Ya'll, I'd never even heard of a womb massage until recently, much less did I realize it was an ancient and beautiful tradition of my own heritage. It wasn't something that was on my radar as a part of my physical (and emotional) self care, nor something that I would've probably ever even pursued if it wasn't for my soul sister Brandi (of Kindred Photographer and FolkWomban) beginning her journey into becoming an herbalist and womb healer and inviting me to be a part of it. She's studying with Mayte of Centered Doula Care in Dallas, Texas, whose wisdom and love for women's wellness were passed on to her from her ascendants, who learned from their ascendants, in a Mexican tradition of womb care that transcends the mainstream version of women's health.
I showed up this morning not having a clue what to expect. I didn't know what a womb massage, or sobada de matriz, entailed. I certainly didn't expect to leave with so many damn FEELINGS. After raw milk lattes (because duh,) we headed into the backyard of Doctora Lexi's to enjoy the sunshine and let the children play around us while Mayte prepared the bed and her handmade herbal oils, a recipe which she is proud of and confident in. The smell was grounding and comforting. Now, I am familiar with strong, knowing hands seeking out the edges of my womb and pressing for the shape and pulse and growth - my midwife did this often during each of my pregnancies. I've been pregnant three times, once to just 15 weeks, the other two to 38 and some. This was the first time in my life someone dedicated an hour to my uterus and its wellbeing, touching, massaging, checking in. It was made all the more beautiful by my girls stopping in to kiss me or ask for a snuggle while we worked.
Mayte shared with me her findings. My uterus was shifted slightly to my left side, and tilted a little back on the right. Both of these things were corrected by the end of my session. Shorter Fallopian tubes meant lower ovaries, which were inflamed because of where I am in my cycle. She showed me how to feel for the dimensions of my uterus, how to feel my ovaries, how to massage myself during different stages of my cycle. She gave Brandi the opportunity to feel all these things as well, imparting her understanding of my anatomy to this woman who will no doubt become a gifted healer herself. We talked about my reproductive history, my cyclical tendencies, and my troubles with pain during ovulation. She gave me insight and comfort in my own body, a wealth of tailored-to-me womb wisdom I didn't even know I was lacking, or seeking. Feeling these warm, steady, love-filled hands on my abdomen, speaking truths about my experience... I didn't expect to be moved. I didn't expect to feel soothed and nurtured, like a normal massage but with more intention, more personal.
Halfway through, they spent a bit of time on a section of my uterus that felt different, rough and tight. A scar, Mayte said. Nothing came to mind... but then Brandi said it. "The D&C." I had a D&C when we lost Phoenix, two years ago this week. During the procedure, I hemorrhaged, losing 2 liters of blood and nearly needing a transfusion. At the time, they said they didn't know what had happened. It makes sense in retrospect, that the bleeding had been caused by a perforation of my uterus. This new knowledge of my body's history, of a physical reminder of the baby I lost... The tears came unbidden, unexpected. They gave me a moment to linger over the scar, memorizing its location and texture. I've already sought it out a few times today. I don't believe in accidents. This happened on the week of the anniversary of my loss, and I think its poignancy is not coincidence.
We talked about my hips and their position, and the women did a few things to help me close them up a bit. They're still quite open since the birth of Sienna, because I didn't bind them tightly or for long enough. I knew to belly bind, but the scope of binding my hips was beyond my knowledge. Had I known to tightly bind my hips along with my belly, I could have prevented the months of lower back pain during my cycle, among other things. Most women aren't informed enough on postpartum womb care, if at all, as a matter of fact, and the physical and emotional benefits of just ONE massage are more than I needed to profess the magic of this ritual. I felt moved. I felt lightheaded and airy, like she had shifted my perspective when she shifted my uterus. I felt lighter, and more connected to my womanhood.
We need these women. Women need women who care for women. It was more even than the massage itself. There was an emotional connection to my own self. With our babies running around, stopping in for a quick nurse or hug, and the sun shining, and women we know and love coming in and out of a space filled with heart energy... Our host was babysitting a friend's 6 week-old baby, whom I nursed after my massage so she could save the milk in the refrigerator for later. All the mothers took turns watching the children while different women exchanged services. We need this sense of village. We need to gather our different wisdoms and purposes, and serve each other with ritual and ceremony. When women are well, the earth is well.
Go schedule a womb massage. And a chiropractic adjustment. And greet your sisters and their babes with open arms, and hear their stories, and take in their wisdom. Share you magic. #betterwomanbetterearth #amen
Photos by Kindred Photographer