Ever wondered about the traditional Thai post-natal massage (Yu Fai – อยู่ไฟ)? Meaning ‘lie by a fire’, it is a specialized series of massage techniques, including variations of Thai-style massage with herbal compresses and relaxing aromatherapy massages with essential oils. Administered during the postpartum period (about 5 to 6 months after giving birth), each 5+ hour session will be performed for 3 to 7 days, depending on the mother’s choice.
The aim of Yu Fai is to help new mothers recover from the pain and structural changes a woman’s body endures from carrying and birthing a baby, including relieving muscle strain, restoring muscle tone, and rebalancing pelvic and spinal alignment. It is also deeply relaxing, which helps relieve the stress and counter the exhaustion related to newborn care.
In addition, Yu Fai entails a heat therapy component (hence the name) that is a steam bath-like experience, with a steaming heated herbal mixture. The aromatic steam hastens the reduction of fluid retention, detoxifies the body and helps the uterus shrink back to its original size. There is also a herbal body scrub following the heated therapy.
Typically, Yu Fai can take place in the privacy of one’s home, as long as you have ample room for the makeshift heat therapy tent. For those who experienced normal labour, it can be done one week after childbirth. For those who have had a Caesarian Section, it should be done after the incision has fully healed, about 4 to 6 weeks after delivery.
As each session is quite long, mothers can take breaks to pump or breastfeed. Typically, specialized spas offer Yu Fai in one’s home, and the staff will prepare all the equipment, clothing (a sarong), and herbal products needed.