Reconsidering the Traditional Postpartum Practices of Laos from Women's Experience

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: Booth 66
Oral Presentation
Mitsuhiro IWASA , Kochi University, Japan, Japan
The traditional postpartum practice that keeps mothers body warm for a certain period after childbirth is still practiced throughout the Southeast Asia and has been performed in Laos usually as well. As the biomedicine penetrated into Laos, such traditional practice has been often considered as a "bad custom" which injures women’s health. However, it must be said that this is partial and insufficient recognition which comes from overlooking the experiences of women who have actually practiced it. This presentation attempts to describe the postpartum practice called "yu fai" in Laos through the viewpoints of Lao women. These perspectives were suggested from interview survey which was conducted to 25 Lao women who have given birth, and it shows the following points. Yu fai is a process of caring a postpartum vulnerable body to make it recover to be able to do daily activities through performing a set of practices such as; lying by the fire, following food restriction, taking hot bathes and drinking hot drinks. Interestingly enough, while their practices are generally oriented by a customary framework as a whole, the remarkable differences appeared in each individual way and the time period of yu fai. Through the experiences of monitoring and caring their bodies cautiously during a period of yu fai, women acquire individual knowledge about their own body’s characteristics, and they can reconstitute their body perceptions and ways and period of yu fai based on their realization. Such differences are reproduced through the women’s knowledge based on experiences of practicing yu fai by themselves. From examining above findings, this presentation tries to approach the aspect of yu fai as dynamic practice to care postpartum body based on women's individual experiences and knowledge.