In Guatemala, the faja is specifically used on women after they give birth, to help support the abdominal and pelvic muscles recover after labour. These muscles stretch and move to make room for the baby. Post birth, the body needs to readjust and regain the muscle tone which can take a long time. When the faja is used after birth, it helps to contain the uterus and the surrounding ‘loose’organs recover their tone. Worn after birth also supports the lower back, alleviating tension and pain that is common in this area after birth. After birth, the faja can be worn for weeks or even months, depending on how much support is needed in the recovery phase.
The faja’s that I use for the massages I give were woven by Dona Dominga, the mid-wife who co- trained me in this massage technique. Dona Domingo has practiced community midwifery for over 60 years in her native San Marcos community in Guatemala. This ancient midwifery practice facilitates women to go through natural birth in the home, a practice which is unfortunately under threat in Guatemala today due to the rise in hospital births. Mid-wives like Dona Domingo who perfected their skills through practice and spiritual guidance have an art that is not recognised by such medical institutions and therefore, their skill and life purpose is vulnerable to being lost completely in Guatemala. Fortunately Dona Dominga’s skill lives on teaching this massage technique to therapists like me to help keep it alive. This has been thanks to Mariu Gabbato, who organises and co- facilitates this training and who runs a very creative and healing space called AmatistA Magic Garden in San Marcos, Guatemala (www.facebook.com/pg/amatistamagicgarden).