Friday, October 19, 2012

Birthing Traditions from around the world

I have been very privileged to assist many women to birth their babies from all cultures and backgrounds.  One story in particular from when I was in the UK, I was caring for an Asian lady in labour.  Present in the delivery room was her mother and her sister.  The lady who was in labour did not make a sound but her mother and sister were beating their fists lightly on the wall and making quiet noises.  Later, I asked the mother what they were doing and she told me that they were taking the labouring mother's pain for her.  

This fascinated me because I had never seen anything like this, so when I told a midwifery colleague in the UK, she told me the story of a West African woman who wanted her newborn baby to be lifted up towards the heavens for the sky God to bless her baby and bring protection and good fortune to him.  

I thought I would share with you some folk lore and traditions from around the world because not only is birth a normal life event, but also a very sacred and spiritual one. I feel very honored to be a midwife and to be chosen by the woman at this very special time in their lives.

In Cambodia the baby’s placenta, which traditional Cambodian healers call “the globe of the origin of the soul,” must be buried in the right location and orientation to protect the baby.  For the Navajo (a Native American tribe),  burying a child’s placenta within the four sacred corners of the reservation ensures that he or she will be connected with the land and will always return home.   In many cultures, the women will birth surrounded by the female members of her family and she and her baby will be fed and nurtured for several weeks postpartum.

When my journey brought me to New Zealand and I began to have an understanding of Maori culture in that the whenua or placenta also means 'land' reinforces the special relationship that the newborn has with the land of his/her birth.  

I would love to hear the stories from other cultures and midwives around the world.


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