Having a baby comes with some health complications for both mother and child that can be cured with a little tender, loving care from a traditional masseuse with ‘healing’ hands
Rose Muthoni @rosemuthoniN
The period following a baby’s birth is often riddled with many challenges. Some are fade away with time while others need external help to alleviate. Some of the problems afflicting mothers include excessive bleeding after delivery, pain in the perineal area, discharge, swollen breasts and clogged ducts, slow letdown of milk, hemorrhoids and constipation, postpartum depression and difficulty regaining pre-pregnancy shape. The newborn also faces various challenges that add up to the troubles mothers have to deal with.
Although “sleep like a baby” is a common phrase with old folk, most times the baby has trouble sleeping. And then there is colic, a condition that leaves a baby crying throughtout the night.
Often crying occurs in the evening causing frustration for the parents, depression following delivery and excess visits to the doctor. Gastrointestinal discomfort or a swollen abdomen causes colic. Advances in science have helped with some of these problems, but the coastal people had long discovered a holistic treatment regime that not only helped the mother, but the baby as well – postpartum massage.
Mama Kandas, as they are fondly referred to use traditional techniques to alleviate pains and aches that come with delivery. Sabah Salim is one such masseuse. She visits mothers after delivery in the convenience of their homes for an all-needed massage.
“New mothers are unable to move around immediately after giving birth. I, therefore, visit and do the massages in their homes,” says Salim. Salim was introduced to the world of postpartum massage by her aunt after she had her baby.
“After having my daughter, I felt like a truck had run over me. It was a long labour and every part of my body ached, including my fingers,” she says. She was worried that she was sinking into postpartum depression. “After telling my aunt, she told me to follow her to the bathroom. After thoroughly cleaning it and lining it with a cloth, she told me to lie down,” she says.
Her aunt massaged her with a towel immersed in hot water, which she says, relaxed all of her muscles. Salim ventured into the masseuse business about three years ago and has seen the benefits that come with it.
“The massages completely relax the mother and the baby. Mothers often have aches and pains from bad posture resulting from long hours nursing the newborn. They complain of backaches and sore neck muscles.
A few massage sessions helps alleviate these pains,”she says. She often starts the massage with hot water and a towel, much like her aunt showed her. “It is uncomfortable at first, but the mother feels the benefits soon after.
I then move her to the bed for a full body massage using oil,” says Salim. The massage, together with a binding cloth, she says, help the tummy shrink by aiding fast healing of the abdominal muscles. The massage also helps with milk flow.
Salim often talks to her clients during the massage to help recognise early signs of baby blues. After the 45 minutes massage session, Salim moves on to the baby. “Most mothers do not know how to massage babies. That is where I come in.
I know what massage is necessary to alleviate discomfort and which massage will help the baby eliminate gas,” she says. After the massage, the baby often sleeps for long stretches of time. She also teaches mothers how to cook and the best foods for the baby once the mother is ready to wean.
“To help eliminate baby colic, mothers have to be particular about what they eat,” she says. Salim says mothers need seven to 14 sessions to fully benefit from the massage. “At Sh1,200 a session, this massage will make the first weeks of motherhood a breeze,” she concludes.