Ayurvedic postnatal mama massage
by Faith Davis
Ayurvedic postnatal mama massage is an ancient Indian therapy that rejuvenates the body by drenching hard working tissues in nourishing warm oil, and soothes the mind with rhythmic strokes over the body. Wrapped in the bliss of warm oil, mamas can enjoy soothing the aches of pregnancy, birth and early motherhood away and ground back into their bodies. The session closes with time to rest, soak in the oil, and shower or bathe.
Massage may sound extravagant, but nourishing new mothers in the postpartum time is practiced in most traditional cultures around the world because of its positive impacts on emotional and physical wellness. Ayurvedic postpartum mama massage is especially restorative and cleansing, and when mothers experience loving touch, this can translate into the loving care of their newborn baby or babies. The repetition of strokes and the warmth and qualities of the oil also helps the body’s natural metabolites move through elimination channels which supports optimal functioning of all body systems. The relaxation and deep grounding is especially important for new mamas who are experiencing heightened anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress from pregnancy, birth and/or the transition to motherhood. And this massage is also heavenly to receive!
One client says of her experience,”I realized halfway through my postpartum warm oil massage that my body hadn’t felt so wonderful in over 9 months!! It was so uplifting and soothing right in the midst of the mess and pain of postpartum recovery.”
Benefits of Ayurvedic postnatal mama massage may include improved and abundant lactation, grounded mind and happy mood, increased circulation, deep rest, improved digestion and elimination. Ayurvedic postnatal mama massage is a beautiful, sacred and incredibly nourishing pause in the day to honor the powerful transitions in the new mother’s body, heart and mind.
Sanctuary Doulas likes to include one or more Ayurvedic postnatal mama massage in our client’s postpartum doula care. We welcome babies to join us in the session or to stay in a nearby room with a friend, grandparent, or partner (because everybody wants to hold the baby!) while mamas totally relax on the massage table. Nursing babies sometimes join on the table, and when a baby is alert and the moment is right, we make time for one or both parents to learn infant massage before or after mama’s massage while we have the warm oil, table, and towels ready.
Another Sanctuary Doula client says, “Faith was amazing 4 days postpartum. She came to my home for a 4 hour home visit including a Ayurvedic postnatal massage. It was exactly what I needed to help fight those baby blues. I felt cared for and very relaxed at the end. Toward the end of our session, my two older toddlers came home and she didn’t skip a beat, answering all their questions and let them watch as she packed up her table and all her supplies afterwards. She is truly great at what she does, and it shows.”
Sanctuary Doulas founder Michele Kolakowski loves to remind families about how important massage is in postnatal care – a healthy and necessary treatment in the postpartum transition and not a luxury. For perspective, many cultures around the world practice massage rituals for new mothers to nourish, nurture and revitalize the mother after pregnancy and birth and to help her adjust to the new work of caring for a baby. In the Ayurvedic tradition from India, mothers receive daily warm-oil massages from a specially trained woman to soothe mothers’ nerves by calming the excess vata (wind) after birth. Malaysians practice mengurut badan, massaging from head to toe with an herbal oil and a focus on abdominal care, which they believe helps circulation and prevents muscle cramps. On Africa’s Ivory Coast, female relatives arrive at the new mother’s home, where she is bathed and massaged in a healing shea butter by her own mother! In Asian cultures, women enjoy the zuo yuezi experience with acupressure massages with moxibustion as often as they wish.
Ayurvedic postnatal mama massages and regular postnatal massage are available exclusively for our Sanctuary Postpartum Doula Care clients – both mothers and partners – during Faith’s 4 hour postpartum doula care day home visits. For more information, please visit Sanctuary Doulas.
Q. Why are you called to serve as a postpartum doula?
In my massage practice as well as in my role as a postpartum doula, I am called to support in moments of transition. I love to walk into a new family’s house – some days in utter chaos and others in complete bliss – to pause in the moment with a person or family and witness what is true in that very moment. When I first began studying the care of new families, I attended a talk with Kate Kripke LCSW. She spoke about the role of community support during the first six weeks postpartum in managing and preventing Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. At the time I was seeing my massage clients at home and in my office in the weeks after birth, and I also saw many mamas and babes after 6 weeks in my mom-baby yoga classes, but I knew that I wanted to go beyond massage and yoga with families into the richness of supporting families at home after the arrival of a new baby.
Q. What has your experience working with families taught you?
That there are thousands of ways to be an amazing parent. (And that sometimes finding and trusting your particular way of being an amazing parent can be a challenge!)
Q. Within your postpartum doula scope of practice, what are your specialties and passions?
I love the variety that every new day with a new family provides, but some of my favorite ways to nourish new families are with delicious meals and tucking parents in for much-needed naps (foot massage included!). My passion is for helping parents find their unique way of getting to know, loving, and caring for their baby that goes beyond expert advice into the core of who they are as a person. This becomes about knowing it’s okay to bring all of themselves to parenting – not just the perfectionist, the business person, or the mythically always-happy-mama – but also the pre-coffee, grumpy, sleep-deprived, hungry side.
Q. Why do you choose to work with Sanctuary Doulas? From your perspective, how does our work as a group benefits new families?
I believe in the power of collaboration. That means new families are collaborating with doulas, family, and friends for support as they welcome a new baby, and it also means me collaborating with other professional women as compassionate and highly skilled as the women of Sanctuary Doulas. I can serve new families better as a part of this amazing group of doulas than I can on my own. I love the opportunity for new families to work with all our doulas’ different specialties from birth processing to massage therapy to feeding babies and beyond.