Wednesday, 25 January 2012

#17 Witch babies

FACT OF THE DAY: The Bariba culture believes that witch babies can be detected by certain signs at birth. This has a huge impact on the mother’s experience of childbirth

The Bariba are one of the non-Western cultures I mentioned where the cultural ideal is for women to give birth alone; post #16

The Bariba number about half a million straddling the borders of Benin, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, and are nominally Muslim. However, like many cultures they have not abandoned their traditional ‘pagan’ religion, and daily life is influenced by both religions.

Their traditional religion gives the Bariba a strong belief in witches and sorcery (this is the part of the world where voodoo originated).

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

#16 Freebirthing, Dude!

FACT OF THE DAY: It may sound like an high adrenaline sport, but freebirthing is actually a movement started in the USA encouraging women to give birth alone.

I was doing some reading about giving birth alone in non-western cultures and came across quite a few websites about freebirthing, (also sometimes called Unassisted Birth or even a Do-It-Yourself birth) about women in the west who give birth alone.

I had never heard of freebirthing before. These women decide to give birth at home, specifically choosing not to have any medical staff present, and often choose not even to have their husband or partner present.

I joke about it being like high adrenaline sport, but actually it turns out some women do equate it to an adrenaline rush – the ‘thrill of the catch’ as they grab their own baby on it’s way out.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

#15 Pity the hyena mother

FACT OF THE DAY: It turns out that our bodies are not the only ones that are badly designed for childbirth. Hyenas give birth through their CLITORIS!

In a previous post I wrote about us humans being relatively badly designed for childbirth compared to the other great apes. (Post #3  Because of our large brain size our babies have big heads, and because we walk upright our pelvis has a small hole – the combination of these two factors can be lethal for mother and baby.

When you think about it, this is a pretty major design fault. No doubt some population geneticist could explain the costs and benefits to me, but from a species point of view (never mind the individual woman’s point of view) it seems odd to kill off one generation in producing the next.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

#14 Giving birth in front of Grandpa

FACT OF THE DAY: In cultures that believe in reincarnation, many family members may gather to witness the rebirth of their ancestor – including Grandpa

I gave birth to all three of my babies in hospital, and at the moment of delivery there were three people with me; my husband, a midwife and a doctor (in fact a rather dishy male doctor at my second delivery which was either a welcome surprise or rather off-putting, I couldn’t work out which).

In terms of family, this is definitely what I wanted. I positively wanted my husband there, and I positively didn’t want anyone else there to see my emotional meltdowns and private parts.