Back in the day, a malish wali was synonymous with newborn/ pediatric care. She would traipse into the house, tuck her sari behind her hip and draw her pint-sized client into a vigorous oil massage. Of course, the routine – meant to stimulate blood flow and promote tactile sensitivity – would be met by sonorous wails from her reluctant, lap-laden, little guest. Every home, same story.
Malish is a time-honoured tradition in India, heavily rooted in science. The practice doesn’t only serve as therapy for newborns, it also aids in physiological functioning, bonding, relief and relaxation. Here are 5 scientific reasons you should consider introducing massage to your newborn’s roster if you haven’t already.
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There’s a reason your baby is placed on your chest just after you’ve given birth. The skin-to-skin contact you establish in those early moments paves the way for a potent language between mother and baby; one that can only be communicated through touch. The power of tactile communication can be priceless for a new mother, working magical charms to conjure away crankiness, discomfort and irritability, and impart comfort and a sense of familiarity in her newborn.
2. Need Recognition
Massaging your baby is an intimate experience that can help you recognise subtle cues and behaviours that you might not notice otherwise. In turn, you can develop a sense of conviction and self-reliance in knowing how to respond adequately to your baby’s needs.
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3. Physiological Aids
Massages can fortify your baby’s blood circulation, respiratory system and digestion, and promote overall development.
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4. Soothing Effect
Your baby’s nervous system can be tranquilised through soothing massages, by way of the happiness hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin can have an uplifting effect on your baby, lowering anxiety and infusing a sense of calm.
5. Relaxation & Revitalisation
There’s no easier way to lull a crying baby into a sleepy trance than with a massage. Massaging can help your little one’s muscles relax, nourish their skin and vitalise their circulatory system. It can also ease discomfort, constipation, wind and colic, especially when performed on the tummy.
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As a millennial mom, it’s worth losing the malish wali to become your baby’s personal masseuse. Massage sessions can be a beautiful window to one-on-one time with your little darling, and lend to memories you will cherish for a lifetime.
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