Jan 4, 2012

Birthing


Babies are sent from heaven or are distributed by angels as gifts from God to parents in the hospital.That's what my parents told me when my sister was going to arrive.Most of us are mothers at this point,some to one or more and some still hoping to have one someday.I come in the latter group.But I know that it is one experience every parent hopes to have when they want to bring a living testament of her love into the world.

I have heard my share of birthing stories.Some women say it was like juggling in the arms of death and coming back while some simply put it as the one thing we have to go through to bring our babies.Some love to explain everything in so much detail that you can picture a 3D movie while they narrate it.And some just go,"Well,it was hard work,but no pain ,no gain.I don't regret anything ,I just wanted to see my baby." Its okay to listen to these episodes until it becomes a competition,"I had 3 stitches,but I had 7,I was in pain for a month,but I was in pain for a year,I have a permanent backache,but I cannot function normal again."

Anyways,I'm not going to list these gruelling stories but I just went through this article and thought you would just love it.

Birthing Rituals

Greece, approximately 430 B.C. With the onset of birth, midwives were summoned, and the birthing mother was laid down on a bed. The room was checked to ensure that no knots were present, because ancient Greeks believed knots had maleficent powers and could prevent or delay birth. When labor began the mother was moved to a birthing stool, which she crouched over. The midwives massaged her belly, and one rested below the mother to catch the baby. Once born, the baby and mother were cleansed, as birth blood was considered unlucky. A sign was made on the baby's forehead to protect it from the "evil eye," a superstitious belief that a victim, in this case a vulnerable baby, could be cursed by the malevolent gaze from the eye of an envious individual.

France in the 1700s. Birth for royalty was quite an elaborate affair (a bit like birth for some celebrities in modern times!). After feeling labor pains, the royal lady would call upon her attendants and be laid on a special couch. Some 18th-century remedies that were placed near the mom-to-be included: sneezing powder to aid in birth, almond oil to cleanse the hands of doctor and head midwife, and boxes of powdered cumin and myrrh to dust the infant's umbilical cord. After the birth, the cord was cut and the baby was washed in oil, red roses, and red wine.

China in the late 1800s. For women of the Chinese merchant class, labor pains would come accompanied by the prayers of the mother and mother-in-law for an easy delivery. A Taoist priest would arrive by the bedside and whisper prayers into the birthing mother's ears. With the onset of birth, she would squat on the bed. Once the baby was born, the midwife would cut and bind the umbilical cord, and then try to encourage the placenta to be born. The baby would not be washed for three days, until the influences of evil were less imminent.

Zuni Indians in the 1890s. When labor pains started, the birthing mother would lie on a soft bed made of animal skins and her mother would gather the elder women of the family to aid in the birth. As the pains increased she was encouraged to remain silent; who knew silent birth was not just a ritual of the Church of Scientology! To speed up delivery the laboring woman's mother and birthing doctress would knead her pregnant belly. As the baby made its descent, the women of the family would cry and groan, out of sympathy, for the birthing mother who could not express her pain. As the baby emerged, the doctress would rest below the woman to catch the baby. After the placenta was delivered, the grandmother of the new mother would throw it in the river to be washed downstream. Six days following the birth, the new baby would be introduced to the Zuni gods and be made an official member of the Zuni people.

Polar Eskimos in the 1920s. To prepare for birth, the birthing woman's husband would create a bed in a shallow hole covered by animal skin -- this is where the delivery would occur. When pain began, the woman would rest in the prepared bed and her husband would lean behind her. He would then press down on her abdomen to encourage the baby to be born. Upon birth, the father would cut the umbilical cord with a knife and the new mother would tie a knot to stop the bleeding. The placenta would be wrapped in animal skin and then left outside for animals to feast on. The baby would be named with three names to protect it from evil spirits in the wind and sleep with his or her parents.

Egypt in 19,000 B.C. Belly dancing, often thought of as entertainment for men, is actually a form of ancient dance that reflected the body as a creation of nature and temple of the soul. It was originally a dance performed by women in honor of the giver of life, the Great Mother. The gyrations of the hip were believed to insure the births of future generations, and were used in preparation for birth. The laboring mother would squat low and bear down as she rolled her abs. The contractions of the dancing movements strengthened her abdominal muscles and therefore aided in an easier delivery.

Ancient Malaysia and Indonesia. Women labored sitting up, without medicine for pain relief. Instead, a Dukun, or midwife, would massage the expectant mom. The delivery occurred in the birthing room, traditionally within the house, as it was believed that a baby's first cry was a cry of loyalty and respect for the parents, and should be heard at home. Other mothers stayed in the birthing room with the laboring woman, and offered advice and support (in a similar style of today's labor coaches). Upon birth, the Dukun cuts the cord, bathes and wraps the baby in a blanket. Next, words of Allah were whispered into the baby's ear; for words of faith were supposed to be the first the baby would hear. The baby was then returned to its mother and introduced to the grandparents, which was the first act of honor shown by baby to its family. The placenta was then washed and placed in an earthenware pot with spices and kept near the mother. After 40 days, the family buried the placenta in the ground.
Ancient Hawaii. Among the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, between the towns of Wahiawa and Haleiwa, ancient Hawaiian women, pregnant with potential royalty, or alii, gave birth. Potential alii could not be delivered like a commoner, without celebration -- today, we see this birth seclusion when celebrities like Britney Spears deliver their children in special hospitals and birthing centers. It is believed the rocks contained powers to ease labor pains. Rituals surrounding the birth of aliis include 48 chiefs beating drums in the announcement of the arrival of the newborns who, in the future, could become chiefs.

Modern women would be surprised to know that a number of birth rituals from the past have been translated into our culture. The art of midwifery, the practice of massaging the pregnant belly during birth, medicine-free births, and the idea of silence during birth are only a few of these rituals. Who knows, these birthing rituals, and others, may continue to be passed through time bonding women from ancient civilizations and future generations together.

Lenape Birthing Practices, 1000 -1650


This modern drawing illustrates various birthing practices and other customs of Lenape women. In Lenape culture, a special hut, separate from the other dwellings, was used by women at times of menstruation and for giving birth. Here women rested while being cared for by other women of the band. Following birth, the child was placed on a flat cradle board by means of which the mother carried the child on her back. The umbilical cord was often buried. According to some Delaware Indians the umbilical cord might be inserted under the bark of a fine young sapling; as the tree grew tall and strong, so too would the child. In this illustration, we see an older woman using a hollow tree-trunk mortar. A knobbed pestle has been suspended from a bent sapling which acts as a spring to help carry the pestle upwards, thus relieving fatigue. Women usually wore only a wrap-around skirt of skin when weather permitted. They decorated themselves with simple patterns, usually by applying a round spot of paint to their cheeks. 

3 comments:

  1. I loved what you wrote, but I did not read the attached article :( I have heard so many horrible stories and well, every woman does consider her delivery was the most horrible...

    *apologies

    ReplyDelete

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