Roots of Childbirth Rituals
It is impossible to turn on the news these days without hearing about Hollywood's expectant mothers. From Salma Hayek to Naomi Watts, fascination with star pregnancies has extended beyond whether the child will be a boy or girl, or what the name will be. We predict that the next obsession will be in how they deliver their starlets.
Ricki Lake gave birth in her bathtub; Meryl Streep and Demi Moore experienced childbirth at home. And, in 2006, speculation about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes was focused on the birthing method that Holmes would choose to deliver their daughter, Suri.
The "TomKitten" watch brought up questions about other labor and delivery practices, especially those from other centuries and countries. Here are nine birth rituals of the past from locations around the world, which show us that not only birthing practices, but our fascination with them, have been passed through time.
Knot a Risk Taken
Greece, approximately 430 B.C. With the onset of birth, midwives were summoned, and the birthing mother was laid down on a bed. The room was checked to ensure that no knots were present, because ancient Greeks believed knots had maleficent powers and could prevent or delay birth. When labor began the mother was moved to a birthing stool, which she crouched over. The midwives massaged her belly, and one rested below the mother to catch the baby. Once born, the baby and mother were cleansed, as birth blood was considered unlucky. A sign was made on the baby's forehead to protect it from the "evil eye," a superstitious belief that a victim, in this case a vulnerable baby, could be cursed by the malevolent gaze from the eye of an envious individual.