A year or so ago I travelled to Thailand and researched traditional post-partum care, spending time with village midwifes in the far north and learning how women were traditionally cared for at this time of their lives. I was both moved and fascinated by the Thai traditional practices which centred around building and nourishing the woman’s essence. Pregnancy is seen as a very depleting time, anyone who has been pregnant and given birth can tell you about a tiredness like no other.
In my practice I have seen the effects that childbirth and rushing back into daily life has, women’s health can be massively and negatively impacted if they do not replenish and nourish themselves. They need rest, warmth and supportive herbs to strengthen their body again.
Today I had the pleasure of going to see one of my students who had her baby two days ago and I was able to care for her in the traditional way. We had a lovely few hours together.
Last night I had prepared all the herbs I needed to make an infusion for her to drink and a vaginal steam, packaged up some cake (all new mums need cake!), prepared the clay pots and cut the kwan strings.
In Thailand, traditionally for one month after giving birth the woman should rest, keep warm (hot) by the fire (called Yuu Fai) and eat nourishing foods. Her community and family would take care of everything else so she can regain strength. Without a fire to lie in front of a woman should drink an herbal infusion made from Plumbago, ginger, pepper and other spicy ingredients that specifically heat the body internally. I took a months supply over with me for Racquel to drink each day, as she drank her first cup she could feel it heating her up.
I also created a make-do vaginal steam tent so that medicinal herbs could be absorbed into her body and help her uterus contract, cleanse and heal. There were about 7 ingredients in the vaginal steam blend, including Zinziber Cassumunar and Tamarind leaf (which I have just bought back from Thailand), both of which are known as ‘female’ herbs for their medicinal effect on moon cycles and the womb.
Another traditional practice is belly binding. So this morning, after giving her a clay pot and salt massage, which helps her uterus contract and get fluids moving I wrapped Racquel’s belly tightly in a natural cloth. This is called belly binding and common in many cultures around the world. The tight wrapping of the belly support the organs as they heal, support the back and further encourages the contraction of the belly (whilst keeping her warm).
Finally, I tied a Kwan string to mum and babies wrists whispering an incantation and blowing the sacred words to keep their Kwan strong as they begin their life-long journey of love together.
On days like these, when I get to offer support to women at this amazing time in their lives I feel I couldn’t be happier.