The authors refer to vaginal steaming as an “herbal steam bath” or the local name bakera.
In 2007, researchers from the Institute of Systematic Botany at the University of Zurich, Switzerland published a study on the Indonesian practice of vaginal steaming for reproductive system recuperation after childbirth. The aim of the study was to document knowledge on the preparation and herbs used for vaginal steaming in order to help sustain the practice as well as encourage its use in local health centers.
Researchers conducted interviews and questionnaires with 14 midwives and 166 mothers. Documenting over 60+ herbs used in vaginal steam herbal formulas.
According to the authors, “the thermotherapeutic effect of vaginal steaming soothes symptoms such as muscular strain, heaviness in the limbs, edema, loss of appetite, and constipation, and the essential oils of the plants have an immuno-stimulant, antiseptic, and antiphlogistic effect.”
The study concludes that steaming with an experienced practitioner is an effective and safe method for postpartum recovery.
Researchers recognized a decline in the popularity of postpartum vaginal steaming in the region due to: 1) the decline of traditional midwifery with the rise of westernized healthcare; and 2) the discouraging attitudes and bias of medical doctors and health care providers towards traditional health practices. The authors conclude the following:
“The more [vaginal steaming] is appreciated by the medical doctors the more it is valued by the mothers.” “If the traditional knowledge is incorporated into the modern training courses for midwives, its application is supported by professional health care providers, and the traditional recipes are made available in the health centers, [vaginal steaming] may continue to play an important role in postnatal care among the people in the Minahasa region.”