Friday, 22 March 2013

Weddings and Roasting

Got invited to a wedding last night. They were very, very keen on getting us doing some dancing Kamer style, which is rather different from what we are used to, it was baking hot and we were sweating like pigs but they wouldn't let us sit down so eventually we had to make a break for it, I had to bolt like a frightened lamb, not very dignified but did the job..... very interesting experience. It is so nice to be treated so kindly in the village and be invited to all the special occasions.

Absolutely nothing going on at the health centre today, everybody at the wedding (they last for 2 days).

Went to do some home visits on the way to Phnom Penh, saw they lady I escorted to hospital, everybody is still very pleased with me and I felt quite the hero walking into their village.

Saw the lady with the  prolonged second stage as well. Everybody well, although this woman was roasting herself and the baby. It was so hot I struggled to do the maternal and neonatal check.  The local midwife was explaining to them how this particular practice can be harmful to the mother and baby due to excessive smoke inhalation but they were not having any of it.

Got another death ride in a "taxi" to Phnom Penh and then found a hotel on the fly. It has aircon which is bliss, what a treat for us.

Cambodian postpartum practices:

Cambodians believe that the woman's body becomes cold after giving birth. They take steps to heat up the body and prevent further cooling or deterioration. A woman is not to take a shower for a few days or a week after delivery, although she can take a sponge bath with warm water. Keeping the body covered from head to toe is important. Cold ice water offered post delivery in the hospital may be seen as unhealthy.

Often mothers lies on a bed above a fire with their babies; this is called ‘roasting’. The roasting starts immediately after delivery and normally takes at least a week to complete. Besides heating up the body, roasting is believed to prevent illnesses after the postpartum period.

A woman is also told to sit on a rock that has been heated in fire every morning, for up to three weeks postpartum. It is believed, as a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) told a client, “when a woman sits on the rock it prevents the uterus from coming out.”

It is also a common practice to have a fire-warmed rock on the abdomen. It is said to make the uterus shrink, and to prevent the sagging of the abdomen later.

Steaming is another postpartum practice. Steaming causes the mother to perspire which removes impurities. The steam is made by the boiling a mixture of herbs, usually in a clay pot. During or after the steaming, some women apply a pounded mixture of galangal root and/or turmeric root all over their bodies. (Galangal and turmeric are like ginger, and are ingredients for cooking) These practices prevent illnesses and improve the skin.

Although all this sounds ok, the fires are usually make from green wood as it is cheaper and so lots of babies die from  smoke inhalation. The local midwives have also seen many bad burns from hot stones and roasting. As an alternative, we advise then on a healthy diet with an emphasis on ginger (so they still get the "hot") and plenty of rest, but some people still prefer to roast which is very frustrating for the local midwives.

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