Back home in Kerala (and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, and some parts of Asia, and Africa), the cultural norm is that the woman gets confined to her home for 30-40days after delivery, with a woman caretaker, who will come and bath and massage mom and baby every day. In Kerala, this massage is done with some special ayurvedic oils and the mother is also required to consume special herbal medicines, and put a particular kind of oil in her hair etc etc.
My biggest concern about the whole thing was that I didn’t necessarily see the benefits of it. And I didn’t see the value of paying someone to do a massage for so long, if they are not qualified for it, and hell no! I was not going to let my baby in the hands of someone who didn’t really know what they were doing.
Also, this is not a common practice in many parts of the world, and women from those regions seemed to be healthier and more fit than most new moms I see back home – be it in terms of physical and mental health and even body shape and such.
But with this topic, I ended up eating humble pie. I started out with a 10-day massage plan, which then became 15, and now I’ve asked her to do the whole nine yards and come for 30 days. And that wasn’t all, I went in for another ten days, and when I visited home (Bahrain), I went ahead and had a full week at the Ayurvedic clinic.
Here is why I think it helped: I am continuously carrying my bubs. And that is putting a strain on my arms, and back. Not because he is heavy; but simply because I am not used to it. I have not had to constantly carry anything in my arms in a particular way for any stretch of time. And walking around means there is pressure to my legs, calf muscles particularly in the first week. And finally, a massage is always relaxing and rejuvenating and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
Each day after the massage, she would help me bathe, and that included salt water pressure to help the stitches heal faster. She would then use a cotton sari to bind the stomach, and then put my maternity belt over it to hold it in place.
As for my baby, once I was convinced that the massage aunty knew what she was doing, it was easy to trust her with my bubs, and to learn from how she massages him and bathes him.
My massage lady, NK aunty has been in Qatar for over 16 years, and has been doing this for over ten years. Not only that, prior to that she was a midwife/maternity room nurse in Sri Lanka, and she moved to Qatar to work as a home nurse. She still stays with the same sponsors and does this work with their permission. The fact that she was a midwife gave me lots of confidence, and after one week of me getting massages, I felt safe to hand over my baby. I could also ask her about my stitches, and about my postpartum bleeding and she always gave me good advice.
She is an absolutely lovely woman, very firm hands for me, gentle and firm and extremely caring with my little angel and I would highly recommend her. Please feel free to ping me for her phone number. She doesn’t rush you, or the baby, doesn’t do a shoddy job just to get away quicker and I am thoroughly impressed. And based on my enquiries, her price is better than most of the others.
Although she recommended herbal oils, I stuck to almond oil for both baby and myself. And it worked great for us.
I have heard quite a few horror storied here in Qatar though – about how some ladies barge into the kitchen demanding that you use particular kind of oil, of how some others are always looking at the time, and will not even let you take a minute break to feed the baby. Some have even been known to curse the child, when their services are discontinued. So be careful.
The ayurvedic massages I had from the clinic in Bahrain were out of this world. I was not sure what to expect. We met with the doctor first who prescribed the treatment plan – and we could only do seven days.
So, the first day I get there, and figured that it would two versus one! There were two women doing the massage at the same time. And they would be using ayurvedic oils. I cannot understand it has such a strong pungent smell.
But it was a unique experience. The way the two masseuses were working in tandem. It almost felt like a choreographed performance. And the first time, I was thrown off by the pressure they were applying, especially on the tummy area. After the massage, they used a hot towel to sort of press the tummy in?
So, after all the debate and being vehemently anti-massages, I now say it is definitely a must. However, make sure that the lady who is doing the massage has some kind of medical training, and is patient and compassionate. You want this to be a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.