KELI GARZA

KELI GARZA

Founder: Steamychick.com and Peristeam Hydrotherapy Institute
Cutting Edge Vaginal Steaming Research and Case Studies from Thousands of Women

Video Transcript

Jessica: [00:00:03] All right. Hi everyone. It’s me Jessica, co-founder of Leiamoon and today I couldn’t be more excited to interview an amazing woman I’ve been calling for a long time, Keli Garza a.k.a. Steamy Chick. Kelly founded the Peristeam Hydrotherapy Institute to train practitioners in the use of vaginal steaming, and to further research on the benefits reported by hundreds of case studies–case studies that she’s seen too, personally. She, along with The Fourth Trimester author Kimberly Johnson, recently announced an initiative to fund studies on the benefits of vaginal steaming for postpartum women. I immediately reached out to her the instant I got that email. So now, here we are. Keli, thanks for being here.

Keli Garza: [00:00:55] Thank you so much Jessica.

Jessica: [00:00:59] This is awesome. I guess we’ll start by introducing you a bit further. Can you tell us a bit more about your background, where you are in the world and what you’re up to?

Keli Garza: [00:01:10] My background, I have a degree in International Development and so I’ve always been interested in research and international topics. I learned about vaginal steaming in 2011 from Marcia Lopez who is a Mayan abdominal womb healer. When I learned about it, she said that vaginal steaming was from Guatemala. I left there–I had that information and I didn’t actually use it right away. I didn’t think that I needed to. But a year later, I had a menstrual cycle issue and I remembered vaginal steaming. So I started to look everywhere online that I could find it and I found that there was vaginal steaming at a Korean spa and it was called Chai Yok. I immediately became intrigued. I was like, “Wait a minute, I heard it was from Guatemala.” Now I’m learning that the Koreans do it. I went to the Korean sauna and I had a vaginal steam. Within 24 hours, my menstrual cycle issue was resolved. My period had been missing for several months and I wasn’t pregnant. It came back immediately after doing the vaginal steam session. I was pretty impressed, and I had been talking to the Korean spa owner and she was telling me all about the practice of vaginal steaming in her country and that it is used as a preventative method. It should be done regularly on a monthly basis. So I was really fascinated by that. But I also had some questions. Where was it originally from–Guatemala or Korea? You know, who taught who?

[00:02:55] Over time, I found over 40 countries where vaginal steaming is practiced. So I’ve concluded that vaginal steaming is a universal practice. It appears that women have been doing that since the beginning of time. It’s a natural method used for [different reasons] and important at different times in a woman’s life, such as postpartum. Somewhere along the way, I continued to use vaginal steaming, then I started to refer it to my friends, I started to make supplies and herbs, and then I became “Steamy Chick.”

Jessica: [00:03:38] Wow, that so great. How many years has Steamy Chick been around?

Keli Garza: [00:03:47] I would say since 2013. In 2013, one of my friends was [telling me] about [some things happening with] her period. So, I was like, “Why don’t you do a vaginal steam?” I told her about it and she said, “I am convinced. I want to do it but I don’t want to make a chair, take off the seat and figure out how to make a vaginal steam sauna.” She says, “I’m going to give you 100 bucks, could you make it for me?” I was just like, “Okay, I guess.” So that was my very first customer. She had really incredible results, she steamed three times in a row… and she had such remarkable results, she told her friends, people that I didn’t know. Then they reached out to me to also make steam saunas and herbs for them. I didn’t actually ever decide to start a vaginal steam company but [people] never stopped coming after that. Those women had their results, they told their friends and so people were contacting me from all over the country within a couple of months, asking if I could make their vaginal steam saunas and herbs.

Jessica: [00:05:20] I love that piece of it too, that it is sort of a ripple effect of women sharing information, which is proof in and of itself that it must have been working for so many of them, that they’re telling their friends, sisters and children and then they’re coming back to you and that within just a matter of months that many people were super interested in learning more.

Keli Garza: [00:05:42] Yes, I was reluctant the whole while. I was like, “I don’t want to talk about vaginas. I don’t want to talk about periods.” This company was built out of a need because they just never stopped coming. Then somebody published a blog and that went viral. From there, the company has basically been growing at over 400% every year since it started. It grows so fast, it expands so fast that I’m racing to keep up, ever since then.

Jessica: [00:06:19] How many women would you say you’ve consulted over this five year period?

Keli Garza: [00:06:24] I worked with over 773 women one on one. At first, when I would give women these vaginal steams supplies–in 2013 there was no information about vaginal steaming online except for, if you Google the word chai-yok, you could find two or three articles on Korean steaming. So nobody knew how to use it or what to do and I also didn’t have any instruction. So what I would do is, I would just dig through it and I would think about whatever period [descriptions] they had. I used traditional Chinese medicine. I’m not a traditional Chinese medicine doctor but I was a traditional Chinese medicine patient. I regularly went to an acupuncturist and had learned that there are certain signs of your period that tell you certain things. So, one of them, for example, is brown blood. Brown blood is a sign of stagnation and the brown blood in the period is like old residue build up. Let’s just take that, I knew that. So when people would tell me about their period, I would just think it through and then figure out what the right herbs and vaginal steam protocol would be for them. I would do that with everybody that I gave supplies, just naturally, I would give them a consultation. Using my research background, I would record their period, when they started and then I would track it after each period with their vaginal steaming. And so, I was able to get a lot of information and then see a lot of similarities. For example, one of the things that I noticed is that when people do the steaming before their period, if they had stagnation, if they had brown blood, then what would happen is they would steam and then when their period [came] they’d have a lot more…. It was like this cleanse. Then the next period after that, usually they would have a completely clean period. I was also able to realize that the period isn’t a period at all. I don’t know what that term actually means. I know anthropologists in the 1800s used to refer to women [having] a periodic illness and I think that’s where we get the word period. I was able to understand that, in fact, the period is a uterine cleanse. So I started to use the term uterine cleanse to educate women, “Okay we want to increase and get a better uterine cleanse”, and so forth.

Jessica: [00:09:40] I was just so shocked by the period being called a “periodic illness.”

Keli Garza: [00:09:49] The thought was it was an indicator of the time. Like, there’s a period of time and then we get a period again.

Jessica: [00:09:56] You were just scratching the surface essentially of what really happens.

Keli Garza: [00:10:00] You know what I found it out. I went to a talk by Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy. She is a fantastic scholar. She is from the Hoopa nation in Northern California. She has been debunking some myths that anthropologists spread about her tribe. I attended a talk and she gave a quote from the anthropologist that was talking about how women have a “periodic illness.” The anthropologist was so disgusted by it. He just said, “Women have their time of periodic illness.” It made me realize I had heard that before and that was something that was said back in the day, and I think that’s actually where the term period come from. I haven’t been able to [officially] link our use of the word period back to that, but it seems to be a natural evolution of that term.

Jessica: [00:11:08] It’s interesting what you’re saying too.Tthe period is actually an indicator of health for a woman. It’s sort of the fundamental piece of the core of a woman’s well-being. So, if we don’t have this regular, what we’re calling, average menstrual flow, cycle, number of days within that 28 day cycle, that is the first indication that something’s off or there’s something that I need to shift or change. It sounds like through your work, through all these case studies that’s exactly what you’re finding. A piece of that too that you were finding was, there really is what you were calling the perfect period. You could talk a little more on that.

Keli Garza: [00:11:56] Okay, yes. Another thing is that I also surveyed women’s period. So I’ve surveyed over 2400 women just to share what their periods were like and I’ve gained a lot of information about periods then as well. Like what they look like, what doctors are saying about periods and so on. So that’s where my knowledge base comes from.

[00:12:18] When I worked with that very first customer I told you about, she had a different period. I was missing my period. I didn’t have a period before I started vaginal steaming. After I vaginal steamed, my period came back and I had this really nice, clean, fresh red period and it was four days long, medium red flow…. So I had this really pleasant period. So now, when I was working with my friend, I didn’t have any expectations. I just wanted to help her get rid of the [excess uterine lining] she had. Her very first period after vaginal steaming, she had a lot more old stuff that cleared out. I was like, that’s probably good. 

I advised her to continue the steam. She steamed again and when she had her next period there was only a tiny little bit of [stagnant material] and her next period after that, she had a completely clean period. It was four days long, medium red, medium flow and it began and ended on fresh red blood. I was just like, “Wow, that’s my period”. That’s what my period looks like. I just noted it to myself but I was actually pretty weirded out by it. I would have never predicted it. In fact, it was so unbelievable to me, that I didn’t voice it. I didn’t talk about it until years later, after I had observed the same phenomenon happening with woman after woman and client after client, who would coming to me for vaginal steaming. When women do vaginal steaming for two to three months, in some cases it could take as long as six months, sometimes longer, but it’s usually two to three months, what happens is… Another note, with my period survey, what I observe was that over 99 percent of women had signs of uterine stagnation of old residue buildup. 

So we’re all walking around with this old residue in our womb. What it looked like was that when women were cleaning out with vaginal steaming, they all seemed to have a very similar period; four days long, fresh red blood, begins and ends on fresh red blood and medium flow. So, at a certain point, I just decided to own it and realize, you know what, this is the perfect period and I can expect that when somebody does vaginal steaming, as long as they keep at it for two or three months, as long as they use the right herbs and they do it in the right way, they’re going to result in this perfect period. 

So let’s show that, that what’s you do. When I’m working with anybody, no matter what, if they don’t have that perfect period, I continue to work with them until they get it. And there are very few cases where I can’t get somebody to that perfect period. The only time that there is failure, is when the person doesn’t want to do the vaginal steam. In some cases it requires steaming every day. And some of them, it requires steaming before the period. Sometimes people forget or they might be traveling. Usually the times when it doesn’t work is when somebody hasn’t managed to do [the vaginal steam].

Jessica: [00:16:15] Over the years, you’ve figured out the protocol for each of these women.

Keli Garza: [00:16:30] It doesn’t matter if they have missing periods, or if they are starting with 10 days of heavy flow. After working with over 700 women, I was getting so many e-mails and messages from women all around the world, that there was really no way for me to help all of these women. So, I stopped doing personal consultations and I referred that out to Raquel Lemus who is somebody I had trained and taught how to use vaginal steaming and she’s also a licensed midwife. I started to refer all of the consultations to her and I started to train practitioners on these protocols.

[00:17:37] One thing that really became clear over time, is that women aren’t getting the care that they need from the doctors. Some of these situations, doctors were aware of what was going on, but they either didn’t have the tools to help or they didn’t see it as something that they should help. 

Jessica: [00:18:36] It’s so fascinating too. You’re giving women these protocols, the steam, which is unique. It’s whatever [the client’s] current situation is, but it’s still a practice that she takes home and she’s responsible for doing this self care, which is also really different a lot of times, than seeing a doctor. Not that this is wrong or bad. I’m not trying to make this divisive statement, but I think what’s so great about it is, you’re empowering women and other women as facilitators too to understand how this works, that it does work and that you can do it really simply from home, the same way that women presumably have been doing this for centuries and passing down that knowledge. So if anything, you have rediscovered it by a magical synthesis of all these things going on in your life five years ago and now it’s spreading like wildfire and it’s working and that’s why so many people must be tuning into it.

Keli Garza: [00:19:31] It’s so cool. We’re taking our health into our own hands and it’s so easy. 

[00:19:57] Now, I’m not saying that gynecologists are not useful, but as with everything, if you can address the root of the problem and if you can address it naturally, why not try that first because gynecology is a field of medicine based on surgery. In addition to surgery, they also use antibiotics, the artificial hormones. That’s basically the options that you have. So, if you don’t want those options and if you’re not interested in the side effects that go along with those options, why not try something natural.

[00:20:33] I remember what I was saying before. The lady who had been bleeding for 14 months, she had been working closely with a doctor. I had another woman told me that she started spontaneous bleeding. She was bleeding so heavy that she was changing her pad every six to seven times per hour and she still couldn’t keep the blood in. She was just flooding. So she went to her gynecologist as she was distraught about the situation because this had never happened before. She didn’t know how to get it to stop and she was troubled. I mean, it’s a problem when you’re bleeding and you’re not supposed to; It wasn’t her period. This woman, she was in her 40s. The gynecologist told her, “You’re in your 40s so this should be expected. As you’re moving closer towards menopause, there’s going to be unpredictability.” He said, “But obviously you’re very distraught by it.” So he offered her and he wrote a prescription for anti-depressants and he sent her home with no idea of what to do about this flood bleeding.

Jessica: [00:21:55] That’s so depressing. I know. It’s either that or hysterectomy too. Just saying, oh I know, we’ll just remove this entire life giving organ, that is the epicenter of being a woman. I think for so many women that may be the only answer, but in a case like that, definitely not. In a case like that too, she’s not depressed. She’s dealing with something that’s physically very uncomfortable and needs a solution for that, not another Band-Aid.

Keli Garza: [00:22:36] That is very irresponsible care. And a hysterectomy, you have to be aware, if you are in your 30s that’s when doctors start talking about hysterectomy. Especially, if you’re in your thirties and have children. I was actually really surprised. I was giving a talk and Linda Alexander was there. She’s on Instagram as [00:23:02] @moomoomentor. [0.0] She has one kid. She said, “I was telling him that I have cramping, I am having this issue or that issue.” And he said, “Well, if you’re done having kids, we could just do a hysterectomy.” She was thinking, you know what, I just want to address these issues. I don’t necessarily want to have a hysterectomy. We were in a room filled with 50 women and I was shocked. Everybody else was like, “Oh my doctor gave me that option too.” “Oh my gosh, that’s what my doctor said.” It was this really eye opening experience. What we realized is that, for cramps, ovarian cysts, fibroids, infections, heavy bleeding, for all of these different issues, doctors were actually recommending hysterectomies. The way that they were recommending them was very interesting. They were saying, “Oh, then you don’t have anything to worry about. You won’t have any troubles after that.” They weren’t making it very…. “It’s just this small.” “It’s just going to take you a couple of days in the hospital then you’ll be able to go home and get back on your feet.” Number one, they are making it seem like it was a small procedure and number two, they were making it seem like it was a good preventative health care method that would get rid of the problem and also prevent any further issues down the road. After that, I started to pay more attention to hysterectomy and what was going on. The last thing that I learned for the women that I have worked with, who had hysterectomies was, none of their doctors explained that they would go into early menopause, their hormones would go out of balance, they would start having hot flashes immediately, even if they were in their 20s. None of the doctors told them about those side effects as a result of doing a hysterectomy. A lot of women that I work with who have done hysterectomies are actually a little bit shell shocked by some of the things that happened as a result of hysterectomies that they were not given any information about.

Jessica: [00:25:17] So a lot of times, the symptoms that they [had] and got the hysterectomy for, does not go away. If not, they are almost impounded by having this major surgery. This practice of vaginal steaming is noninvasive besides a bit of vapors.

Keli Garza: [00:25:41] Then the media have the nerve to say, “Oh, this could be dangerous.” Well hysterectomies could be dangerous, okay. You have to sign a waiver that you won’t sue if you die. You know what I mean? You have to sign a waiver even if they are going to use anesthesia on you, that they won’t be held responsible in case you die. These things have really big side effects and it’s not that women don’t have the side effects, they do. I’m the one who sees these women when they are completely out of options. They’ve done everything the doctor said and now they’re completely out of options. That’s when certain women start to really look at alternative stuff. You know one thing that I was telling Kimberly Johnson, my colleague who I am doing the study with, one of the things I was telling her is, these women have done nothing wrong. They actually did what was right. They had a problem they were concerned about and they sought help. What happens after that? If they get a hysterectomy, because they had cramps or if they got put on the birth control pill? I had one woman, she had heavy bleeding and she was put on the birth control pill. Both her husband and the doctor were pressuring her into it. She wanted to do vaginal steaming. She started, they ridiculed her. She ended up going on to the pill. One year later she contacted me and she had to go off the pill because of liver damage. You know what I mean? There are real side effects and repercussions and it’s not that they don’t happen. What I do find is we’re not aware, we are not discussing it openly, we tend to keep all of it private. But when we compare notes, it’s very clear that the options that women have and the side effects or results of those options aren’t exactly the best care that we could be getting. It’s not the modern care that we should receive.

Jessica: [00:27:58] And I think for so long too, all this information was withheld, kept private or only within certain medical communities. And then at the same time, only within certain communities of women where it was more traditional medicine or learning from their grandmothers or whatever it was. Now, with the Internet and even what you’re doing with Steamy Chick and having your steamy chick vaginal steam forum online, we’re able to share information more readily and share those notes, so that we can see what is working and what actually does have a positive effect for the overall well-being of the woman. And not just for the reproductive area itself but even mental wellness. I think that’s something too with hormones, when you take birth control, for example, and you’re taking a synthetic hormone, you’re not really engaging anymore with what’s happening naturally within the whole psychosomatic system that is our body. So, I think there is a huge issue with that as well, that a lot of people ignore, until much later, they want to go off of it and they realize, “Oh this is who I really am and this is how I feel around my period.”

Keli Garza: [00:29:10] Yes. That’s one thing that Kimberly Johnson speaks to. She says, I think one in three or one in four women have postpartum depression. She’s like, “Postpartum depression. Women don’t have their natural function.” So yes, they may be sad but it’s not actually a mental health issue. She like, “If women haven’t been cared for, if they don’t have their bowel functions, they’re shitting themselves and can’t now go into public, wouldn’t that make you feel sad?” Her point is, a lot of times it’s not a mental health issue, it’s a physiological issue. And a woman is being ignored and so she is now becoming depressed or troubled because of this physiological issue that she has that she may not even know how to get help.

Jessica: [00:30:13] Right, and when she is going to a doctor saying, “These are all the things I’m dealing with, helped me.” To be told, “Oh, I think you’re a little crazy. Let’s put you on anti-depressants. I just can’t believe we’re still living out that same story, of oh crazy woman and powerful doctor. 

Keli Garza: [00:30:36] Good point.

Jessica: [00:30:36] Well yes, I totally agree. I’m so excited about the study that you guys are doing too, again, put vaginal steaming out there as such a viable option for self-care for women at all phases of life, really. Before we talk a little bit more about that though, I wanted to talk about steaming in general. What exactly happens? I know you’ve done some experiments, kind of DIY on your own and documented how steam can permeate the cervix and actually enter the uterus or even just the heat itself. I don’t know if you could tell us a little bit more about that…. What did you find in these experiments?

Keli Garza: [00:31:19] Well, I am fascinated with steam. I was working with women and as they were having the results I was just like, “Oh, how did that happen?” So, a lot of what steam can do, I was able to make through observation….. steam is a deep cleanser. So we know in, facial care, for example, steam is used to penetrate the cells and to clean even underneath the level of cells, right? So… steam is able to clean  on a whole different level than just water would be able to. Steam appears to be able to drain these For example, in facial care, you know that if you have some type of blemish, you could either take a shower or you could do a facial steam and what happens, it will drain…. Just as easily as a hot shower would drain a pimple off the face, steam is able to drain any fluid that is built up on the external genitalia area, just because the steam touches that area….

So, one of the things that you hear critics say is, “Vaginal steaming could never work and it can’t get into the uterus because what these vaginal steam experts don’t know, is that there’s a cervix blocking the steam from getting into there.” Okay. I’ve seen articles like that.

Keli Garza: [00:34:04] First of all, there’s a lot of [reasons to steam] the external genitalia….right there at the vaginal canal opening. We know this steam can touch that area. But as far as the higher reproductive tract goes, [the steam] is increasing the uterus’ own cleansing function on its own behaviors. But what I started to observe, was that people were reporting after they steamed, there would be brown spotting that came out of their body, after a steam session. So, they would steam and there would be brown blood. Then they wouldn’t have more brown blood until the next time they steamed, then there would be a little bit of brown blood, directly after steaming. So maybe if they steam at night, then they sleep and they would have that brown blood. This only happens when somebody has old residue. When I am working with somebody and they say, “Yes, I have brown blood in my period’, then they steam nowhere near their period, then brown blood comes up. Then they steam again, brown blood comes out. What does this mean? This means that the steam is not only touching the bottom of the cervix, which we know, because the vaginal canal touches the part of the cervix. The cervix has an opening and that opening opens during our menstruation. It opens when a woman is in labor and she’s going to deliver her baby and it can open during orgasm. Well, if she has old residue in there and she steams, then that brown comes out, that old residue comes out, that’s a sign that the steam has opened the cervical opening. It’s an opening, it’s a hole that’s there that opens and steam can get through anything. I mean, they used to use it in mail fraud. If they have a mail that’s glued shut, you use steam to open it, right? It opens glue when there is no hole, of course it can open up a hole right. But anyhow, this phenomenon of women having brown come out after they steam, is actually well documented now that I’ve seen. It’s a sign that the steam is absolutely opening that cervical opening and that it is ascending into the uterus.

Keli Garza: [00:36:55] Number two, women report feeling a sensation of warmth in their uterus. So that’s another sign that the steam is getting in there. Then, number three about steam… steam can melt things. Steam can melt things even when it’s as solid and hard as glue. 

Keli Garza: [00:39:54] When you really think about it, steam can work its way through granite rock. Steam comes up from the earth, and it will work its way right through that rock. It’ll work its way through metal. In fact, that’s one reason why steam isn’t used for engines. It erodes the metal over time. So steam really can’t get through even really thick, strong substances. And we don’t have anything like metal or rock in her uterus. Nothing in there is that hard.

Jessica: [00:40:22] I think what you’re writing in your experience too, maybe less steam is coming up into the uterus than through the canal. It’s kind of building up more so, but it’s on a basic level, bringing heat to this area and even if it’s working more at the base of the cervix.

Keli Garza: [00:40:37] Exactly.

Jessica: [00:40:40] It’s like a hot air balloon. There is a new heat element entering the atmosphere and you’re right, anything that’s dangling from the uterine wall, that doesn’t want to be there anymore especially… And so that heat can really help and decompose that. It’s not like a calcified rock in there, it’s soft and mucousy, you can bugger it, like you were saying. And then it’s coming out through the steam sessions of people that you work with and people are getting those results.

Keli Garza: [00:41:34] The harder something is,  it’s going to take longer to steam, but it can be anywhere. So you can have scar tissue in the fallopian tubes. [Matter] inside the uterine cavity are the easiest to get rid of. But another thing, just like you mentioned, even if you just heat the bottom of the jar, it’s going to end up in the jar and help the stuff to melt out. That’s basically what’s happening in the wall or on the outside of the uterine wall. The steam can’t directly touch them but the steam is touching the blood vessels that are in the vaginal canal and cervix that go along the uterus. And the steam is heating up the blood vessels throughout that whole area. So it can takes longer… on the outside of the uterus. But it still works.

Jessica: [00:43:13] I need to do this right after. Let’s talk a little bit more about your current project then, the fourth trimester vaginal steam study. I know Kimberly Johnson who you’re working with, Maga Mama. For those of you that may already be following her, she wrote a book called The Fourth trimester which maybe you can explain. What is the fourth trimester?

Keli Garza: [00:43:43] The fourth trimester is basically, when you look at pregnancy there’s the first trimester and that’s when these things happen. The second trimester, third trimester and then a woman gives birth. So now there’s this concept that there is actually also a fourth trimester. This is a really important time for the baby’s development and the mother’s development as well, in order to continue the process of the breast milk production and the care that a woman needs in order to recover from the delivery. So it’s called the fourth trimester. It’s this idea that there should be another three months after a woman gives birth, that is still dedicated to the whole pregnancy and birthing experience. We shouldn’t just, baby born, done, head back to work. It doesn’t drop off right there. There’s still more. I not sure who kind that term [the fourth trimester], but Kimberly Johnson did a really great job. I have her book right here.

Jessica: [00:44:38] Yes, we’re getting a look into your whole library. I love it.

Keli Garza: [00:44:43] So she wrote the book, The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing your Body, Balancing your Emotions and Restoring your vitality. And so she really did a lot of compiling all of the information, from around the world, of what women have done historically and the best practices to how women need to take care of themselves postpartum. Because she wrote this book… in fact she can’t deal with it all. She has hundreds of people on a waiting list to see her, for the help that they could receive postpartum. She is particularly specialized when it comes to pelvic floor health and repairing scars from postpartum. So she has hundreds of people on a waiting list to see her because she knows how to repair this stuff. And as these people are, “Hey can you help me. I need an appointment with you,” she’s hearing all of these horror stories. And so it’s very similar to what happens with me, because I am able to help women with vaginal steaming, I’m getting all these messages from women with horror stories.

[00:45:51] Postpartum is one of the really sad ones. The postpartum care that women get… So, a woman gives birth, the midwife and doctors whichever one, they check to make sure that she is not bleeding to death, they check to make sure that any of her tears get stitched up, if they need stitches, then they check to make sure that she is eating and that she can urinate and have a bowel movement. Then she is released from the hospital. Then, she gets zero care for six weeks. She’s completely left alone. Then at the six weeks mark, what they do is, they check to make sure that… I’m not sure. I don’t know what they do at the six week mark. They tell her that she can resume sexual activity and then they offer birth control. Those are the main two purposes of the six week visit. Now, when is postpartum recovery? What is postpartum recovery? There’s actually not even a definition for it. There is no definition for postpartum recovery. So, I was thinking through it. Well one thing is, I worked with steaming for postpartum. I myself used it for postpartum and had amazing results. So when I work with people for postpartum, there’s some very specific things that I’m trying to do. Number one, I want to get all of the lochia, [the normal discharge from the uterus after childbirth], out. So after a woman gives birth she bleeds. Is all of the lochia out? Doctors don’t really check on that. Women can go for up to a year bleeding postpartum. They give birth and they’re bleeding. They continue to bleed for a whole year and their doctors tell them it’s normal. Then, if their doctors do get concerned, they’ll do a D & C procedure, where they put a sharp tool inside of a woman and then scrape the inside of her uterus or they’ll recommend birth control. In a lot of cases the birth control doesn’t work and she still bleeds. It’s very interesting. A woman gives birth, the placenta needs to come out and then all of the birth matter needs to come out. You know how long it takes with vaginal steaming?

One to three vaginal steam sessions and all of the lochia clears out. I just talked to somebody yesterday, I know she steamed 30 days in a row postpartum, so I asked her, how many days until there was no lochia and she said three. I also had that experience. I didn’t have lochia, I think it was three times with my first child and four times with my second. No lochia after that. And yet we’ve got women that are bleeding for a year. I mean, how inconvenient is that. You’re trying to take care of a baby. There’s so much that mothers need to be doing other than still bleeding. There’s no reason why women should still be bleeding after a year. And yet we don’t have a definition for what postpartum recovery means, so we don’t have any protocol for a woman if she’s still bleeding. I mean, I was never given any information about what needed to happen for me. One is that people know that they should lose the pregnancy weight. I think that’s what people think postpartum recovery is, if you have lost your pregnancy weight. I think that’s the only one.

[00:49:32] So, number one, the lochia needs to be cleared up. Number two, all of the tears should be repaired and the scar tissue should be healed up. Number three, the uterus and all the organs need to go back into place and the uterus needs to shrink back down to size, and so on. There are actual physiological things that should happen after a woman gives birth in order for her to recover from the birth experience. And it’s all natural. But the problem is, since we don’t have any definition for it, since doctors leave women alone and don’t pay attention to any of these things, women aren’t getting the care that they need, they’re not recovering and they’re ending up with incontinence. So much so, that incontinence is just a joke. You hear every comedian say it in every show. After a woman gives birth she says, “Oh yeah, everything is normal except I pee sometimes when I sneeze.” Then we hear laughter. So, her organs haven’t returned to their normal function and this is just a joke. Okay.

Jessica: [00:50:36] You know, I [00:50:36] think_______. [0.2]

Keli Garza: [00:50:37] That’s an example of how low out bar is for what needs to happen after a woman gives birth. There’s no reason why her organs shouldn’t return to their normal function. So the elimination organs involves urination and defecation – the colon and then the period. So the other thing that happens is that women give birth and when their period returns, they have an awful period, really heavy bleeding. No problem. [During] the whole pregnancy and birth experience, shouldn’t you consider her period as well? When her period returns, would that be a sign of how the state of her uterus and whether or not she’s fully recovered? It is a sign, but again, not anything that is in anybody’s mind about what postpartum recovery is. With my practitioners I teach them first of all, the physiological things that you’re looking for to make sure that a woman has recovered, postpartum. She does need to have all of her organs back into place and healthy. She should have eliminated all of the lochia. She shouldn’t still be bleeding. Then, when she has her period, she’s maintained and she has to be checked on until she has her period. And when she has her period, then that is the {final indicator of being] fully recovered. And that is the whole postpartum period and the whole postpartum recovered period that we should be considering.

Jessica: [00:52:16] It’s so fascinating because we haven’t fully conquered the first three trimesters. But so much attention is given to just the baby—sometimes, again not always. Then this whole postpartum period is focused so much on childcare, breastfeeding and all these things that you’re still kind of giving away of one’s self as the mother but not how to kind of care best for yourself so that you feel really able to do all these other jobs that are suddenly being demanded of you. So it’s like this whole other world that, you’re right, we just sort of sever ourselves from medical care the second the child was born in the hospital, at home or whatever it is. Then you’re left to fend for yourself, when you’re already kind of cut off from communication socially and this way you might have been before, where you could ask your girlfriends or maybe traditionally, your mother or grandmother would help you in child raising but the way that our civilization is set up now, we don’t always have those resources ready at hand. So I’m sure it can be horribly isolating too, to suddenly be left in this fourth trimester without any answers and then trying to go to your doctor to ask, “Is this normal that I’m bleeding really heavily every day or that I pee constantly when I just start speaking a sentence.” The [the doctor] says, “Oh yeah, your fine.” “Oh maybe you’re depressed, here’s some antidepressants” just to add to the pile of issues.

Keli Garza: [00:53:41] Yes, I was actually accused of being selfish. I set up a postpartum plan for myself after giving birth and included meals and so forth and I was told by my family members that I was being selfish. So that’s how much you know the brainwashing is that it’s really only the baby that’s important and not the mother.

[00:54:11] I have a Taiwanese friend and she was explaining to me that they really have a strong importance on the postpartum care because they say that, in order for a woman to give birth, she must die and in order for her to be a good mother, the community must make sure that she come back alive. It’s so beautiful. Then, another one I heard recently, there’s this birth summit by this wonderful woman, her name was Layla. I forget her last name. But she did a birth summit and superb information about the traditional Moroccan birth, postpartum experience. I heard a quote that she shared which was, “When a woman gives birth, her grave is opened for four years. In other words, if you love that woman you have to make sure that she doesn’t die, because if you don’t give her the proper care that she needs, she could die. I mean people do die. That is a real possibility. If we look historically into some of the cultures and places where they still do take care of the mothers, we hear these really great sayings but we are unfortunately cut off when it comes to our postpartum care. But when you hear it you just know it’s right. I don’t know, are you a mother?

Jessica: [00:55:41] No. I hope to be, but I’m learning a lot so that’s good. Almost every one of my friends especially with incontinence, I hear about that constantly where they’re like, “Oh yeah, we pee on our pants when we go for a jog, when we laugh, and we pee pee”. I’m like, “Oh, that can’t be good”. So, I’m always sending them information about things I’m reading about, the LV, Kegel trainer or pee underwear. But still, even that, it’s a patch for a greater issue of just not having a proper postpartum care right out the gate.

Keli Garza: [00:56:16] Yes, if the bladder, the uterus and the colon doesn’t go back to their normal positioning, and the vaginal canal needs to close…the other thing is women are just left completely open. Their vaginal canal may not close, their uterus may not go back up, they’re left with complete prolapse afterwards. If the vaginal canal cannot close and the muscles can’t close back up and heal and all of the organs go back into their place, then you don’t have those types of issues. That’s one of the main things that can prevent that from happening.

Jessica: [00:56:49] So usually, when would a woman steam postpartum? How many days after childbirth or is it something you can do right away?

Keli Garza: [00:56:57] Yes. Women should start right away. So the sooner she starts, the [better]. So for example, if the placenta doesn’t expel all the way, then it can get infected. And this is going to happen somewhere between eight to 10 days, that she’ll end up with a fever and then her life is at risk and she has to go to the hospital. 

I don’t think that women should wait for 30 days before they start [to steam]. You have to get the lochia out. You have to get any remaining placenta out immediately. So it’s important to start as soon as possible.

[00:57:41] Now, as far as how soon you can start…. Basically you have to make sure that she’s not bleeding, and that what’s coming out is just the lochia, just the leftover matter. So the way you can know if it’s safe for to start steaming, is that the blood is decreasing. As long as your uterine arteries aren’t open there’s still going to be some blood that comes out, then there will be a little bit less and a little bit less and it will continue like that. The lochia will get less and less until it turns brown. If a woman gives birth, she may fill up one pad and then maybe it’s one pad every two hours, then one pad every four hours, then we know that the lochia is decreasing and then it’s safe for her to start. 

[00:58:55] When I’m giving these generalized interviews, I’m going to say start on day four. That way it will be very clear that the lochia is decreasing by day four. If working with a practitioner, it’s possible to start even earlier…. The other thing is that the uterus has to go back down to size and so midwives will say, “Oh, it can take from four to six weeks for the uterus to go back to its pre-pregnancy state.” The uterus stays big if there is still stuff in there. So, if you can clear that lochia out, the uterus can [quickly get back to its smaller size].

[01:00:08] Myself, after 10 days of steaming, I was only five pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, and that five pounds was breast milk. The breast milk weights anywhere from five to 10 pounds. My stomach looked completely normal and I didn’t have an easy birth. I had a pretty good birth in that, I didn’t have any major birth injuries or anything, but I had a 10 pound baby. She was huge…. After ten days, my uterus was back to its size. Everything was back in place. My vaginal canal was closed and I had lost all my pregnancy weight. That was after ten vaginal steams.

Jessica: [01:00:58] I feel like there’s a misconception too about pregnancy weight being the same thing as gaining weight, getting fatter essentially. It’s seems like, from what you’re saying too, it has so much to do with the way the uterus is filled with all this matter that helped the baby during gestation. But once the baby’s out, releasing that from the body, allowing the uterus to reduce to its state before pregnancy and then again nestled in that space between our bladder and our rectum so that those two organs can also do what they need to do. The quicker we can do that, the happier we are on all ends, literally.

Keli Garza: [01:01:42] I’m not a crier, okay. But I cried inside when I went to the bathroom after giving birth. I didn’t know where my urethra was. When I wiped, I was touching my cervix and that was a very uncomfortable feeling. I didn’t know I was touching my cervix. My skin was all swollen out of place and I was scared. I was so scared Jessica. I was scared and shocked into silence. I’m not somebody who talks about this kind of stuff. I was just very quiet and I came out of the bathroom and I was just completely distraught because I didn’t believe that my body would ever be normal again. So just imagine. Mind you, I had been steaming for a couple of years and I had a vaginal steam sauna set up and I had planned on steaming postpartum. So I started steaming. Well remember, there was no information back then. I didn’t have access to any information, so I didn’t know what was going to happen. Can you imagine after 10 days, when I was living in my own body, just as I had always known, with my cute baby, with all this breast milk? 

If you have a lot of breast milk, you have a sleepy baby that just sleeps all day long and your life is easy. For the most part, if you have a lot of breast milk, you have a really easy baby. So I had this really easy baby with all this breast milk and my body was back to my own at ten days and I have the photo online, on a blog of me and my muscular stomach after ten days. And none of this doesn’t say anything about it being a problem if women gain weight. I mean, during pregnancy, you have to eat. During postpartum you have to eat. I was eating seven meals a day and lost all of the weight in those 10 days. So, I thought that was the postpartum meal plan. This isn’t starving yourself, this isn’t dieting. Dieting in fact, is one of the things that makes it so that women don’t have their breast milk supply. I wasn’t exercising. I was laid up. So that’s one of the postpartum things. It’s actually just lay down and sleep when the baby does, just to regain their energy. So I was sleeping, eating seven meals a day, vaginal steaming and after 10 days I had my body back. So, one of the things that I learned from Dr. Lia Andrews, in her book, Seven Times a Woman, she’s a traditional Chinese medicine doctor. And she said that basically the pregnancy weight, a lot of it is actually just water weight. And so, the meals that women are given postpartum, are meals that helped to shed water weight because you can shed that water weight immediate, that bloating. You know the women who have the bloated or swollen feet, this is something we know that women have during pregnancy. That’s all water weight. And if you can shed it and get rid of it right away through food and through steaming. Steaming, that’s really good for it. If you shed that water weight and get rid of all of that bloating, then it doesn’t turn into fat. Fat takes a lot longer to get rid of than water. So that’s one of the reasons why. And you know, I don’t like to talk about [steaming] for weight loss because weight loss is one of the things that we do get slammed with all the time. I mean look at all of the weight loss pills and products on the market and so I feel sleazy when I sell this, “Oh, it’s going to be you lose the weight.” But the reality is, you don’t want extra weight. And if steaming immediately during postpartum is going to help you lose that water that you were holding during pregnancy, why not. Why not try it.

Jessica: [01:05:38] Yes, instead of putting the emphasis on like, “Oh, you’re losing weight so that you look better.” It’s really about you are [cleansing] all this extra stuff inside of your uterus that you no longer need to make you that much lighter.

Keli Garza: [01:05:51] So that you recover. We have no standard for postpartum recovery. Another term that they used and I don’t know who coined it, is mother the mother. The woman needs to be brought back to life so that she can be a good mother to her children. She’s not walking around depressed. I mean, we can’t lie, fat does depress women. It’s a huge issue for us, mainly because of the fat shaming that goes on in our society and the expectations that we’re given of what our images are. Which I am not approving of any of that stuff. But it is something that plays a role for a lot of women, as far as how she feels. We just know that it is comfortable to be in our own body. So, if vaginal steaming can get women back to her old body, within 30 days, within 10 days, why shouldn’t we do it? 

So again, I was talking to Sophia, one of my vaginal steam practitioners. She conceived at the age of 43 after a couple of miscarriage…. She used vaginal steaming for three months, and then conceived. She was just such a sweetheart. She stays in contact with me and she wrote a guest blog about her experience. And then she did her post-partum steaming and so another question that I asked her what was… One of the things that she had posted on Instagram, after seven days she was five pounds from her pre-pregnancy weight after 6 days of steaming. Again, she started immediately postpartum and so this is one of the things, a lot of times we don’t know what is safe so a lot of times what you’ll see online is just people posting whatever they think might be safe because they don’t know. So there’s some information out there that says that you should start after you have no more lochia, no more bleeding. Well that could be three months for some. That’s not actually true. You just have to be able to determine when it is safe to start. 

Jessica: [01:08:08] I think I mentioned to you an email that I was reading this study from a Swiss University, where they went to a really small village in Indonesia because they were also very curious about vaginal steaming and there, they call it bakera. I don’t know if I’m saying that correctly, b-a-k-e-r-a. I think they interviewed 14 midwives and about 170 mothers in different villages about this traditional practice, trying to understand its effectiveness and why women do it at all. And in a lot of their interviews, they talked about how some of the women really just did it because it was tradition, which I also think was quite beautiful, and the way that you’re saying the mother mothering themselves. Their family and neighbors would go out to the garden, gather whatever herbs were really local to their specific area. A lot of them were spices they used for cooking even. It’s like an aromatherapeutic, hydrotherapeutic experience for her to steam. And I think they would steam, I think they said 3 to 16 days on average, after delivery and continue sometimes for the full month. All of them reported feeling completely rejuvenated after birth and that they were really grateful for this tradition in their villages. At the end of the study they determined that you know these traditional methods are very safe and effective after childbirth. So it’s kind of like exactly what you you’re about to do in terms of a study here.

Keli Garza: [01:09:40] That’s incredible.

Jessica: [01:09:40] I’ll send you the article.

Keli Garza: [01:09:41] Yes, please send it to me. I do have on the Steamy Chick website a list of clinical studies that have been done on vaginal steaming and it is really hard to find anything. Kris Gonzalez, the Steamy Chick acupuncturist, found some studies that are in other languages in Korean and Chinese clinical of studies they’ve done on vaginal steaming. But Jessica, I’ve never heard of this study and that’s really awesome because honestly, I’ll probably put it on the website. That’s really great. So I want to add it to the list of studies.

Jessica: [01:10:11] It’s amazing too because I think there’s probably just so much more of it that exists in these more indigenous cultures around the world. You know for a lot of us from our heritage, I’m sure it is part of our lineage as well, but it’s been lost over here in Western culture. I’m just curious why you think that may have happened, especially considering your background more in international studies and anthropology. Why have we lost this?

Keli Garza: [01:10:43] I’ve made the same conclusion as you. Basically, where I found the majority of cases where vaginal steaming is practiced, are in communities where midwives are still attending to women’s care. It was a common and completely universal midwifery, so midwives everywhere have used it. In fact, I’ve even found African-American midwives who have learned the practice and are still using in the south, from the Americans tradition. So everywhere where you have midwives, [they] have used it historically. But here in the US, midwifery became illegal. It was actually illegalized in the 1800s. So, midwives would be put in jail for delivering babies. In fact, a lot of these laws haven’t been overturned. There are still, I believe, don’t quote me on this guys, this isn’t my area of expertise, nine states where it’s illegal for a midwife to deliver a baby and there are midwives right now, today, that are in jail for delivering a baby.

Jessica: [01:11:46] No.

Keli Garza: [01:11:47] Oh yeah. Here in the US, we have midwives in jail for delivering babies. There’s like a midwifery legal organization, I don’t know the name of it, [which] represents those midwives and is trying to work to overturn some of those laws. Basically when midwifery became illegalized, that’s when we lost the practice. So what happened at the time was that, doctors made it illegal for midwives to deliver babies, so women had to go to the hospitals to deliver babies. This was a very radical, quick change that happened. The thing was, doctors did not know anything about childbirth and they didn’t learn what the midwives were doing. They never interviewed them before they threw them in jail. They weren’t going and visiting them in jail and like, “Hey, by the way, what do you do after a woman gives birth?”

Jessica: [01:12:55] Yeah I know it’s crazy. Also, I think they’re probably was a certain time in the history of medicine, when it became more of this strict profession, I guess it was a threat to their body of knowledge that the midwives were ushering this magical act of giving birth with women. Then it was sort of co-opted by the hospital saying, “Oh you can’t do that anymore because that’s going to be in our domain, and this is what our expertise is going to be and we’re going to charge more money for it.” So I think yes.

Keli Garza: [01:13:41] Here’s the funny part, the doctors have no idea. Everything that was the woman’s periodic illnesses and childbirth was all considered women’s affairs. It wasn’t even considered part of medicine in the West. So when the doctors started seeing these women in the hospitals, first of all, the birth mortality rate, in other words, the amount of babies that die and mothers, the maternal mortality rate, it went up. Because, they had no idea what they were doing and they had these women right next to people who had plague, fevers and all kinds of terminal illnesses. So, what they learned was, “Oh, wait. If we’re going to have these women in the hospital, they need to have their own ward.” And that’s why we have a maternity ward. You didn’t know that. They were working on them right next to other people. They were treating it like an illness when it was never considered an illness before that. Since they’re doing surgery on these people and giving them drugs and stuff like that, they started doing the same stuff on women, so much so, that the doctors were like … Mind you, at this time in the United States, it was illegal for women to go to med school. So all doctors were men at the time, right. So none of them have ever delivered babies. None of them have ever shadowed midwives to deliver babies. None of them asked the midwives what they were doing. So, this is what the men did, they are looking at these women, they put them up on the table, they’re looked at their vaginal canal opening and they were like, “The baby is this big. That opening is only this big. That baby can’t come through that hole.” So what did they do, they develop the Caesarean. They cut the women open and take the baby out, because of the problem that the hole wasn’t big enough for the baby to come through. The whole history of humanity, until that point, surgery wasn’t used for babies to be delivered. But these men, they saw a problem. They just couldn’t understand how a baby was supposed to get through this. So they started using surgery. So, one is the caesarean that was developed and the other one was an episiotomy. So what they do is, they cut from the vaginal canal opening, they cut the whole perineum, I believe all the way to the anus. Not all the way to the anus, but they cut the whole perineum to make a bigger hole or opening. They are extremely painful. They were done as just standard procedure all through the 1980s. So many of us that were born in the 80s, our mothers probably had standard episiotomies. Nobody was asked, it was just standard practice so a lot of times the older gynecologists that are in practice will just do it as standard without even asking for permission.

Jessica: [01:16:40] That’s still done today I think, pretty often. It’s wild. So again, this is reiterating the point of why it’s so important now to fund more research for how vaginal steaming can help in postpartum. Where it’s not this divisive thing, but where we’re starting to look back to traditional methods and reintegrate them into like our pretty hyper, technologically advanced way of being.

Keli Garza: [01:17:18] Yes. There are some really great gynecological tools. I really like ultrasounds. Surgery does save lives, it saves babies lives and mothers’ lives, in childbirth and certain situations. However, obstetrics, which is delivering the babies, hasn’t even began to look at what women have done historically. It has really just developed from the point where midwifery became illegal and the men decided that surgery needed to happen in order for babies to be born. So obstetrics and gynecology has focused on surgery. These were actual surgeons that worked on women to deliver babies. But I do believe that obstetrics and gynecology are in their infant stages because they haven’t actually started to look at how the body naturally does these things without the assistance of surgery. So that’s just a reality that they didn’t look at that stuff. They started using surgeries and also drugs. So, there is a lot that has yet to be studied and understood about the body from the point of science. And when we look at the traditional birthing practices and what midwives do in indigenous communities now and what they have done throughout the West in the past as well, we find some really wise tools.

[01:18:54] So actually, vaginal steaming… it’s not that it’s non-scientific. There is science and we can study what steam does and why it’s having these effects on the body. It’s just that. It hasn’t been studied very much and the studies are obscure and hard to find. So, it’s great that you found that study about it. But every time that there are studies on vaginal steaming, it shows me great potential of this as an incredible tool. Then the beauty of it is that, women have known this all along. We’ve developed this, this is our [own practice]. It doesn’t involve knives, scraping tools, or drugs with the side effects of… the List is very long. So it’s a really beautiful thing that we are resurging and reclaiming these practices. We do have the freedom to do it. And also, one other thing, medicine doesn’t have to exists separate from this. There’s a vaginal steam spa in New York where there’s a gynecologist who does the intake and does the vaginal steam, number one. Number two, in Germany when they have births, they have a midwife and a doctor next to each. The midwife does the stuff that the midwife does and the doctor does the stuff that the doctor does, and that’s beautiful. In fact, in Germany the midwives will use vaginal steaming prior to delivery in order to get the woman ready for the delivery. That’s the domain of the midwife. Some of them [use it for] postpartum care, some of them for getting the woman into labor and some of those things. That’s going to be the domain of some of the knowledge that midwives have, that doctors in Germany acknowledge that they don’t have, and that the birth is better for having that midwife there, who knows how to get the woman to birth and knows how to help her afterwards.

Jessica: [01:21:03] I think that’s great and even the more research, that the project that you’re working on right now with Kimberly, the more real reports we have to present to help integrate these practices rather than making them feel threatening, cause that’s definitely not what we want. We do want to reduce the amount of surgeries or more invasive procedures that get subpar results…

Keli Garza: [01:21:34] It’s incredible.

Jessica: [01:21:35] So the hope is that we can just become better collaborators and not make it seem like there is this alternative thing that’s being pulled out of thin air.

Keli Garza: [01:21:46] We’re the ambassadors, Jessica. We’re the ones that have degrees, we’re not scared of academia, doctors; we’re not scared of… our own methods. We just happen to be safe in that space, not everybody is.

Jessica: [01:22:04] This is true.

Keli Garza: [01:22:04] But, we’re in that space and we’re willing to be the ambassadors. We can speak the language, we know academia. Even if you mention to them that you have a degree in architecture. “Yes, she’s an architect,” you know what I mean. So she knows the language. Me, I have a master’s degree. I took the time to do a master’s degree. So I know how to write a report. I know how to design a study, you see what I mean. So we are playing that role as ambassadors. Then there are people that, one example would be Haiti. In Haiti, they have always been using vaginal steaming. They weren’t cut off from the practice and they’re very secretive. They don’t share it very readily. I’m okay with that too. But we are playing the role of the ambassadors, of helping to bring it back to life for western women. Just to put it into context, to understand that even if your doctor didn’t recommend it, it may be something that’s valuable and here’s some information that will show you why. So, this whole project is one of those. I do believe that if we do this study, that it will be able to bring this to so many more women and be that bridge to the medical community. There are doctors that are interested in this. There are doctors that are my customers and clients, that have had amazing results. None of them will say anything about it. None of them will speak about it because they will get ridiculed and they will get shamed. This study is going to be a bridge so that even if the doctors did want to talk about it and share her personal experience…. We have a situation where doctors can claim this and yet, they don’t because of xyz… And all you have to do is google vaginal steaming to see some type of criticism.

Jessica: [01:24:06] There’s a lot of critics out there. We actually interviewed a gynecologist who’s in Atlanta, Dr. Tosha Rogers and she also offers vaginal steaming at her practice.

Keli Garza: [01:24:18] No way. That’s awesome.

Jessica: [01:24:19] She was an interesting woman to talk to. So yes, I feel like she would be a good spokesperson also for everything that we’re doing.

Keli Garza: [01:24:30] That’s awesome. You know, we need more gynecologists like that, that aren’t afraid to be like, you know what, “We don’t know everything. We still have more to learn.” You know, science is not meant to be static. It’s meant to move slower forward. So that’s cool. I’m really glad to hear about Dr. Rogers.

Keli Garza: [01:26:33] And some of the pieces too that we didn’t really cover in this interview and some women that keep receiving steaming talk about it a bit more, about the kind of emotional or spiritual aspects to it. It’s like it’s never ending, how many great things can happen, just from the simple act of bringing heat to that part of your body. We store so much there and it’s also like our throat, the sort of sphincter muscle that when you bring heat there, you finally get to relax this piece of yourself that you may have been holding on to so tightly as a result of impounding life experience that may have been abusive or whatever it was, even on a subtle level. So I think it just a self care practice and as a ritual can bring so much to a woman’s life in that regard.

Keli Garza: [01:27:22] The statistics about the sexual abuse rates are just really staggering, the amount of women that have negative sexual experiences, abuse or rape and so forth. I think it’s one in every three women has had a specific sexual abuse. But I think like all women have had negative sexual experiences even if it wasn’t rape, right? So when you think about it, what goes into the vagina? Penis, tampons, sex toys. There are very few things that go in there that’s not real natural. So the steam goes in there and it so gentle, nice and nourishing. Then the steam in making its way into the uterus, what goes into the uterus? The only thing that goes into the uterus, is during a D&C procedure, would be a scraping tool. Then you maybe have a scraping tool or sperm gets in there. How do you get sperm out of the uterus? There’s no way to do it, right? There’s nothing else that goes in there other than sperm which could turn into a baby or doctors that will either use surgery or do a scraping. There’s nothing that goes in there, steam gets in there. So, it’s like you have the core of your body that nothing can get inside of. And we’re women with all of our emotions and yet the steam is getting into our core and is able to clear out all of those [01:28:54] ghosts [0.1] from the past. When I thought about steam getting to the uterus and how this helps emotionally, we even have in our language, oh, somebody’s got “old blood.” If we’re literally holding onto old blood in our uterus and now we’re able to clear it out, how does that help us to move forward? It’s helps us to move forward and let go of things that are from the past. So, steam is really incredible for our emotional and spiritual growth.

Jessica: [01:29:46] So, for the study that you’re going to be conducting, will you be doing the research yourself or do you have plans to put together a research team?

Keli Garza: [01:29:55] Yes. So, Kimberly and I design study together and we are going to fund the study. We aren’t going to do the research because we can’t do the research without it being a conflict of interest. Basically, you need to make sure that the research is as objective as possible. So we have hired a midwife as our head researcher. She’s going to do all of the recruiting from people not from our audience because if it’s from our audience, again we’ve got too many issues. She’s going to do all the recruiting through her midwife circle and either through a center or a hospital. She’s going to recruit 20 women to take part in this study. And what she’s going to do is, she is going to do a vaginal exam and look at several different indicators after the woman gives birth and these are all some of the indicators that doctors don’t take into consideration. For example, her lochia. If she’s still bleeding, what color it is? How much? Stuff like that. So she’s going to look at these indicators and then also uterine placement, whether the vaginal canal has closed back. So, she’s going to look at all these indicators and she’s going to do an exam on all 20 of these women. Then, half of the women are going to do five days of vaginal steaming just bbecause we don’t have very many resources, cause we’re funding this ourselves, right. All of them are going to do the exact same vaginal steaming because [she] and her research assistant are going to facilitate every single steam session to make sure that they’re all using the exact same setup and that everything is the same. So half of the group is going to do vaginal steaming and half of the group is not going to do vaginal steaming. Then she’s going to do exams again on all twenty of them. And what we’ll do is, we’ll be able to take that information and see from the women who steamed, was there any difference…versus the women that didn’t steam. So we’ll be able to see as far as uterine placement, stitches, whether the vaginal canal has closed, [the] lochia, and we’re going to see if they’re going to be bleeding.

Jessica: [01:32:21] Amazing. So, how can we help as an audience to get in touch and help fund?

Keli Garza: [01:32:27] We’ve been getting tons of e-mails from people saying, “Can we participate in the study?” We are not going to do the recruiting our researchers are going to do that and it’s going to all be done in a professional way. What we need is, we need the money to pay them. So we have 2 to 3 researchers. We have one head researcher and then she’s going to have 1 or 2 assistants to be able to carry out the vaginal steaming. So, we need the funds to pay for their salary. It’s going to take about three months to do the study. And so we’ve hired them, we are planning to give them an outright salary. All of the money goes towards the researchers and the supplies that they need, so that we have all the same supplies for everybody and also the lab work. We’re going to do blood tests on the women before and after. So all of that is what the $25,000 that we need goes towards, every single penny. None of it goes to me. None of it goes to Kimberly. We both make money through our businesses. We [just] need money for this. We’re commissioning the study. We designed it. We want to see what the results are going to be and then when the study is done, one of us is going to write it. As long as we get the results we are expecting, we’re going to get this information out as far and wide as possible. So my role is to raise these funds. So we actually sent out an e-mail, the one that you got, where you invited me and said that you wanted to help. Thank you so much. We need to get the word out there. We’ve already raised thousands of dollars, headed towards our goal, but we still have further to go. So we have a website, it’s called www.fourthtrimestervaginalsteamstudy.com. You can go right to that website to donate. You can also get to that website through the www.steamychick.com website. I have it in the menu. It says fourth semester vaginal steam study. You click on that and I will take you to the website where you can donate. Another cool thing that you guys might want to check out on there, we have stories of negligent postpartum care, some of the stories that we receive from women of what their doctors aren’t taking care of them and leaving them to themselves. And then we have stories of what women are reporting after they steam, some of the really miraculous stories of using the steam. So check those out as well.

Jessica: [01:34:59] Super easy. And one of my favorite places too is the Steamy Chick vaginal steam forum on Facebook. So anyone that wants to learn more about steaming and just talk to people firsthand and be part of the dialogue, that’s also another great place to go. I’m so grateful for this whole talk and conversation and to finally meet you virtually, but it feels a little bit less virtual than I was dealing with before at least. We really appreciate all that you’re contributing to this aspect of women’s livelihood, and of the planet really. So thank you so much for your time and best of luck on the study. I’m super happy to support it and blasted it as much as I can too.

Keli Garza: [01:35:43] Thank you so much Jessica. I feel the same about everything that you’re doing. I’m so excited about it!