contract and expels blood and clots, promoting healing after childbirth.
The Frequency and Duration of Fundal Massages
Fundal massage is usually performed every 10 minutes or so, depending on the rate of bleeding.
The massage might be more vigorous and frequent if the bleeding is heavier. The good news is that each massage session is relatively brief.
Pitocin and Its Role in Postpartum Healing
In a hospital setting, a synthetic version of oxytocin, known as Pitocin, is often administered immediately after birth as a preventive measure against postpartum hemorrhaging.
Pitocin helps the uterus contract and reduces postpartum bleeding.
But it’s important to note that even with the administration of Pitocin, hemorrhaging can still occur.
This is where the role of fundal massage becomes even more critical.
The massage, combined with the many health benefits of breast milk, helps stimulate natural oxytocin production, which aids in uterine contraction and postpartum healing.
The Importance of an Empty Bladder During Labor
An interesting point to note is the impact of a full bladder on uterine contraction.
A full bladder can displace the uterus to the side, preventing it from contracting efficiently and potentially leading to excessive bleeding or hemorrhage.
Therefore, maintaining an empty bladder during labor is vital for efficient uterine contraction and minimizing the risk of hemorrhaging.
How Can You Assist in the Process?
While the healthcare provider will primarily perform the fundal massage, you can also play an active role.
Ask your care provider to guide you on locating and feeling for your fundus, so you can assist in massaging it.
This will help speed up your postpartum recovery and give you a sense of control in your healing process.
Fundal Massage at Home Birth
Fundal massage and breastfeeding are even more important in preventing postpartum hemorrhaging in a home birth setting.
Pitocin is available in a home birth setting but isn’t routinely administered unless necessary.
Therefore, understanding how to perform a fundal massage and its benefits can be incredibly beneficial for those opting for a home birth.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does everyone get a fundal massage after birth?
No, not everyone receives a fundal massage after birth. Fundal massage is a procedure performed by healthcare professionals, typically midwives or nurses, to help the uterus contract and prevent excessive bleeding. It is commonly done when there is a risk of postpartum hemorrhage or when the healthcare provider determines it is necessary based on individual circumstances.
How long should you do fundal massages after birth?
Typically, fundal massages are performed immediately after childbirth and in the early postpartum period to aid in uterine involution and prevent excessive bleeding. The frequency and duration of the massages may decrease as the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size and the risk of complications decreases.
How is uterine massage done?
A uterine massage involves applying gentle pressure on the abdomen, specifically over the area where the uterus is located, which is known as the fundus. The healthcare provider uses their hands to feel the uterus and applies controlled movements to help it contract and reduce the risk of postpartum bleeding.
Can a pelvic massage induce labor?
While a pelvic massage is often used for relaxation and relieving discomfort during pregnancy, it is important to note that limited scientific evidence supports its effectiveness in inducing labor. Some anecdotal accounts suggest that certain massage techniques, including pelvic massage, may help stimulate contractions. However, consulting with a healthcare provider before attempting any methods to induce labor is crucial.
Fundal massage is a crucial practice in postpartum care. It aids in managing postpartum bleeding, supports uterine involution, and enhances postpartum well-being.
Remember, this is a small discomfort for the greater good – your health and recovery.
Take the time to understand this process, ask questions, and actively participate in your care.
The journey of pregnancy and childbirth is challenging, but with the right knowledge and support, you can navigate through it with confidence and grace.
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you read in this article.
- Hofmeyr, G. J., Abdel-Aleem, H., & Abdel-Aleem, M. A. (2013). Uterine massage for preventing postpartum hemorrhage. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2013(7), CD006431. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD006431.pub3
- Cleveland Clinic (2022, April 1). Uterus Involution. Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22655-uterus-involution
- What to Expect (2023, May 23). What Is Pitocin Induction? Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/labor-and-delivery/pitocin-induction/