05. 09. 2023

From birth, babies can receive massages, to soothe them and help them learn about the extent of their bodies. It's a moment of sharing between parents and children. Enfance Paris has gathered together for you the expertise of Olivia Despret, a psychometrist by training, who has now reconverted to working with pregnant women and newborns. She has agreed to share her expertise with us, giving us invaluable advice on how to massage your baby and spend an excellent moment with him or her.

Hello Olivia, thank you for accepting our invitation. Can you introduce yourself and your profession?

I am qualified as a psychometrician and have been working with the touch for 20 years. I used to work in geriatrics in a hospital. When I had my first child, I discovered the world of maternity. I wanted to build on my skills and get in touch with parents, mothers and babies. I set up my own business around baby massage and baby portage, as well as pregnancy support, such as massage for pregnant women. I felt there was a need in this sector. I have my own studio, but I also travel to people's homes, depending on the service required.

Present your job in 5 words?

Caring, accompanying, supporting, relationships, body/skin

At what age do you recommend massage for babies?

From birth, because the sense of touch is effective from birth. During pregnancy, the baby is constantly massaged in the belly, cradled and touched by the amniotic fluid and the uterus lining. His sense of touch is constantly stimulated during pregnancy. To begin with, parents can simply apply pressure by placing both hands on the child's belly, torso or head. Massage allows the child to discover his or her body. I recommend massages for around ten minutes, so that the baby remains connected to his parents all the way through. As soon as baby starts to show signs of tiredness or irritation, it's important to stop the massage in order to not lose the benefits gained during the massage.

Can you tell me more about Shantala baby massage?

Shantala massage is an ancient Indian art introduced to the Occident by Dr. Frédérick Leboyer in the 50s. It's a pleasant massage to give, a moment of sharing between parent and baby. The gestures of this massage are fluid, intuitive and enveloping. I guide the parents, but I'm not there to correct their gestures. I'm there to give them confidence throughout the massage, so that they're not afraid to reproduce the gestures at home.

What symptoms do you generally see babies for?

In general, parents come for a moment of pleasure with their baby. But I also see parents looking for solutions for their babies who have problems with digestion or sleeping.

Have you seen any results in children since you started practicing?

Yes, thanks to regular massages and over the long term, there is an improvement in symptoms. Babies have had an improvement in sleep and digestion, but also in muscle tone. Massage releases hormones, particularly anti-stress and happiness hormones.

For teething babies, is there an area to massage that helps relieve the gums of babies?

Yes, in reflexology, the teething zone is located on the toes, the head and all the senses also. It is possible to massage the toes to relieve teething, but I've never had any feedback on how effective this is, as parents generally use other means of relieving teething problems. Is it the massage that works or the other aids, it's complicated to know...

Do you have a professional anecdote to share with us?

I usually work with young babies. Babies of 1 year and a half already have greater mobility and are sometimes less receptive to massage. One day, I welcomed an 18-month-old child accompanied by his father. The workshop was a gift from the mother to help them discover each other. Surprisingly, the child was very receptive to the massage for about ten minutes. Then he started to be less present and decided to stop the massage, he went around the room and came back to his dad to give him a huge hug, it was his way of thanking him. I found it very touching, and I have very pleasant memories of it. Do you use oil during your baby massage sessions? Yes, babies have very fine skin, and without oil it can be irritating for them. I use organic vegetable oils. Is there anything else you would like to add? Yes, to initiate parents, I recommend starting with the 3 soothing zones: hands, feet and head. To begin with the hands, make circles in the palms of the hands, a gesture that is extremely reassuring for the child. Similarly, for the feet, make circles on the soles of the feet. For the head, make large circles with your hands flat on the skull. Don't be afraid to pass over the fontanelle, as this is an area that can receive contact without any problem.

We would like to thank Olvia for this interview! You can discover more about Olivia on her website