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Mauritius – Cultural Heritage: Dhai Maa and her postnatal massages

What was long ago very common in most of villages in Mauritius and could be found quite easily, Dhai Maa, is normally an elderly woman who is solicited after the birth of a newborn child to give body massages to the new mum.postnatal massages With her much-experienced hands and traditional Indian methods which she had learnt from her own mother, she would relieve the exhausted mum from postnatal pain. At first, I was a bit reluctant, but got convinced as she explained that my body had gone through a lot of changes after childbirth, and that it was normal to feel body aches and soreness. Her massages would help to release the muscle tension and redistribute the water within the body to reduce swellings.

postnatal massages

Dhai Maa came for nine consecutive days for the body massages. She requested warm oil, a long piece of cloth and a few stones. I could not imagine that some massages that were offered in our hotels’ luxury spas in Mauritius, got their roots from traditional rituals delivered by Dhai Maa. Indeed, she offered a complete body massage for over an hour and put hot stones on my lower back. Astonishingly, I felt a great relief as she applied pressure on strategic points. She ended by fastening a long piece of cloth over my belly (which she called Belly binding) and asked me to rest. She explained that childbirth had shifted my womb and organs in the abdominal cavity and these postnatal massages would aid in repositioning them to where they were. Completely relaxed, I felt so good and found myself dozing off in a light sleep. I realized that the delivery had affected me both physically and mentally. The massages have significantly reduced my muscle tensions and stress levels enhancing my sleep quality greatly.

postnatal massages

I waited impatiently for Dhai Maa’ s magic massages each day and enjoyed talking to her. During our conversations I learned about our past traditions, whereby after childbirth, a woman would stay at home for approximately 6 weeks/40 days, a period of “confinement” during which she was cared for and pampered by her own mother or other female relatives. She had to follow a certain diet, specifically tailored to her body ‘s needs. It was a real comfort for me to have our elders’ experience, a 5000-year-old Indian postpartum healing tradition.

Zafi

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