A world of Babies chapter summary
The Warlpiri society originates from Australia is famous for their indigenous status. The society is also famous for women who outlive their male counterparts. However, the society is complex and intertwined in a way that is also impressive. The community is divided into subsections, and within each subsection, there are skin groups. Within the society, the Warlpiri have stringent rules concerning socialization especially among family members. The society rotates around religion and traditional rituals especially the concept of “jukurrpa” or “the dreaming”. The society has a close bond with the spirit world that is brought out in the way they constantly please the spirits in exchange for good luck.
Among the Warlpiri, the ceremony of giving birth or “borning” is a strictly traditional affair. The whole process is surrounded by traditions concerning the place to deliver and even the midwife to deliver the child. They follow the regulations of the manual or the “Old Law”. Children were believed to have ancestral powers and could therefore control everything. When women conceive children, the spirit enters them and gives them a spirit. This connection between newborns and spirits was made for reminding children about their roots and culture. The Warlpiri women were very casual about sexual activity and reproduction. They were more aggressive and even encouraged their husbands to engage in the rituals. The rituals before any sexual activity were meant to enhance fertility, cast away any evil spirits and ask the gods for favor and success as a family.
The older woman, Sophia L. was important in narrating the steps in after the sexual rituals. The borning period was also very well illustrated. She explained the physical changes that would occur that would signal whether a woman had conceived such as a pause in the menstrual flow, nausea and vomiting. Sophia also mentioned the physical changes that would happen such as having a gut feeling of the entry of the infant’s spirit into the mother or a vision of the ancestral dream. For the Warlpiri people, getting pregnant signified a fusion between the spirits of the land and that of the people.
The Fulani society is found in West Africa. They are predominantly pastoralists that depended on the meat, milk and other livestock products. The mothers in this society are rather aggressive and play a large role in shaping the cultural perspectives of their infants. As soon as they are born, Fulani mothers move in to indoctrinate a child to embrace Fulani attitudes, behavior and practices such as caring, responsibility and reservation. The children were however treated in a way that might seem inhuman for instance being given enemas twice a day until they would be able to walk. Despite all these instances of perceived mistreatment, Fulani children grew up as some of the healthiest and most intelligent.
Just before childbirth occurred, a pregnant woman was expected to choose a competent woman to assist her in giving birth. Ideally, the woman would be her grandmother but in most cases, she was either dead or too frail. In an event that the grandmother would not perform the task, the woman would opt for another in law or an older, experienced equivalent. Competence was however the biggest qualification for the midwife. The husband was excluded from all the activities surrounding childbirth. It was only after the baby was born that word would be sent to the father. There were however, bizarre rituals for hastening the menstrual flow such as new mothers squatting over a smoldering pile of leaves. The child was also subjected to various rituals to promote its growth and safety from evil spirits. The evil spirits would be tricked by either rolling the child in cow dung or calling him an ugly name to make him undesirable.
Among the Ifaluk people, children are not [perceived as being born with any form of perception or intelligence. Their mothers assume they are brainless and that communication with them would be senseless. Therefore, mothers device ways of carrying children that hides them from the view of people. The society is based on a hierarchical system that ensured that all mothers who had children were exposed to the best in the village. The Ifaluk fathers were also secluded from the child delivery and rearing process, as they can be a threat to the child either directly or indirectly.
The Ifaluk people believed that conception resulted from a joint effort between sexual intercourse and the intervention of the male chief god, Aluelap. Several taboos had to be observed by the pregnant woman such as doing light work and eating healthy. However, when they were almost due, pregnant women were encouraged to do heavier work again to trigger a speedy delivery. The communal nature of the Ifaluk people extended into adoption of children who were orphaned. Clan members presented themselves to be assessed for adoption purposes by the rest of the community. Families even exchanged boys and girls when it was evident that one family had only girls or only boys. Pregnant women had a special birth hut (weluar) where they would be accompanied with other midwives and there they would give birth.
It is evident that the phenomenon of child bearing and rearing is regarded as an important part of the woman and the rest of the community. Human beings residing in various countries in the world subscribe to varied viewpoints about the character and the development of children. After the preliminary chapter, the following chapters were written like a childcare handbook. Each “guidebook” started with a brief background and then went on to advice future and current parents on a broad choice of themes.
Question for discussion
Is there an efficient and perfect way to give birth and rear infants?
Prospective parents are constantly worried about the best environment, time, method and even person delivering their infant. Their constant concern is to choose the best options to make sure their child gets the best services and professionals. However, raising a child also presents the same problems. As the child grows, it becomes more complex. It is important to realize that each aspect of child delivery will have an impact on the child’s physical, mental and social stature. There is no clear or direct answer to such a question. However, seeking the best for a child is a natural instinct for a parent and therefore, most infants get the best in life automatically.
In the Puritan society, babies were treated for colic using a mixture of “boiled entrails and skin of a wolf” (Lynn 19). To the Puritans, it was their way of ridding the child’s body of all evil. These shocking extremities demonstrated how the customs for rearing children in any civilization was sensible when analyzed within the context or perspective of that community.
Lynn Andrea. Scholars, students explore child-rearing methods around world — then collaborate on inventive set of ‘manuals’. News Bureau. 20 (5). Accessed on 17 January 2013. Retrieved from http://news.illinois.edu/ii/00/0907wob.html