Hugs And Snugs: Bringing Postpartum Care Back To The Forefront - Eastern Mirror
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Hugs and Snugs: Bringing postpartum care back to the forefront

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By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: May 23, 2024 12:06 am
Hugs and Snugs

DIMAPUR — All over the world, cultures and nations have unique traditions and rituals surrounding childbirth, designed to support and heal new mothers and babies as they transition into their new phase of life. This period, known as the postnatal or postpartum, is a time of significant physical and emotional recovery for the new mother.

Childbirth marks a major life cycle transition for women, regardless of their culture, and these rituals often acknowledge and support this shift.

Vitono Savi, better known as Atu, is a mother of four who is passionate about prioritising maternal care during the postpartum period. Having experienced the transformative journey of motherhood firsthand, her interest in maternal and infant care has led her to create “Hugs and Snugs,” a social media account where women across Nagaland can reach out to her for support and guidance.

A registered nurse with a B.Sc. in Nursing from the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) in Shillong, Atu has also completed a course in Infant Massage and Postpartum Massage in Mumbai. She has worked briefly at TATA Hospital in Kolkata and Bethel Hospital in Kohima, gaining valuable experience in healthcare.

Speaking to Eastern Mirror, the nurse said that she was interested in postpartum and infant care even before she became a mother.

“It was an intuitive interest and my interest has always been with maternal and child health,” she said, adding that her inspiration came from her family’s legacy, as her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were all practitioners of postpartum care. 

Her decade of experience as a nurse also comes in handy as she understands the human anatomy and physiology, providing a strong foundation for her work.

Hugs and Snugs

Atu initially offered her services discreetly, but recognising the need for postpartum care and the benefits of her work, her family and friends encouraged her to reach out to a wider audience. This led to the creation of “Hugs and Snugs” on social media.

“Since our society does not give much importance to postpartum massage or even understand its value, I was hesitant about how people would respond to my services,” she admitted.

“I was concerned about acceptance. Our society is not yet open to this practice, even though our ancestors practiced infant massage,” she said, adding that her training was focussed on modern techniques but she blends traditional and modern knowledge.

However, she said her apprehension and doubts were overcome with the support from her mother, siblings and her husband.

“The response has been unexpected and I was taken aback realising the need for postpartum and infant massage and the amount of people seeking appointment. But I take only one client a day as I want to give my full time for a client and also want to advocate for postpartum massage and care,” she said.

Postpartum massage and motherhood

According to Atu, postpartum is a totally different phase for a woman’s body and health. “Our bones become weak and there are certain areas where we should not do deep tissue massage. It will not be the same as spa massage. Postpartum massage is a full body massage that can transition woman into motherhood by offering both physical and emotional benefit,” she explained.

She also provides services beyond new mothers, offering postpartum massage to those who have experienced an unsuccessful delivery, such as a miscarriage. These mothers are the ones who really need this care, as it can heal them physically and emotionally,” she maintained.

Expounding on the benefits of postpartum massage, she said that it is a therapeutic way to relax, improve circulation and promote better sleep. ‘It also enhances breastfeeding and studies are also there to support that postpartum massage increases prolactin levels. It also helps in coping postpartum blues,’ she said.

“Prenatal massage can also be done and the benefits are almost the same although the pressure point may differ. Prenatal massage also helps in safe delivery,” she added.

Detailing the recommended timing for massage, she said: “New mothers can begin massage four days after delivery or when they feel comfortable moving around. This is sometimes called labour recovery massage. For C-section mothers, massage is usually recommended after six weeks.”

Misconceptions

Despite the benefits, Atu said there are misconceptions surrounding postpartum and infant massage.

While many believe that postpartum massage may lead to heavy bleeding and swelling, it is the opposite, if done correctly and at the right time. There is also a misconception that infant massage can shape the nose or other body parts of the new born baby, she said.

She went on to explain that rigorous massage, which some people believe is good for newborns, is not recommended.

“It can actually harm the baby and cause pain instead of relaxation,” she said, adding that infant massage is not recommended when the baby’s umbilical cord is not dry and when the baby has jaundice or fever, as overstimulation can exacerbate these conditions.

The benefits of infant massage are that it improves sleep, promotes positive interaction with the baby, has soothing and calming effects, and boosts the immune system.

For mothers, she does not encourage postpartum massage when the wounds are not healed or when there are skin conditions and high blood pressure, as too much stimulation may lead to increase in blood pressure.

Atu said she is aware that postpartum massage can be expensive for some mothers. So, she teaches basic massage techniques to her clients, allowing them to provide self-care at home when necessary.

Importance of postpartum care

Beyond physical benefits, Atu highlighted the importance of addressing the mental and emotional stress women experience after childbirth. Anxiety, mood swings, postpartum blues, and, in extreme cases, postpartum psychosis are common challenges for mothers.

“The world is turned upside down for them and they are not able to cope up with the new changes,” she pointed out.

From her experience, she noted that there is prevalence of postpartum anxiety and blues among her clients in Nagaland, especially among women who have unsupportive families. Very often, such signs are not recognised or acknowledged, and instead, the mothers are judged for not wanting to take care of their newborn child, she maintained.

Emphasising the importance of open communication and emotional support, she said, “When we talk to mothers, they feel much better. When they can vent and express their feelings, we can understand what they are going through and help them work through their suppressed emotions. These suppressed emotions harm not only the mother but also the baby. It’s amazing to see that when a mother is sad or anxious, her baby also becomes restless. They are directly connected.”

Further, with the encouraging response from clients since she started “Hugs and Snugs”, she felt that this practise is being embraced by the community.

People are becoming more aware of its benefits, more so because it is being practised in Asian countries like Japan, China to name a few, and young mothers are also well aware of its benefits and advantages, she added.

Encouraging the women to seek help when they have health issues, she said: “It’s your body, and no one knows or understands what you are going through better than you.”

She went on to say that recognising and addressing the importance of postpartum care for mothers is essential to promote holistic family health and well-being.

“I want to continue to advocate for maternal and child wellbeing. It is one of my dreams. Women go through a difficult time during the postpartum period, experiencing mom guilt and depression. When we feel low, it harms our young ones, so if you go through any issues, you should reach out,” she said.

Atu’s ultimate goal behind “Hugs and Snugs” is to empower all mothers, whether single, working, or homemakers, to prioritise self-care, seek support and focus on their wellbeing.  

6107
By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: May 23, 2024 12:06:07 am
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