Thai Traditional Postpartum care and treatments are still popular in current Thai culture and are continued by close female family relatives of those who give birth.
The traditional postpartum practice in Thailand is strongly related to the concept of “regaining heat,” or what is generally called Yu Fai. Practices include ‘lying by fire,’ certain dietary restrictions, application of hot herbal compresses, herbal steam treatments, taking hot baths and taking in hot drinks, and other activities that prevent “heat loss” like for instance keeping the body covered, sexual abstinence, and avoiding the wind.
Traditionally, a woman in Thailand is officially adult after giving birth to her first child. She then subsequently undergoes the Yu Fai ritual, that is— ‘lying by fire’ for a certain number of days. Part of the goal is shrinking the uterus to the normal size. Another aspect is the belief that fire and heat scares off evil spirits.
Other translations given to Yu Fai are ‘confinement by the fire,’ ‘being with the fire,’ ‘lying above the fire’, or ‘lying-in by fire.’
Apart from ‘heat therapy,’ Thai massage is another important activity during the postpartum period. Thai massage is given with the principal focus on treating the legs and the back, relieving after-birth pains, improving blood circulation, and regaining normal functioning of the body.
Today in Thailand, there’s continuous effort made to integrate Thai Traditional Medicine into the national health care system, combining modern contemporary methods with traditional knowledge. Modern comprehensive Thai Midwifery courses and studies (of which Yu Fai is a part) are offered at colleges and universities, but also by private licensed institutes or individuals.
Often, traditional midwifery studies are a component of a larger Thai Traditional Medicine study (which includes traditional medical practice, traditional pharmacy and traditional massage), but at least as often traditional midwifery can be studies separately also, which then takes about 1 year.
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