I knew then that a new battle is going to start between me and my mother when I had my first argument with her regarding the ‘massage’ of my baby which was then due some seven months later. My mother – the ultimate older generation and me – the self proclaimed, cool, new generation; were both getting geared for something we both knew was absolutely unavoidable. Both from different generations, with very different ideas and ideals about childcare and parenting; we were up for a a very different journey together.
See there are these in numerous thoughts that come to a pregnant woman’s mind about things she will do for the child and the things she will not. Then there are thousands of those advices by all those good hearted relatives and friends that are constantly floating around in the air and giving you company. Then there is the Internet, which has a lot more information to offer to you from various hosts. And then ultimately you have the two most important ladies – Your mother and your Mother In Law. (Even if they have a solid difference of opinion about everything else under the Sun – On this one topic, they will be on the same side – They will both assume that you are too young, with no earlier pregnancy experience to know anything about what to do about your pregnancy and your child – so you need an elderly person in the family to continuously guide you through it. For once they will both say – Do listen to the older women in the family and see what they have to say. They have delivered so many babies you see…. )
And trust me ‘Massagewali’ is one such sensitive conversation!! Two of my very close friends delivered in the last six months and both had to fight out their individual battles in convincing their family that after a month, they would themselves take charge of massaging the baby and giving their sons their joyful baths. Some years back, I was working on a commercial for J&J Baby Oil and my Director – who was a pro at childcare, who seem to have been a know-it-all, done-it-all, hands-on father – complaining to me about how the trend of having a ‘massagewali bai’ in India is so overrated and its better that the parents take up that duty themselves. Since then, this thought had kind of got stuck in my head and I wanted to have my say in this matter whenever I have my baby. So, finally when I did get pregnant, the first thought that came to my mind was about the ‘massage’ for the baby and my take on it. Just in a casual conversation when I shared my desire of doing it myself – in no time – the conversation soared up to being an argument and then a fight. My instant mental note was that I will have to first get my facts right before I take on any call in this matter. And so I went about inquiring with my friends and doctors and the internet. And all i could do was – compile point of views!! Not form one as yet!
What the Older Lot has to say –
- These are trained women, who have been doing this for many a years. They know which muscles to massage, which bones to press harder to shape them right!
- Across India, across cultures – people have been doing this for generations – has anything gone wrong with you or your husband – you both have got massage done from one of these ‘massagewalis’ only!
- Kids crying during massage is the most common thing ever – rather it is important that they cry – it’s an assurance that they are getting the needed pressure on their body!
- There are other ways for the Mother to bond with the child. It is a good heeling time for the mother and her body – when this important responsibility is taken over by someone who knows their job.
- The baby is too small for all your experiments – you don’t even know to hold it right – forget massage! What if the baby falls?
- We will find a neat and clean lady – and more so she will wash her hands well with hand wash and sanitiser before touching the baby and then the water will be hot and we will put in some Dettol in it – so there will be no infection from there.
What the Younger Lot has to say –
- Where have these women been trained?? We could also learn stuff from videos online.
- Across the globe, across cultures – mothers give massage to their children themselves – when you see the foreigners do you feel their anatomy didn’t shape up right because they didn’t get the ideal massage when they were born!
- I don’t want my kid to cry during a massage – I believe massage is about relaxation and not torture.
- It will serve to be a good bonding time between the mother and the child.
- I get scared the way she was handling my little one – rolling and tossing – what if the baby falls?
- They go and interact with a lot of kids whose hygiene standards you can’t monitor – what if she passes on some infection?
And then I found this article that was published in the Times of India where a senior gynaecologist has given her opinion on this matter. Please do read it for yourself.
I am still going to put up my fight against my mother – eventually upset her to do the massage my way. Or may be give her a week to find me someone who is good enough – till the time my body full recovers to fight and actually do the massage better.