Learning these ancient practices came so very naturally to me. The first time I saw a postpartum bath, massage and rebozo work, it was as if I had traveled back into time. On a deep cellular level I understood the process and could see and feel the energetic work that was being done. My teachers and elders tell me that this is what is called “genetic memory.” I thank all my grandmothers and especially Abuela Petra (partera), for leaving this imprinted within me.
In Mexico and most of Latin America you hear about the 40 day (cuarentena) lying in period. This practice varies from county to country, region to region and midwife to midwife. There is no one way of performing these practices. Depending where you live you might have access some some plants and not to others. This period is the remnant of a much deeper postpartum practice. Today in the modern birthing world you may hear of it as Mother Warming, Mother Roasting, Mothering Ceremony, Bone Closing or as I call Postpartum Sealing Ceremony. In Spanish it’s called “Cerrada Postparto,” a postpartum closing. It marks the end of a powerful cycle in our lives.
I practice the Mexican way of ‘Cerradas Postparto’ which has a high emphasis on re-introducing warmth back into the body and sealing the body so as not to allow coldness to enter. Traditionally, mothers are told not to walk on the cold floor, to cover their heads and keep their chest and backs covered. Only drinks and food that are warm in nature are allowed to be consumed.
Energetically bringing warmth back to the mother translates to loving the mother. Hence why some call it a Mothering Ceremony, because it allows us to hold the Mother, mother the mother, love the mother.
This service can also be for mothers who are still recovering from traumatic births no matter how long ago they occurred. This process is beneficial to any woman who has experienced a strong opening in her womb area. In Mexico we called this “Frio en el vientre.” This can occur during cesarean birth, sexual assault, miscarriages, and childbirth.
In my practice I spend 2-3 hours working on the woman in the privacy of her own home. Often women can use this process to meditate on their birth experience and if dealing with trauma this process can be of a great release and provide much healing.
The process begins with a 20 minute Yoni (Vaginal) Steam Bath. The steam bath on its own is such a simple way to bring warmth and healing and it helps with countless yoni ailments. I make a nice calming tea for the mother to drink while she sits over the YSB and reflects on anything that may come to her.
Immediately after the YSB, I bathe the mother in a bathtub with freshly harvested warming herbs. The bath is a modification of traditional Mexican Temazcal or what is known as a ‘Sweat Lodge’ by the Northern Native Peoples. Mexican Parteras (midwives) made use of Temazcales during births and for postpartum healing. Many of my clients rave that this is their favorite part of the process!
The Temazcal represents the womb: when you are in the womb, you are warm, protected, and nourished, and when you leave the womb you are born – or in this case, reborn. Clients tell me that when they are being bathed they feel as if they are the baby being taken care of and that’s exactly the purpose.
I then give a gentle full body massage with a special herbal oil to help seal the body. The final sealing process involves a Rebozo, which some call the ‘Bone Closing Ceremony.’ I use the Rebozo to gently close the mother’s bones, beginning at the feet and ending at the head. The rebozo closing can be a profound experience for some mothers. It is an important process that helps contain and realign the mother physically and energetically.
The final touch is a gentle womb massage and belly binding with traditional abdominal bandages. This is done in the late evening so that the mother can go straight to bed for the night.
There is a certain energetic and even magical process occurring simultaneously with the Postpartum Sealing. It is difficult for me to explain… I simply sit quietly, observe and hold the space for the mother’s healing process. For some mothers, they feel the healing occurs during the VSB, others have an emotional release during the bath or Bone Closing. While others simply feel pampered and loved. Nonetheless it’s one of my favorite ways of showing a new mother how much she is loved.
Tema was our amazing doula that was there for the birth of our first daughter. When I was expecting again I reached out to her right away to be our doula again. Sadly this pregnancy did not have the same happy ending and we lost our little boy around 17 weeks. Tema offered to perform mother warming to heal my womb. It truly was a profound experience that moved me along in my healing process of losing our little one. It was very intimate practice that Tema implements with grace and power. ~ Kristina H.
Tema is a wonderful Doula! She helped me to achieve my VBA2C. The love and care she gives is very special. She is a friend and a mother to you. Very wise Doula. She helped me heal faster with the herbal bath and wrapping my belly, the womb blessing helped me to release all the hidden emotions I had after my daughter’s birth. I will be more than happy to work with her again and recommend to my friends. ~ Betty A.
I’ve had the pleasure and honor of watching Tema become the exceptional doula she is today… from our first child to our most recent, and she is absolutely perfect for this role. After my last child was born she performed the mother warming and sealing during a home visit. Simply stated – it was wonderful, relaxing and felt good to a new mothers soul! ~ Adriana