Jamu massage is all about restoring a mother’s body – inside and out – after pregnancy and labor. Here’s why it’s amazing!
You know that feeling when you’ve just had a massage, and your body feels like jelly (in a good way), and you’re so relaxed you sort of drift in and out of sleepy relaxation? Imagine having that feeling every day for a week – without even leaving the house.
Even better, imagine getting to have that feeling in the midst of the blurry haze that is the days after giving birth!
In a nutshell, that is the magic of Jamu Massage, mamas. Following the birth of each of my children, I chose to partake in this wondrous Javanese tradition (Jamu are herbs), which is all about restoring a mother’s body – both inside and out – after the rigors of pregnancy and birth. Most recently I had an absolutely amazing experience with All-Ten-Tic (formerly Origins Jamu Massage), which is one of Singapore’s leading Jamu specialist providers.
Jamu is especially geared toward postnatal mamas, and involves massaging the body with specially formulated herbs, oils and hot stones to improve circulation. It not only helps gently get your internal organs back into place, but also works wonders for breastfeeding in that it helps prevent engorgement (such an issue when your milk has just come in) and blocked ducts.
Following the massage (which usually lasts for 45 minutes to an hour), a specialist wraps your mid-section in a special traditional binding cloth (not so different from a corset) that reduces swelling in your belly. I was amazed at how much my belly went down after just three days of treatments!
A couple months before giving birth, I reached out to All-Ten-Tic to tentatively book my slot, as Jamu specialists are quite in-demand in Singapore and do book up about three months in advance. The company’s founder, Rebecca, was incredibly prompt in her response, asking for my measurements (so they could provide a DIY corset for the days following the massage) and following up with me the week before my due date to check my status.
Jamu is equally suitable for mamas who give birth vaginally or via C-section; with the former it’s advised that you start treatments about 5-7 days after giving birth. With C-sections, you can start 3-4 weeks post-birth. My awesome massage therapist, Lilly, told me that treatments can be effective anywhere within the first two to three months after giving birth.
Each day, Lilly arrived at the appointed time (she was shockingly prompt, in contrast to the company I worked with last time around). First she’d heat up the hot stones on our stove, then she’d start the hourlong full body massage. All-Ten-Tic can provide massage beds if necessary, although I was just as happy to use my toddler’s mattress on the floor along with some towels.
When your body has gone through the physically demanding process that is childbirth, there is nothing like a full body massage to kickstart recovery. I started lying on my stomach (only slightly uncomfortable because of the aforementioned engorgement!), and Lilly worked my legs, back, and shoulders. She then had me turn over to massage my arms, chest, stomach and neck. Since this occurs right around when your milk comes in, it feels AMAZING to have someone massage out the hard spots on your breasts, especially using hot stones!
Lilly paid particular attention to my mid-section; Jamu is great for helping to expel wind (thankfully it happens after the massage), and for working out the blood clots that annoyingly require you to wear pads for weeks following birth (one of those unpleasant side effects that no one tells you about beforehand!).
After the regular massage and hot stones, Lilly applied the proprietary Jamu herbs. With ingredients like ginger, your skin definitely feels a slight burning sensation, but it’s never painful, just kind of prickly. She then wrapped me up with the Jamu binding, tying it tightly enough that my stomach was held in, but not to the point that I couldn’t breathe. My posture was definitely quite erect, though!
Some people wear their bindings 23 hours a day – apparently this gets your stomach to shrink back into place as quickly as possible – but I personally found it a bit too hot for sleeping, so would normally wear it all day then take a shower at bedtime to wash off the herbs and let my stomach out. All-Ten-Tic advises wearing the binding for at least six to ten hours a day to get effective results.
All-Ten-Tic offers 5-, 7- and 10-day packages (I did the 7-day option); you’re advised to do the massage every day without breaks (other than Sundays and public holidays). Prices start at $568 for five days, which is incredibly reasonable when you take into account the convenience of doing it in your own home, the postnatal expertise of the therapists, and the personalised treatments and binding. I’ll admit it’s a bit of a commitment making time to do a massage every day – particularly when you’ve got a hungry newborn on your hands. The massages are timed with this in mind; I highly suggest feeding your baby right before your treatment begins to maximize the window of calm (and greatly appreciated Lilly’s patience on this front).
So does Jamu work in reducing your tummy? YES, definitely, although I think diet and exercise during pregnancy also contribute to how fast your body bounces back. In my opinion, that’s just a pleasant added bonus of the Jamu experience – by far the best part is getting an hour-plus of relaxing ME time in the days following birth. I am grateful to my husband, helper, and in-laws who were all around to help look after our baby and toddler, but I’m also of the firm belief that any new mother MORE than deserves this treat after carrying a baby, giving birth, and steadfastly feeding it for hours on end in the early days!