It is surprising to learn
that masseuses could be directly, or indirectly,
responsible for ruining a babies' health.
The issue was highlighted by a group of pediatricians
from the Maharashtra branch of the BPNI (breastfeeding
Promotion Network of India), based in the
north western suburbs. The organization has
been involved in programmes - encouraging
mothers to breastfeed their newborn infants.
Though not directly affiliated to the Indian
Paediatric Association, most of the doctors
belong to both groups.
Their work with mothers and babies led them
towards a solution to the 'maalishwali' problem.
"We realized that mothers trust these
maalishwalis and sometimes their advice is
wrong, " says pediatrician Dr. Renuka
Some of their advice has to do with basic
practices, such as applying kajal to the eyes,
in order to ward off evil! In the case of
newborns, this is not advisable. More serious
practices involve putting oil in the ears,
vaginal tracts, and ureters of the babies
for 'cleaning', which can lead to serious
infections. Even worse is the squeezing of
the breast of newborns to extract 'witches'
milk' from them. Excess milk in newborn babies
is common, but squeezing it out in such a
fashion can cause an abscess in the glands.