Becoming a parent has encouraged me more to do a lot more reading and one thing I came across was the different birth traditions from different cultures. With my family originating from the Philippines, pregnancy, birth and the time period after is usually surrounded by a wide variety of beliefs and traditions that involve mother and baby. For instance,burying the placenta, as soon as possible after labour is thought necessary to end labour pains and bleeding.Mothers must be kept very warm, rest completely and stay inside for 30 to 40 days after the birth. I did no such thing, as soon as could get up and go, I was off.
Even though I was born here, I never really knew about the British traditions when welcoming a new addition to your family. So, to read that Britons cross the baby’s palm with silver and place a silver coin in the baby’s hand and take it away immediately for safety seemed interesting. It is thought that if the baby grabs the coin with a closed fist, that they would be cautious as an adult. However, if they dropped the coin, they would be a free spender. This tradition is thought to bring wealth to the baby.
In Japan women aim to deliver their baby without any form of painkillers, meaning an epidural is out of the question. This belief stems from the Buddhist belief that labour pain is tolerated in order to prepare for the difficulties of motherhood – and don’t we all know how difficult that is!
Traditionally, the new mum stays with her family to get the help that she needs whilst resting and bonding with her new baby. The one thing that amazed me the most was the fact that in Japan, they have crying contests to see which baby cries first. The baby who is considered loud and often are considered healthier and will grow much faster – My son would win that, hands down!
In the Dominican Republic, their tradition is done before the new mother to be gives birth. Families place a spoon, knife and fork under 3 different chairs which the new mother to be must choose to sit on. The spoon means a girl, the knife a boy and the fork mean the gender is undetermined – who needs a sonogram when you have this?
New mums in Brazil miss out on a lot of the fun. Can you imagine giving visitors a basket of presents as a way to say thank you for visiting?? Well that is exactly what they do there. They are usually given small items like sweets and souvenirs which includes a note from baby thanking them for visiting. Parents also dress newborns in red, which is considered good luch and thought to keep evil spirits away.
Needless to say, that different cultures have different birth traditions but generally the aim is the same across the board. So long as baby is healthy, happy and safe, that to me is all the tradition I need.