Massage for the Sole and Soul

A massage for many a new mum is the ultimate in heavenly, hormone-boosting, stress-busting care. Even now, merely writing the word "massage" is luxurious. In Indian Ayurvedic tradition, a new mum is to be massaged with warm oil every day for FORTY DAYS after the birth of her child. This is considered essential, not indulgent! There are many purposes of this daily massage in this tradition, including warming and grounding mum. As discussed in my previous blog, postpartum women are considered to be particularly prone to an abundance of "air" and "space", and lacking in "fire" and "earth". As an activity that increases feelings of relaxation and love, massage is likely to work on reducing stress hormones and building oxytocin (the hormone of bonding and love). If mum can feel rejuvenated, get better quality sleep and minimise stress, her bonding with her baby (and in her other close relationships) and milk supply are likely to be enhanced.

A daily massage for forty days! Just imagine it... 

Unless you have a massage therapist in your household, a daily formal massage is probably off the cards. Massage from a partner or support person is a gorgeous alternative. Nurturing touch is a nice way to build connection at a tine when the birth mother's brain is geared very differently to those around her (that is a big topic for another time) and verbal communication can be strained. Perhaps you could even involve your older child in your care and have them give you a foot rub with oil just before their own bath time. When all other options are exhausted, hand the baby to someone else for a few minutes and get stuck into self-massage.

While you can massage toes to top if you like, self-massaging the feet is the best place to start. Again, the idea is that your feet are "grounding" you to the earth, and creating a balanced foundation emotionally, physically and spiritually from which you can navigate this transformational time of your life.

Before you start, grab some oil and warm it up until it's above body temperature but not enough to burn. To do this you can place a little bottle of oil in warm water or heat the oil in an oil burner above a candle (do not put oil in the microwave, mix water and oil directly or endanger baby in any way!). Any oil you like is fine, however if you want to make this a particularly special ritual for your postpartum, sesame oil is recommended. In another interesting agreement between ancient postpartum traditions, sesame is believed to have particularly strong bearing on reducing airiness, rejuvenating life force energies and the rebuilding the reproductive system in both Indian Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine-based care. Many recipes involve sesame seeds (specifically black sesame seeds) for this reason - if you're going to sprinkle them on your food grind them up to get to the goodness first, otherwise they'll pass through your body whole. 

Once your oil is warm, make sure you are too. Position yourself in front of the heater or under bathroom heat lights. Dress warmly and have thick socks nearby ready to put on afterwards.

Coat fingers and palms of both hands with warm oil and move in sweeping motions gently across all the surfaces of one foot and ankle. This is a nurturing touch, not a firm massage with therapeutic aims, so don't press hard. Build up warmth by quickly rubbing your palm up and down your sole. Move to the top of the foot and use your thumbs to gently slide down the gaps between the bones from ankle to toes, repeating this action for a minute or so. Massage the toes and gaps between them, then do sweeping soft movements across the whole ankle, top surface, toes and sole. You can do this with both hands or separately with one hand following the other. When you've finished that foot, pop your sock on and start on the other side. Ideally aim to spend 5-10 minutes on each foot. 

Enjoy your massage or self-massage without guilt. Remember, mother-care is essential not indulgent!


Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!