A lotus birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut and attached to the baby after birth. The baby typically remains attached to the placenta for about three to ten days until the cord naturally separates from the belly button. There are generally two schools of thought when approaching the idea of a lotus birth.
The Attached Placenta
Those who are proponents of “natural” birth that do not take place in hospitals or with medical intervention. This camp argues that lotus birth is returning the to the natural way of things and that leaving the cord attached aids the baby both mentally and emotionally as well as providing physical benefits. The second school of thought is against leaving the cord attached.
It is thought that clamping the cord helps to increase the arterial blood pressure in neonatal circulation, which means blood flow to critical structures like the heart and brain are increased. Doctors also believe that leaving the placenta for a time after birth can increase the risk of infection in the placenta which could spread to the baby.
Wedding Cake on the Head
There is a popular tradition in Ireland where new parents sprinkle a piece of their saved wedding cake on top of their newborns head while the baby is being baptized. Apparently, this tradition is said to symbolize the circle of life. The Irish often choose a specific type of cake to use on the top tier of their wedding cakes for this reason. They use a whiskey fruitcake which is believed to bring good luck in fertility.
More Irish Folklore
Fairies are something the Irish are very superstitious about, they are often called “fae”. In the United States we often think of fairies as “Tinkerbell-esque,” however that is not the case with these tiny tricksters. The folklore says that these mischievous fairies will swap babies from their cribs with changelings.
Changelings are said to be fairy children left in place of human children. They would take the newborns off to the Land of the Fae to raise as their own. It seems as though fairies must not care for their own children too much if the human children are so coveted.
Protective Color Red
In order to prevent fairy thefts from happening to their newborns, some Irish mothers tie a red ribbon to the baby’s crib until the baby turns one. Some moms go even further and sew a few stitches of red thread into every article of their baby’s clothes. Apparently, fairies loathe the color red!
When an Irish bride gets married they are given a special handkerchief to carry while they walk down the aisle. It is a common Irish tradition to turn the handkerchief into something the baby can wear during their baptism, often a baby bonnet. If it isn’t used for that it is commonly used as some other kind of baby item, such as a bib.
Another Irish tradition is to toast, or to “wet the baby’s head”. This tradition has obviously been adopted into many cultures since the origination. In the Irish practice, the baby’s father and his friends toast to the newborn’s health and happiness. Of course this was done traditionally with Irish whiskey!
The Irish Coin
Clearly, the Irish are some extremely superstitious people. Yet another example of their superstition is the use of a coin during the baptism of a child. In the christening, the baby is given a silver coin to hold in their hand, this is thought to bring the child good financial fortune and prosperity for the rest of their life.
In a particular shrine in Maharashtra, India they have long practiced the tradition of tossing newborns off the side of a fifty foot temple. They have apparently undertaken this process for over half a millennium. That’s a long time! It makes you wonder how many times the practice has gone wrong.
Catching Babies With A Sheet
This practice exists because it is thought to bring good fortune as well as endow the newborn possess the qualities of courage and smarts. Don’t worry, congregation members of the shrine line up below carrying a stretched out sheet in order to catch the infants before they fall. Yikes, sounds pretty risky!
Vietnam: Constant Mother-in-Law
In Vietnam, new mothers must confine themselves for thirty or forty days after the birth of their new child. While that sounds bad enough, these poor ladies get the added pleasure of having their mother-in-law constantly present. The mother-in-law is said to move into the martial home for a full month after the birth.
The Mother-In-Law Move In
Her job is to help her son keep up with the house, as well as preparing soups thought to have medicinal properties for the new mother. This makes you wonder how many times does this practice end in divorce for the couple? Would you want your mother-in-law to move in with you?
A water birth is one practice that has actually been adopted in the Western World and seems to be gaining popularity. A water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water. There are a variety of ways this is done. Some women want to spend the majority of their labor in the water and then get out only for the actual birth and delivery.
Methods and Reasons of Birthing in Water
While other mothers decide to stay in the water for the actual delivery and birth as well. It is believed that since the baby has been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birthing in water creates a similar environment which lessons birth trauma and is also more soothing for the mother as well.
History of Water Birth
Some purport that water births can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, over 8,000 years ago, and say that there are ancient drawings which may depict the water births of pharaohs. Similar stories derive from the 2700 BC Minoan civilization on the Greek island of Crete, where women labored and birthed in water.
Would You Try A Water Birth?
In North American, the Chumash Indian tribes also tell stories of women laboring in natural water forms with dolphins nearby. There are many oral traditions from ancient cultures which lead historians to believe that water births have been a practice for a very long time. Would you give water birth a shot?
Mayan Babies in Cold Water
The Mayan are an indigenous group of people located in MesoAmerica. This is located on and below the equator, so in a very hot climate. The Mayas have adopted a variety of techniques to living in this very hot weather and the conditions it causes. One method in particular looks at heat rash.
Ice Water Actually Works?
In order to prevent and get rid of heat rash and heat stroke Mayan mothers throw babies into a bath of icy water. Usually babies scream their heads off (understandably) while dunked in the freezing water. The mothers claim the baby goes to sleep immediately following the bath. Witnesses claim that an ice bath actually does work and cure heat rash.
Spitting on the Baby
A few different tribes in Africa have strange traditions revolving around human saliva. The Wolof people of Mauritania believe that spit carries the words of the mouth it comes from, so they spit on babies so that their words of blessing will quite literally stick to them. When a new baby arrives, men spit inside the babies ear and women will spit on its face. Then all of this saliva is rubbed all over the baby’s head.
In Nigeria, the Igbo tribe has a similar tribe but goes even further. After a baby arrives, it is taken to the family’s ancestral home. Whoever in the family is the greatest storyteller chews on alligator pepper. They then spit it on a finger and put it inside the baby’s mouth. This transfer of spit is supposed to help the child grow up to be a great storyteller as well.
A Silent birth is a Scientology practice where the room is supposed to be as silent as possible. This includes the mother making noise as well as anyone attending the birth. Someone yelling “push!” will not be heard here. The founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard taught that this was because the baby being born would retain memories of the traumatic birth and it would affect them later in life.
Celebrity Silent Births
Allegedly Scientologist Kelly Preston and former Scientologist Katie Holmes both had silent births. This seems like a hard thing to do depending on the nature of your birth. Was this failed science-fiction writer somehow also a genius regarding human childbirth? Would you try this or is it too out there?
Treating the Afterbirth as a Dead Twin
Many African countries have rituals concerning the placenta, and the countries of Nigeria and Ghana are no different. In these countries, the new parents treat the placenta as though it were a living thing, kind of like the dead twin of the new child. The placenta is given full burial rites. Often, it is buried under a tree, and the spot is called “zan boko.”
Keep The Baby Warm!
Does this sound familiar? “You better keep that baby warm!” It seems like many cultures are obsessed with keeping the warmth of a baby, when in modern society shelter and electricity are extremely useful in ensuring this is accomplished. Mexican culture is no different. In Mexican folklore there is a belief that during childbirth a woman’s womb loses heat.
Body Blocking Bad Juju
Some believe that this causes the ovaries and genitals to soften and never return to how they were before baby. In order to prevent the baby from getting cold (and to prevent any bad juju), traditional midwives often place their own body between the woman’s legs during the moment of birth.
No Touching the Ground
For Balinese babies, there is a strange tradition that takes place. The tradition says that a baby’s feet cannot touch the ground for 105 days after the birth. The baby must be instead continuously held until the time has passed. This actually seems pretty typical as babies cannot walk at this time anyway so their little feet are not likely to touch the floor!
The placenta is an organ which provides the baby with nutrition while inside of the mother. Whatever the mother eats gets broken down and provided for the fetus. Placenta eating is a belief in a traditional belief that has existed in multiple cultures over time, and has seemingly even gained popularity in Western cultures as of late.
Traditional Placenta Practices
The mother eats her own placenta after birth supposedly to absorb hormones and other nutrients. This is something that many species of animals do in the wild to sustain themselves after birth. China, Jamaica, and even parts of India are known for traditional medicine recommending placenta eating for a variety of reasons stemming from supernatural beliefs.
Modern Day Placenta Traditions
Mothers who currently engage in this process swear that eating the placenta helps to prevent postpartum depression. They also prepare in a variety of modern ways like in a smoothie or capsule. Science is still skeptical, largely because cooking the placenta will destroy the majority of nutrients and hormones and eating it raw is also a risk for infection.
The “You Gotta Move” Birth of Pakistan
In the Kalash valley of Pakistan, a mother must move into another home a little while before her baby is born. The mother moves into a building painted with animal murals and containing a shrine to the goddess of birth. Women who are able to menstruate are also considered unclean and are the only ones allowed to enter the building and aid the woman in the birth.
Zuo Yue Zi
In China there is a tradition called “zuo yue zi,” which translates to “sitting out the month.” New mothers must stay in the home for a thirty to forty day period after the birth of their baby. This is believed to prevent the new mother from being exposed to anything that can make the mother, and thereby the baby, weak or sick. Mothers must avoid the outdoors, open windows, and air conditioners and fans.
Chinese Burning Walk
China has quite the variety of strange birth customs. Akin to the traditional custom of carrying a bride over the threshold, when a Chinese couple marry they also engage in this common practice. However, in addition to regular threshold carrying, the husband must also carry his new wife over burning coals.
An Easy Birth
This is supposed to ensure that the new wife will be able to have children and go through a birth without any problems. It seems like walking over burning coals could go wrong very easily, with one tiny misstep. Wives, do you think your husband would do this for you? Husbands, would you do this for your wives?
Other Chinese Birth Bans
Chinese women also have a number of restrictions placed on them during pregnancy. A pregnant woman must not gossip or laugh loudly. She also is not supposed to get angry or have any bad thoughts. She also cannot look at any colors that clash. Further, in the category of strange color customs she must only eat light colored food.
Weird Customs to Prevent Harm to Baby
This is to ensure that she will have a light-skinned baby. The mother-to-be must also never sit on a crooked mat or else it will cause her child to be deformed. It is also said that she must sleep with a knife so that it will scare away any bad spirits come to harm the child.
Her home must not be worked on at all during pregnancy, so forget that kitchen remodel! And lastly, the mother is prohibited from having intercourse, which is kind of ironic as it’s what got her into this situation in the first place. Would you be willing to engage in these practices during your pregnancy?
An ethnic minority in China, The Manchu people engage in a very ritual when it comes to affection for their newborns. Apparently, this showing of “love” is directed at their child’s genitals. Girls receive “genital tickling” and boys receive fellatio from their mothers. Other cultures have apparently also engaged in similar practices.
Parental Love or Abuse?
Reportedly this has gone on with some peoples in the countries of Thailand, Japan, and India. Interestingly, the Manchu consider kisses to be sexual and would never kiss their child’s face, yet fellatio of a baby is not considered a sexual act. What do you think? Is this practice simply outrageous or is this just another cultural difference?