There are many plants around us which have surprisingly amazing medicinal properties, which we know nothing of. Our ancestors, who used to live in much more harmony with their surroundings and all beings in it, had discovered them. These plants have been used from old times to benefit the needy. Such plants are being used for postnatal care of new mothers after delivery.
After delivery, mothers should bath in medicinal water (‘Vethu vellam’ in Malayalam) which has been infused with the goodness of medicines for a period of 3, 7, 9 or 11 days. You can choose the number of days based on your convenience and availability of local help to support you. You are supposed to take proper rest during the period for which you had performed the bath ritual, and once it is over, for a period equivalent to that. During this time, you should not exert much pressure on your body muscles and lie down on your back as much as possible to aid in proper muscle healing.
You should have separate water prepared for body and hair. Preparing water for hair is explained in a separate article here.
Preparing medicinal bath water for body
1. Collect medicinal plants
For new mothers, we boil water with a combination of several medicinal plants. This helps in relieving body pain and encourages quick recovery from delivery related injuries and distress. In most of the cases, these plants may not be available locally. If that is the case, please collect them together, wash them, and spread them out on newspapers so that they don’t decay. It is okay if it gets dried up a bit by the time they are used – after all, something is better than nothing!
2. Make a fireplace
The bath mixture is traditionally prepared in a copper pot, in a fireplace fueled by firewood. Usually the fireplace is setup outside the house where possible, since it uses firewood and the burning process generates smoke which will be difficult to get rid off from the kitchen using normal exhaust fans. This might cause eye and throat irritation to other family members. A makeshift arrangement of three stones forming a triangle will do.
3. Collect the required amount of firewood
This could prove a bit tricky depending on the location of your residence. While this could be child’s play in village area, getting access to firewood may not be an easy task in urban areas. In such cases, you can search for local shops in towns where they will sell you firewood. It will be a good idea to get it and store the firewood till we need it to avoid last minute hassles.
4. Choose the right pot
A copper pot is considered to be the best choice for the pot in which we will be preparing the hot bath, even though other metals are not taboo. It would be great if the pot is a big one; big enough to contain at least 500 litres of water. The reason for using a big pot is that we can prepare water for three to four days at one go, rather than doing it daily, which in itself is a tedious chore. If you cannot find a big one, please go ahead and use whichever size is available to you.
5. Prepare medicinal water
Once your fireplace is ready, place the pot on top of it and fill it with normal cold water. Add leaves of all the medicinal plants and start fire using the firewood you have collected. Bring it to boil. Extinguish the fire and let the water cool down to a temperature which you can use for bathing. It should not be too cold, the temperature should be above what you would normally use. The more hot the water is, the better. It is supposed to provide relief from back pain and other injuries in your body. But please note that you should not scald yourself. The water temperature should be within your endurance limit.
Please also note that you should not add normal cold water to adjust temperature of this mixture; it should be allowed to cool down on its own. So it would be a good idea to boil the water a day before the planned day of bath; otherwise the water may not cool down to the desired temperature in the morning.