The story of my coming into motherhood is one that should be written down. Not because of the year I spent trying to get pregnant but because it could help so many other mothers that have to go through the monthly tears of the oncoming flow. I was struggling with infertility for over a year, and when I was ready to give up, I found the answer I didn’t even know I was looking for. I learned about an ancient tradition of abdominal massage, which turned my monthly tears of loss into the tears of joy.
My husband and I were working in Cancun, Mexico when we went to visit friends that lived in a little town right on a precious lagoon. Our friends told me it was time that I visited the local midwife, Dona Emilia Rosado Torres. We walked up to a little blue house and knocked on the door; the smell of chicken was wafting from the kitchen. This little woman came to the front step with skin that was aged and burnt from the sun and Dona Emilia introduced herself. She smiled and asked me to come inside. The dirt- floored room had just a wooden table, chair and small alter. Dona Emilia asked me to undress expect for my underwear and to lie on the wooden table as she instantly started to feel around my body, from my head all the way down to my toes. Her hands were strong and full of power for a woman of 79 years old.
Dona Emilia did not ask any questions or speak, her hands seemed to know what the problem was and how to fix it. After half and hour she finally began to speak in her Mayan-Spanish dialect, “Your uterus was stuck to your spine, this is why you have not been able to have children.” She continued with her Mayan massage using herbal infused oils. My husband watched as this woman performed her magic, being the skeptic that he is, he was being noticeably quiet. After another half hour she asked me to get dressed. She then spoke, “my child you will not see blood this month, and if you do, then next month there will be no blood.” Tear filled my eyes and overflowed onto my shirt and then the floor. These words were the happiest words I could have ever heard!
Two months later the words of Dona Emilia replayed mentally, as there was no blood. My child was born 9 months later. My massage in Mexico included a Mayan Abdominal Massage, an ancient technique used to reposition the displaced uterus. According to the Maya, if a woman has her uterus out of place so will be her entire being. Once returning the uterus to its proper place a balance will be formed in the body-and in my case, fertility.
What was the cause of my infertility? Most of the gynecologists that I visited in New York City, NY., told me that my uterus was tipped but that this was not the cause of the infertility. I was put on thyroid medicine to regulate my hormones, although this treatment did not work. I had a history of menstrual cramps and what some doctors called Endometriosis. There were so many different names given for the simple reality that my uterus was out of place. The more research that I did after the Maya Massage the more women I found with retro-verted uterus and that this issue could contribute to my inability to conceive.
The following is an in depth view into what I have found about Abdominal Massage. It is an external massage that increases the flow of blood, lymph, nerve, and energy within the body. These techniques have been passed down through the midwives of Central America, Africa, Egypt, and China. Today there are thousands of midwifes all around the world that continue to practice this technique, most of whom are living in small rural communities. The local women from these communities only know the hands of the local midwife not those of medical doctors. (Arvigo, Epstein, Yaquinto 1994)
There are many causes for uterine displacement. It may seem like a surprising list, but some of them include: falls that impact the lower back, sacrum and tailbone; car accidents; ligaments weakened due to overstretching during pregnancy and labor; bad professional care during pregnancy, labor and delivery; carrying heavy burdens during pregnancy or too soon after delivery; walking barefoot on cold floors and/or wet grass; wearing high heeled shoes; chronic constipation; weak pelvic floor muscles; surgeries; carrying children on hips for long periods of time. (Arvigo, Epstein, Yaquinto 1994)
These above mentioned causes manifest in the body as: painful or irregular periods, dark- thick fluids at the beginning & end of menses, blood clots, no menstruation,headaches/ dizziness with menses,varicose veins, tired legs, numb feet/ sore heels, lower back ache,infertility, Endometriosis, uterine polyps, painful intercourse, PMS, uterine infections, frequent urination, ovarian cysts, vaginitis, hormonal imbalances, difficult pregnancy & delivery, weak newborn infants, premature deliveries, IBS, and difficult menopause or peri-menopause.
Modern medicine has two tracks when dealing with these concerns. They either suggest pharmaceuticals or surgeries to “heal” these above-mentioned complaints or they simply tell the patient there is nothing to worry about. Both of these paths leave women with unanswered questions and un-resolved symptoms. (Arvigo, Epstein & Yaquinto 1994)
If I had not been one of those women with terrible menstrual cramps, infertility, and a feeling of helplessness, I would not have had this first hand experience and the desire to share it. After returning to tell Dona Emilia that I was pregnant, she just smiled and patted my hand as if she had healed many people during her long life. This led me to interview Dona Emilia as if I had discovered magic along my path towards mother-hood.
The following is a brief summary of an interview had with Dona Emilia Rosado Torres March 27, 2010. She was born on May 30th, 1930 in the Yucatan, Mexico. She began attending births at age 30 without any experience except the birth of her own three children and the help of a traditional midwife. After her births she immediately attended a certification course offered by the National Secretary of Health in Mexico. During her time as a student while she slept she began to receive information about medicinal plants and traditional massage in her dreams. In waking hours she had the opportunity to practice her newfound art with a growing stream of clients who arrived at her doorstep. At the current age of 80 she still has a thriving midwifery practice in her home.
Dona Emilia performs abdominal massage on men and women for a variety of reasons and explains that it is a tonic treatment for almost anyone. The Maya people still visit a traditional midwife for massage after suffering a fall because they believe that the internal organs need to be massaged back into place. Women visit their midwives several times during pregnancy to assure that their growing baby maintains a good position for the pregnancy and birth and also have a postpartum massage to ensure that the uterus returns to it’s optimal position.
Dona Emilia is especially renown for pre-pregnancy massage to encourage fertility, of course I can attest to this. She can recount many stories of ecstatic women who’ve finally conceived a month or two after a single session with her, many who’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for years! She credits her success to a deep understanding of the different functional issues that can affect women’s pelvic circulation. In cases where the blood is “pasmada” (a condition that comes from ‘cold’ exposure in which the blood flow is stagnant and tends towards dark clots), she’ll recommend a combination of herbs and massage. In other cases, a simple repositioning of the uterus will work like magic.
Mayan Abdominal Massage is important for doctors, midwives, and women with non-professional training to learn. I have the unique opportunity to welcome this traditional Mayan midwife, Dona Emilia Rosado Torres, to New Zealand to give a training course on these simple techniques to help women.
This article was written to open the eyes to many women of the choices that we have to help ourselves. I am conducting a survey to see if this training would be of interest to any persons here in Hong Kong.
Arivgo, R., Epstein, N., Yaquinto, M. (1994). Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer: San Francisco, Harpers San Francisco.