Birthing is considered sacred in several cultures around the world, so much so that there are customs and rituals attached to it. In times when medical sciences have advanced enough to support obstetrics, and there are new birthing norms, women still cling on to a number of age-old beliefs. Here are some of the most fascinating birthing traditions from around the world.
1. Eating Placenta:
This one might sound really bizarre, but in some far-east nations, eating the saved placenta is part of the tradition. Several women swear by the nutrition it gives them and helps regain their strength faster.
2. Burying The Placenta (Bali):
Since ancient times, women in Bali have been following the postpartum practice of burying the placenta! Once the placenta in cleaned, it is placed in a container and buried outside the home after having a detailed ceremony. Hindus consider the placenta as a living thing – almost like a twin sibling of the newborn.
3. La Cuarentena (Latin America):
In several Latin American countries, women are confined to something called La Cuarentena which simply translates to ‘quarantine’. The new mother is quarantined for six weeks in that she abstains from sex or any strenuous activity and avoids certain foods. During the quarantining period, women would take all the time to nurse their babies and help themself recuperate, while other members of the family help in cooking, be a helping hand for domestic chores and take care of the rest of the children.
4. Offering Gifts (Brazil):
It might sound contrary for a new mother to give gifts to others instead of receiving some for the newborn. But in Brazil that is what new moms do. Each time a visitor goes to the hospital to pay a visit after childbirth, they come home with a gift!
5. Home Birthing (Netherlands):
In Netherlands, about 20% of births happen at home. It means that the births are done without anaesthetics. The Dutch believe childbirth is not a disease but a natural part of life.
6. Lohusa Serbeti (Turkey):
Part of the tradition for new moms in Turkey involves drinking a beverage made from cinnamon, red food coloring and sugar. It is the first thing that is served to the new mother while she is still there at the hospital. The drink is then offered to the visitors who come to pay a visit.
7. The Mutterpass (Germany):
In 1968, the German maternal health care system introduced a mutterpass or a little booklet that is given to the mothers at their first prenatal visit. Women bring the pass to all the appointments made with the doctor through their pregnancy. It helps to keep the doctors abreast of the mother’s condition and track any potential risks.
8. Aqiqah (Pakistan):
Aqiqah is a common practice in Pakistan and other Islamic republics. It is observed as a baby-naming tradition on the seventh, 14th or the 21st day after the baby is born. The rituals involve shaving the infant’s head and sacrificing an animal.
9. Brit Milah (Israel):
The Jewish ritual of Brit Milah involves baby boys being circumcised and a naming ceremony held eight days after they are born. The rituals involve a morning prayer followed by a festive meal.
10. Omugwo (Nigeria):
It is a simple Nigerian tradition of giving baby its first bath by his or her grandmother. In case the grandmother is not available, a close friend or an aunt could do the ritual. The term Omugwo generally refers to postpartum care and can be quite a help to the new mothers.
11. The Baby Blanket (US):
The Kuddle-Up blanket is a thing in the US. It was created about 60 years ago by a company called Medline in order to update the beige hospital blanket. The wrap symbolizes the great phenomenon called childbirth.
12. Ansei (Japan):
In Japan, the birth of a child is celebrated for a good three weeks after the baby has arrived into the world. The new mother stays at the home of her parents so she can recover and regain her strength. While she takes all the time to bond with the baby, her parents and other members in the family help her with her needs and chores.
13. Gold bracelets (Guyana):
In Guyana, women celebrate the arrival of newborns on their ninth day after birth. They deem it mandatory for guests to bring gifts for the new-born. Be it a boy or a girl, the child is presented gold bracelets. Some moms also save their placenta in a container and burn it during this celebration symbolizing the separation of mother and baby.