Northeast Thai Women's Experiences in Following Traditional Postpartum Practices
- Author(s): Thasanoh, Prangthip
- Advisor(s): Kennedy, Holly P
- Chesla, Catherine A
- et al.
Traditional postpartum practices are widely followed by northeast (Isan) Thai women. Poverty, low education, physical distance, inconvenient accessibility to biomedical health care, and influence of seniors in the family kept voices of these women unheard. The purposes of this interpretive phenomenological study are to understand the lived experiences of first-time mothers who follow traditional postpartum practices, to explore the setting of practices, and to reveal how family generates and transmits practices to new mothers. Study was conducted in Sirindhorn district, Thailand, from October 2008 to September 2009. Sixteen pregnant women during third trimester with uncomplicated pregnancy were recruited from prenatal clinic. Data was collected using three methods including two in-depth interviews, several participant observations, and a demographic form. Within-case, across-case, and thematic analysis were used to investigate meanings of traditional practices.
Based on Traditional Thai Medicine, caregivers used food, fire, water, and herbs to rebalance postpartum women's self, including body, mind-heart, and energy. Supervised by caregivers, the women live in hot environment and consume hot food and drink to benefit both maternal and child health. Meanings of practices were revealed and presented through four broad themes. Food practice after childbirth addresses meanings related to certain foods which were encouraged to promote breast milk or discouraged to prevent sickness, which was called phit kam. Postpartum healing through heat demonstrated why lying by the fire was important to Isan women. The fire not only helped them retrieve physical health, but also improved beauty and ensured long term wellness. Hot herbal bath: rebalancing blood and wind systems reflected how and why the caregivers used hot water to promote the women's humoral systems and to heal perineal wounds. Lastly, hot herbal concoctions: tonic and lactating promoter explored local herbs used to make the teas taken by women to prevent and cure phit kam, regain health, and increase breast milk production. The findings provide basic knowledge for determining best health care and preventive health service practices. The goal for the future application of this research is to guide the implementation of care plans in the biomedical health care system with an awareness of cultural practices.