We are a wide and varied community at Babyology – with mums and dads from all over the world getting their daily fix of parenting news, views and products through our social media channels and website. And we love when you share your diversity – so here’s a whole host of interesting and insightful birth traditions that our Babyologists recently revealed.
Earlier this month we brought you the story of the cultural tradition of Chinese confinement. Mothers stay indoors for a month, and are cared for by family members, as they recover from birth. More recently the tradition has become big business, with specifically-designed hospitals and pricey ‘confinement ladies’ who have made a career from looking after newborns and their mothers. We asked our readers what post-birth cultural traditions they adhered to, and the answers are fascinating.
Reader Nivey Govender shared the Sri Lankan tradition of allowing mothers sufficient time to recover after birth:
“In our culture women who have just given birth are not allowed to “touch the stove for one month” and are asked to take rest. The tradition was an indirect way of keeping the woman from undertaking her usual housekeeping duties and to instead spend time getting to know her baby and cementing that bond. I think it’s a very sweet tradition. I’m not sure how many people still follow it because they can’t or don’t have the luxury of that type of post-natal care but the premise behind it definitely holds an important message- that women deserve good care after having a baby.”
Marina Parevski revealed the intricate post-birth rituals followed by many Macedonians:
“We don’t leave the house for six weeks. On the 40th day we go to church and both mum and baby are blessed. We then visit three homes before we head back to our home. Once this period is over that’s when family and friends come to visit. I think it’s great. Gives you time to adjust and work out your routine and baby especially if you have other children as well. I was in hospital for five days and that’s more than enough.”
Nadia Poulose shared the tradition that her family will be adhering to:
“I’m Malay and in our culture the new mum and baby must have a confinement of 40 days after birth. No cleaning, cooking, going out. Really just feeding baby. I’m due in two weeks and my mum is staying with me already … to help out before baby comes too.”
Stephanie Davidson shared her husband’s beautiful cultural tradition:
“My husband is African and in his culture I am not allowed to leave the house for 30 days, and baby is not allowed to be seen by anyone other than family for the first six weeks, as it is believed that the baby’s soul is pure in those few weeks.”
Even expats continue to uphold traditions, as Caroline Cañete Villaflor revealed:
“Thirty years in Australia now and I still follow most traditions, including this one. With both my girls, after coming home from the hospital, I didn’t leave the house for 40 days. My partner and mum did everything. The grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, everything. It was amazing. I loved every minute just bonding with my babies.
“Filipino tradition won’t allow the new mum to do any cooking, cleaning, bending, lifting or reaching up for anything. Back home, generally all the women in the family/village will rally around and do all these things for the new mum. My mum says also that in her days (and in my grandmother’s days and so on), new mums weren’t supposed to shower/bathe either for 40 days, only just wiping your body down with hot water. But I couldn’t do that. I had to shower everyday. And new mums aren’t to drink anything cold either. And back in the days, they had to stay in a dark room. All of this was to help the new mum get all her strength back after childbirth. And lots of soups with ginger helps with milk supply for breastfeeding. All these things my mum teaches/shows us, we embrace. I love it.”
It’s a similar story for Hale Zeynep Topkara:
“Turkish tradition as well (we) stay at home for 40 days (you can leave if you want, there’s no rule against it) and mum or mother in law or any one that comes and visits will bring a dish and help clean dishes or tidy up. So lucky I had my mum there to help. It’s actually really normal in my culture I think because there isn’t really an Aussie culture when it comes to birth someone helping out for a month after birth seems amazing. But it’s actually the norm for us.”
Sophie Krokos’ cultural tradition also included a period of ‘confinement’:
“I am Greek we are not allowed to leave the house or have visitors for 40 days, then mum and baby get blessed by a priest, it suited me just fine, time to recover and get settled with the baby.”
Nellie Lovegrove’s cultural tradition is aimed at highlighting the importance of mother and baby:
“I’m Persian and opposite what people think about Middle Eastern countries, you really get pampered when you are pregnant and baby is born. Every one puts her/ his effort to help you as you are important and baby is very important. They look after baby so you get to have a shower, cook you hearty meals and clean your house. I missed all that to be a help to my partner here instead of receiving much help!!”
Lebanese tradition revolves around the mother’s rest, says Marwah Saleh-Almoussawi:
“Lebanese women are encouraged to rest for the first 40 days as they say in this time their graves are open. Mostly, the woman stays at her mother’s to be taken care of or her mother goes to her house.”
Thanks to our Babyology community for giving us a glimpse into their post-birth traditions!