Throughout time, ritual and lore have surrounded pregnancy and childbirth. Surprisingly, the Hebrew Bible does not relegate these two mysteries of human existence exclusively to the realms of women. Men in crisis situations—and even God—are also compared to women giving birth. In Isa , for example, YHWH gasps and pants like a woman in childbirth before becoming a warrior. The authors of the Hebrew Bible recognized that giving birth and undergoing crisis are both existential human events, where a threshold is crossed into either life or death.
One notable Ancient pregnancy rituals was that a poultice tied to the thigh could ease the difficulty of labor which, you've got to admit, sounds better than the above-mentioned corn tampon. Midwives and doctors relied on their most trustworthy instruments — their hands, with which they could Ancient pregnancy rituals encourage the opening of the uterus or attempt to reposition a baby whose presentation was poor. Human Origins. From the mother's belt to wreaths on the walls, everything Anicent the vicinity had to be rapidly unknotted. Upon birth, the Dukun cuts the cord, bathes and wraps the baby in a Anciet. After all, everyone has to have a name, and names often carry spiritual significance.
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We all know that the wonders of the ancient Egyptian pantheon are many and so amazing — and the deities that lurk within that pantheon are almost impossible to count and mention. Creating marketing graphics private Advertise with us. Where Was the Mysterious Kingdom of Yam? The ancient Egyptians, for example, had two deities in charge of childbirth. We have several documents describing or portraying delivery, but in every such case the mother is being assisted by goddesses. This time her in-laws and other relatives come to visit her with bakery goods. One prayer proclaims Ancient pregnancy rituals heavens Ancietn rejoicing at the coming birth and beseeches Hathor to be with the mother while she delivers in her birth pavilion. It was often believed that the expectant mother and Ancient pregnancy rituals baby were vulnerable to eituals supernatural forces. After the placenta was delivered, the grandmother of the new mother would throw it in the river to be washed downstream. The prediction is based on the age of the mother at the moment of the baby's conception. Sikhs frequently welcome new babies into their communities with great fanfare. Halfway up a near-vertical ravine in the Andes, someone carved an inverted V-shaped entrance into the mountainside. All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should Endless sex considered as opinion only. Share this:.
How did Native American women give birth, or what were their practices or beliefs in giving birth?
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- People are choosing to have fewer children.
- It was often believed that the expectant mother and her baby were vulnerable to malevolent supernatural forces.
- Traditional Chinese beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth are still practiced in parts of China.
For most of human history, childbirth was one of the most dangerous things that a woman could do; indeed, it still is for many women. So, understandably, a lot of ancient civilizations had rituals, spells and ceremonies to try and make every aspect of childbearing go smoothly, from assuring the fertility of a woman to easing the delivery of a baby — and many ancient cultures had detailed birth manuals, because getting the rituals right could get seriously complicated.
We still have many beliefs about birth and the "right" way to do things: witness the many online arguments about the various virtues of hospital birth versus home birth, giving birth naturally versus using painkilling medications , working with a doulas versus only seeing doctors, and basically any other choice involved in the birthing process.
So you can imagine how intense the conversations probably got, back in the ancient world, when expectant mothers were choosing between drinking goose semen or sitting on a dog's placenta, or wondering whether you truly needed four strong women to shake you intensely in order to get some contractions going. We're lucky no one had invented parenting message boards yet. Here are six ancient beliefs about childbirth that will either make you want to cross your legs, or feel pangs of serious sympathy for the women who had to go through this thousands of years ago.
Modern gynecology looks like magic in comparison. If we believe a gynecological document called the Kahun Medical Papyrus that is currently archived at the University College in London, the ancient Egyptians were very invested in the idea of childbearing capability itself.
Before you even got into the whole "birthing" problem, you had to figure out whether you or your chosen lady could get knocked up.
The Kahun Papyrus — which, incidentally, is the oldest medical text in history — details some pretty interesting tests to determine fertility. Spoiler: they're not exactly dignified. One particularly brutal method was to hit the woman on a particular part of her lip; if it didn't hurt, she was thought to be infertile forever.
But the worse one, in my opinion, was the test involving a heap of dirt. How's this for fertility testing: a woman sits on a mound of dirt that's been soaked in old beer, and possibly mixed with fruit and dates. For every time she throws up while sitting there, that's one child she'll have in the future. If she's got a strong stomach, though, no kids for her which seems to fly in the face of everything we know about motherhood now, i. The ancient Egyptians also had some interesting rituals when it came to actually getting birth itself started.
One was to cast spells on an amulet placed on the forehead of the pregnant woman, which doesn't sound particularly bad — but there were a number of more invasive options. Another medical text, the Ebers Papyrus, suggests putting a few concoctions — including honey soaked with hemp, or a handful of ground corn — up the vagina itself to make labor begin. No word on how the babies born via this method felt about coming into this world basically breaded like a cutlet. Ancient Greek mothers-to-be were subject to a number of superstitions about the whole birthing process and what could be done to make it go more smoothly.
One notable belief was that a poultice tied to the thigh could ease the difficulty of labor which, you've got to admit, sounds better than the above-mentioned corn tampon. Another more abstract superstition was the idea that having any knots in the delivery room would serve as a magical "obstacle" to the baby's birth, so they all had to be undone.
From the mother's belt to wreaths on the walls, everything in the vicinity had to be rapidly unknotted. Knots were regarded as nasty symbols of general evildoing, so woe betide you if you happened to attend an ancient Greek birth with a fancy plait in your hair. Ancient Greek beliefs about the medical treatment of various problems during childbirth were preserved well into the Middle Ages — meaning that the treatments recommended by people like Hippocrates and Galen would have been pretty familiar to medieval ladies.
Poor them. So when medical texts from ancient Greece recommend, say, being shaken violently by four women to induce labor, you know it happened for at least a thousand years.
Yes, you read that right. One remedy for starting contractions involved getting four women one for each limb on the pregnant woman , and demanding that they shake her extremely hard at least ten times — plus a few more after she'd lain down. The idea, presumably, was to "shake" the baby loose, though it can't have been much fun for the mom. According to Delores LaPratt, a researcher at McGill University, ancient Anglo-Saxon women had their own peculiar way of guaranteeing that their pregnancies would be easy and their births without complications: perform a ritual dance involving one dead man and one live one.
The woman in question would first step over the grave of a dead man, reciting a charm in Anglo-Saxon: "This is my remedy for hateful slow birth, this is my remedy for heavy difficult birth, this is my remedy for hateful imperfect birth. When it comes to seriously disgusting medical remedies and beliefs, the ancient Greeks — and Pliny The Elder in particular — are kind of inspiring.
There's not a single substance in nature that they didn't contemplate using for some medical purpose or other. Getting yourself well in ancient Greece required a total lack of squeamishness, and that included childbirth.
Pliny did, at least, give lots of options. If you were having a difficult delivery, and you for some inexplicable reason didn't want to drink goose semen mixed with water, you could also drink the liquid from the uterus of a weasel, or a concoction of powdered sow's dung. Not thirsty? Then the fat of a hyena could be burned underneath you if you like, or perhaps you'd prefer having the placenta of a dog placed on your thighs?
The menu was endless. To be honest, that may have been the point: make the remedies so disgusting that birth, itself, looks like an easy job.
Ancient pregnancy rituals. What Rituals Were Needed to Insure Protection?
Baptism of infants is common practice in Catholicism and viewed as a way of cleansing the child of " original sin. Ear piercing. Some Hindus choose to have their baby's ears pierced in a ritual called Karnavedha. The ceremony typically takes place within the first or third year after birth and may be done simultaneously with the mundan, or head shaving, ritual.
Creatas via Getty Images. The chosen godparent typically holds the baby during their baptism ceremony. As Jesuit priest, Rev. First words. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Come to prayer. The prayer is typically whispered into the right ear of the child by his or her father.
Family shrine. Marvin Fox via Getty Images. Introduction to community. Michael Wheatley via Getty Images. Sikhs frequently welcome new babies into their communities with great fanfare. The family chooses a name by using the first letter of the hymn on the page opened. The baby's name is then announced to the congregation. Something sweet. Magone via Getty Images. Hindus typically use honey exclusively for the ritual, called Jatakarma.
Naming ceremonies. ImagesBazaar via Getty Images. After all, everyone has to have a name, and names often carry spiritual significance. In Judaism, baby's are often given both Hebrew and secular names. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Many thanks, Linnea! So glad you liked it. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.
Egyptian God, Bes. Relief of a woman in birthing chair. A family making their offerings to the Gods. Egyptian women and children.
Call the Roman midwife: What Was Childbirth Like in Ancient Rome? - HistoryExtra
The experience of giving birth is both universal and unique all at once. Although women have been doing it since the dawn of humanity, the process, politics and social norms around pregnancy and birth have evolved as medical practitioners and mothers become more experienced in birthing methods.
That being said, many societies' rituals and customs have remained sacred throughout centuries, while others have recently implemented new techniques and associations with childbirth.
Scroll to the bottom to find out more. During this time, they solely dedicate themselves to breastfeeding and taking care of the baby. Other members of the family often pitch in with cooking, cleaning and watching the rest of the children. The placenta is cleaned , placed in a container, and buried outside of the home as part of an intricate and detailed ceremony. In Japan, childbirth is believed to be a natural and beautiful experience that does not end once the baby comes into the world.
Other family members are expected to help out with chores as she bonds with the new baby. Although home births are having somewhat of an underground renaissance in the United States , the practice has a historical precedent in the Netherlands. Although only about 20 percent of births in the Netherlands are now done at home, that number is the highest in the Western world.
The Dutch have a tendency to view birth as a natural part of life as opposed to an illness, which is how some women feel that the medical system tends to treat it in other developed countries. While it is customary in many places across the globe to bring gifts to a new mother, it is rare for her to give a gift to you. However, in Brazil, many new moms do exactly that when visitors come to the hospital after childbirth.
In Turkey, it is traditional for new mothers to drink Lohusa Serbeti , a beverage made with cinnamon, sugar and red food coloring. It is first served to the new mom in the hospital, and then is enjoyed at home by guests who come to pay the new infant a visit. In Pakistan and other Islamic republics, aqiqah is a common practice. The Germans' maternal health care has been lauded for its thoughtfulness and ease.
Although it may seem like a simple custom, the tradition of Omugwo , which simply refers to postpartum care, is incredibly valuable to many Nigerian families.
In Omugwo , the grandmother gives the baby his or her first bath, if she is available. If the grandmother is not around, an aunt or close friend may step in.
This small gesture shows the mother that she is not alone in childrearing, and the community of women will rally around her. While circumcision has become commonplace in many Western cultures, the Brit Milah is a Jewish ritual during which baby boys are circumcised and named eight days after they are born.
Many Jews, in Israel and around the world, participate in the ancient practice, which often takes place during morning prayers and is followed by a festive meal. A few months ago, Quartz journalist Lisa Selin Davis noticed that in all social media photos, her newborn baby, and all her friends newborn babies, were wrapped in the exact same style blanket, no matter which hospital they were born in, and where they were located across the country.
Known as the Kuddle-Up blanket, a company called Medline started making them 60 years ago in an effort to update the drab beige hospital blanket. Although they can be found around the world, and some American hospitals still use their own blankets and patterns, this wrap has become symbolic of the miracle of birth across the United States.
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All rights reserved. Latin America: La Cuarentena. Bali: Burying the Placenta. The Netherlands: Home Birthing. Turkey: Lohusa Serbeti. Pakistan: Aqiqah. Israel: Brit Milah. United States: The Baby Blanket. Suggest a correction. Start Really Young.
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