Mother and Baby Massage: Stories from Nepal

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I watched as the traditional birth attendant took the mustard oil, cinnamon and nutmeg and thoroughly massaged the baby’s body, face and head. This 15-day-old baby would enjoy these vigorous massages three times a day for six months. The baby’s mother, 23-year-old Dirkeno, also had her hair, neck and back massaged while her baby rested in the shelter made of bamboo sticks and cloth. 

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To ward off evil spirits, the baby had had kohl applied to her eyes and foreheads. When I met Dirkeno, she reported that she had not felt well since having given birth two weeks prior. She’d been experiencing pains and a loss of appetite, but as yet had not seen a doctor. Her husband, who was in the military, was away for the birth but he knew that the baby had been delivered. Although Dirkeno was in high spirits, her general malaise could have been a sign of complications related to her childbirth. Following discussion, she became aware of the need to visit the health clinic promptly. SafeHands, through the power of film, educates and draws awareness to the importance of accessing prenatal care, antenatal care and skilled attendance at birth.  

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Nancy Durrell McKenna is the Founder Director of SafeHands for Mothers. An award-winning photographer and film-maker, she has spent most of her professional life documenting the lives, traditions, and rituals of women and families around the world. 

© Nancy Durrell McKenna

Nancy Durell Mckenna