What is a Fundal Massage?
When the Nurse Comes In Right After Birth…
A fundal massage, also known as a uterine massage, is a normal part of after-delivery care. This typically happens shortly after birth and can continue for hours or days depending on the needs of the patient.
Who doesn’t want a massage after the labor of bringing another human into the world?
When Do You Get a Fundal Massage?
A uterine massage often happens while you are doing skin to skin with your newborn and is done in order to prevent postpartum hemorrhaging. Chances are, if you’ve had massages throughout your life, most of them were not near your pelvic bone and uterus. This massage is also described as “rougher” than massages you may be used to as your doctor, nurse or midwife works to stimulate the uterus.
Stimulating the uterus to contract is important to help rid the body of blood clots and help it to move into the post-birth processes needed for recovery. Your medical provider will also place one hand in the vagina to support the uterus.
The name “fundal massage” comes from “fundus” which is the top of your uterus. The uterus is an organ in which the fertilized egg is implanted. The uterus grows throughout pregnancy and upon delivery, will transition back to its’ normal size.
Postpartum hemorrhaging refers to the excess loss of blood following childbirth and occurs in 1-5% of birthing women. Hemorrhaging causes a drop in blood pressure, which the body is not prepared for. Fundal/Uterine massages as well as other preventive measures are done to decrease the chances of hemorrhaging after giving birth. Fundal Massages happen after vaginal birth, cesarean birth, miscarriage and abortions. Any time that a pregnancy comes to an end, the uterus needs to contract and heal. You will likely receive fundal messages from your medical team (and if you don’t, it’s a good time to ask why you are not!) and you may be instructed on how to perform a uterine massage yourself.
Some women will only need uterine massages for the first couple of hours after birth. Some women will continue to receive these massages for a couple of days as the body discards blood and tissue following birth.
There are many aspects to care after childbirth and it is important to talk with your medical provider about what to expect and what kind of care you can anticipate. It is also important to talk to your support person about how to help you through birth and beyond.
Related: Postpartum Bleeding