Posts Tagged ‘Birth’

Do not press the link if you are squeamish!

BBC three, last night, just by chance I started watching this programme and was entranced. It is advertised as ………

‘Journalist Dawn Porter goes in search of the truth about childbirth. Like many young women, Dawn terrified by the prospect of childbirth. As well as from the pain, she worries that her body will be damaged beyond repair and the prospect that sex will never be the same again. Finding her friends unwilling to spill the beans about what it’s really like to give birth, she seeks out a first-time mum who will let her witness a birth firsthand.’

I am so frustrated at not being at work because I can’t recommend this to the pregnant women. Dawn went right to the ‘nitty gritty’, it was all those questions you don’t know the answer to, all those things that you haven’t even thought about in down-to-earth, humourous at times, but a very honest 60minutes of gems for 1st time Mums. From scooping poo out of a birth-pool,  gas and air, a pool birth, ventouse, forceps, to what a placenta looks like. Yes, it is gory but not gratuiously so. Basically it’s educationally entertaining. 

I also think it would be good for many women who have given birth before and are tremulous about a repeat of their first experience. One of daughter’s friends, expecting her second baby in three weeks, was chatting to me today and mentioned that she had watched it and it had made her think about using ‘Active Birth’ rather than having an epidural the minute she was in hospital. What had made her think this way was not that the women ‘enjoyed’ labour, it was quite obvious that the women found some of it painful (understatement), but how they were immediately afterwards, mobile and catheter free. Obviously not 100% fine but equally not surrounded by, and wired up to, all sorts of medical tubes and gadgetry. Daughters had encouraged her, telling her that I used to facilitate the Active Birth classes so had lots of info. End result is that she and her partner will be coming round next week for a one-to-one on things to do to encourage normal progress in labour and different coping strategies. I’m really looking forward to being midwife me again, even if it is only for a couple of hours!


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There was just so much on what to do with a placenta…….that I just had to go hunting for a few more childbirth rituals.

Guatemala – If the baby will not come, a common remedy is to boil a purple onion in beer and have the woman drink the liquid.
– Midwives believe the placenta needs the “heat” of the newborn to deliver, and if the cord is cut beforehand, the placenta will rise into the throat of the mother and choke her. If she must cut the cord prior to the placenta delivering, the midwife ties it to the mother’s leg with a strong stout string, using many knots to keep it from rising.
– Soon after the birth, the mother eats hot chocolate and sweet bread. She does not get out of bed for 24 hours. The only fluids she takes are hot chocolate, hot water and chamomile tea.
Central African Republic– A call-and-response song used during birth: “EI-OH mama ti mbi, ti mbi aso mbi” (“Ei-Oh mother of mine, my belly hurts me”). The response: “Kanda be ti MO!” (“Tie up your heart,” meaning “Tough it out”). Niger– In the Moslem tradition, a woman’s genitals are not to be touched by anyone other than the husband. The matrone (midwife) respects this custom and rather than “delivering” the infant, she aids the labouring woman by offering herbal drinks to stimulate contractions, sprinkles herbs over the woman’s abdomen, and recites prayers for a speedy, safe birth.Mexico – A pregnant woman should avoid all contact with anything death-related. She is forbidden from attending funerals or burials and from visiting cemeteries.
– During childbirth, it is thought that the woman’s womb loses heat and her ovaries and genitals soften, never returning to their original position. To prevent this, some traditional midwives place themselves between the woman’s legs at the moment she is giving birth, to help keep the heat in and curses out.
– During pregnancy, a woman must avoid cold or hot baths, using warm water instead. Cold water is believed to affect bones and joints; the pelvis will be rigid and this could cause a longer and more difficult and painful labor. And varicose veins and other circulatory problems seem to appear as a consequence of hot baths. Many also believe that a pregnant women should not expose herself to the sun’s heat or stand near a fire, since excess heat may burn the placenta or heat the baby and irritate it.
– A 40-day period of caring for the mother and child is considered essential for the prevention of diseases and complications
Peru – If the placenta doesn’t come out on its own, put salt on the woman’s tongue.

Angola– The Umbundu people do not take the new baby outside the home for the first seven days because they believe the child’s life is tenuous and bad luck might befall it.

Malaysia – The bleeding postpartum woman is considered polluted and polluting. At the same time, she is still vulnerable to evil spirits. Therefore she is forbidden to leave the house or participate in cooking and cleaning.

Ghana – The mother is to close or cross her legs during the postnatal period, based on the belief that it would reduce the air entering the body which could result in a bleeding and/or a permanently fat abdomen.

Inuit – If mothers begin a project such a sewing she should finish it so the labor won’t be long.
– Every newborn is greeted with a handshake by everyone, even the children.
– Don’t make bubbles with gum or blow up a balloon or your membranes won’t rupture.
– Don’t wear a ring or have braids in your hair because this will cause the umbilical cord to be wrapped around the baby’s neck.

Uganda – The mother is instructed not to drink water while standing, to prevent the baby from being born with squinted eyes.

Bolivia – Don’t do any knitting while you’re pregnant, as it will cause the umbilical cord to become wrapped around the baby’s neck.

Bihar, India -If a woman’s labour was not progressing she was made to drink a glass of water in which her mother-in-law’s big toe had been dipped.

Bali – The Balinese mother is purified twelve days after the child’s birth.  The placenta is buried with other appropriate offerings.  For the first one hundred five days of the child’s life he doesn’t touch the ground.  The child is held continuously in the arms of family until another ceremony which introduces the child to the family.

Navajo –  view of pregnancy is as a state of wellness and everything that the expectant mother does is for the well being of the fetus and the mother.  She is to exercise and do chores but nothing heavy.  She is not to be around anyone or thing that is dead or even go to funerals.  A Ceremony called the Blessingway is done by a holy man.  This puts the mother and baby in tune with the Holy people and causes balance.  All mothers are expected to breast feed their children so that the child will not take on the nature of the animal. The umbilical cord and placenta are buried near home so the child will always return home. The placenta also was buried next to objects of the profession the parents hoped that the child would become.  Sometimes it was given to the grandmother to discard. Or it could be buried in the fire of by the Hogan to ward off evil spirits.  The child is introduced into the community with a baby shower and a Blessingway ceremony

For Iranian rituals associated with birth – http://www.iranchamber.com/culture/articles/rituals_of_birth_birthday.php

Some of these make a lot of sense, or you can see their origins.

If the second (pushing) stage is prolonged violent vomitting can shift baby down. I would think that drinking boiled onion and beer would be a very good emetic, as would the thought of drinking water that anyone’s toenail had been in! Salt on the tongue could also induce vomitting and could cause a reluctant placenta to deliver.

Avoiding contact with dead bodies would also seem wise, infection is not a good idea during pregnancy.

I’ve saved the best until last –

Huichol Indians – The father traditionally sat above his labouring wife in the rafters of the hut, with a rope tied round his testicles. When his partner felt a painful contraction she would tug on the rope so he could experience, share her labour pains with her. How egalitarian of him!


Look carefully I’m not finished with placentas yet. This one is keeping baby warm

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