A certified expert on Yu-Fai, traditional Thai treatment of postpartum confinement speaks about this unique way of healing.
Yupaporn Thongkam (Nickname Ae) has over 20 years of experience in helping new moms to get better after birth. We interviewed her to learn more about this 5-day treatment that was designed to help moms recover mentally and physically after giving birth.
What is it?
Yu-Fai is a traditional Thai post-childbirth care that helps moms recover from giving birth. The female body goes through a lot of stress during pregnancy and childbirth. Yu-Fai treatment serves as a way for your body and mind to relax after all that hard work.
The 8 steps of Yuu-Fai
There are eight steps we follow in a single Yu-Fai session.
- Medical history: A good practitioner would examine your health and medical history before and during pregnancy to find out if there’s any process they need to avoid or adjust the treatment to your need.
- Herbal bath: Then we start with a short herbal bath.
- Warm brick and salt compression: We apply compressions of a warm small brick pot filled with salt on the chest to help with milk flow, on the belly to help heal the uterus, and on the body to help with aching around the waist, shoulders, and back. This takes 3 hours.
- Fresh herbal compression: Compressions of fresh herbs on the body provide a relaxing smell that can help relieve pain, soreness, and inflammation.
- Oil massage: A massage using pure cold-pressed sesame oil can replenish moisture to the skin. Most pregnancies would cause dry skin.
- Herbal Sauna: Inhaling steam from boiling water filled with herbs helps increase blood flow and detoxify your body of toxins through sweats. This process is believed to alleviate the shivering that some moms experience after childbirth. Mothers who went through natural birth would go through an extra process called ‘Nang-Tan’ or sitting on Charcoal, using grass that has repairing properties mixed with Notch leaves, placed on heated bricks. The herbal steam helps heal the wound and decreases vaginal discharge.
- Herbal scrub: The scrub helps rejuvenate skin cells, cleanse and remove dark spots on the skin.
- Placing heat on the stomach: Warm up your body for relaxation and drive out the remaining amniotic fluid.
I adjust these steps according to each woman’s specific needs and health condition.
What is the difference between moms that did natural birth vs C-sections?
I strongly support natural birth. From my experience working with after-birth treatments, mothers who choose natural birth produce more milk for the baby and recover faster. They can start Yu-Fai 7 days after giving birth or as soon as the wound is healed, with the mentioned extra charcoal process. Whereas C-section moms must wait 30 days after giving birth to start their Yu-Fai as it takes longer for their bodies to heal.
Yu-Fai experts will evaluate your health and design a suitable time period for your treatment. The process usually takes at least 5 days or more.
Moms who have experienced preeclampsia or have high blood pressure are not advised to do Yu-Fai or should receive the treatment under their doctor’s supervision.
What are the benefits?
Most moms usually feel the difference as soon as they have the treatment. The stomach, bottom, back, and hip become smaller and the swellings stop. Yu-Fai helps adjust the hormone balance which helps relieve mood swings and baby blues. The treatment relaxes both the body and mind and provides an opportunity for new moms to have someone to share their worries with. A Yu-Fai expert can help educate new moms on how to take care of themselves, their newborns, and stress relief techniques.
Why do you love working with new moms?
One of my favorite experiences is seeing a mother recover from her baby blues after her Yu-Fai treatment. They get to relax and really talk to someone and go back to their laughing happy self. Seeing new moms producing healthy breast milk for their babies makes me feel happy.
What do new moms worried about?
Most of them worry about not being able to produce enough milk for the baby. My advice is to try breastfeeding as much as they can.
For moms that can not get Yu-Fai treatment, what should they do?
Try to provide warmth for your body. Take a warm bath, drink warm water, soup, or use a heat pack on your stomach.
If you live in Thailand you can reach Khun Ae on her phone: 081-304-1406