Traditional Chinese practice
of infant massage comes to Winnipeg
Victoria doesn't exactly have stress-induces muscle knots or shoulder
tension, but like most seven month olds, she often gets gas. Really
bad gas. Which is why she goes for massage. Baby massage.
Now infants, malleable little moppets that they are, may appear
to not even have muscles. But wht they do have, according to Nan
Mah, doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, is some 300 baby-specific
acupuncture or pressure points (Adults have around 400).
Applying pressure to, or massaging, those points, Mah says, promotes
the flow of "chi" or energy. And blood though this meridian
system to restore harmay and balance to the baby's body and treat
ailments such as colic, constipation, diarrhea, cold and flu and
generally boost the immune system- without drugs.
"For colic, I massage the liver points (on the idex finger),"
she says, "About 200 rubs."
Baby massage is no New Age health kick, but rather a highly specialized
pediatric practice in China with records dating back to 1368.
Still, Mah, who opened her Acupuncture Therapy Centre at 1368
McPhillips St. las January, says it is virtually unknown in the
West and just now being rediscovered as a medical specialty in
China, Where family members traditionally passed on the skill.
Mah, who came to Canada 10 years ago, set up te first and only
baby massage clinic in Guang-don province back in the mid-80s.
Back to Victoria, who, during her half-hour massage, is now looing
very relaxed indeed.
The process begins with the diagnosis- checking pulses (on a baby,
it's the fingers) and skin colour.
"Chinese medicine is based on balancing head and cold in
the body," Mah explains. "I either put heat in or take
it out." For example, too much heat results in diarrhea while
too much cold causes constipation.
Babies are not massaged with oil like adults, but with baby powder.
Gently tugging the ears aids infant slumber, Mah says, while rubbing
pressure points on and around the nostrils treats a runny nose.
And rolling the soft folds of fat on a baby's back, like forming
a pizza crust, stimulated T-cells and boosts immunity.
Back to Victoria's gas.
Mah demonstrated the gentle, circular massage of a baby's belly
- clockwise for constipation; counterclockwise for diarrhea (It
apparently works for adults too.)
"You can actually hear the gases coming out while you're
doing the massage." She says. Which likely explains Victoria's