Guatemalan Childbirth Customs

the community chooses an elder male to serve as the pregnant woman's elected father he gives the woman daily gifts and advice throughout her pregnancy the indigenous Guatemalans do not use modern methods of contraception instead they use natural family planning methods that correspond with the Mayan calendar they use a necklace to symbolize a woman's menstrual cycle to track her ovulation this necklace is made of 30 beads each one for each day of her cycle the first bead is red to indicate the first day of minzy's others are brown and green to symbolize periods of infertility and fertility remember you have to be the first to eat the health and safety of your unborn child yes one common belief among the indigenous Guatemalans is that pregnant women must be offered the first piece of food during a meal to prevent malnourished or miscarriages it is customary for women to talk to their unborn children while performing chores because they believe this will help their infant understand the world that they are entering see mija when you come out you'll have to sleep and prepare meals and clean up after people and make sure the house is right for your husband but that's a long time from now you have a lot of growing and developing to do nowhere ease I'm sure you'll be good another custom is to have the husband make decisions for the woman's care honey yes I think it's time to go to the doctor okay can I take a bath sure can I have my herbs please yeah absolutely for example they give them advice such as not to take naps in the afternoon and to avoid cold water also certain herbs and oils are used to prepare the baths to promote maternal and fetal well-being prior to giving birth the pregnant woman and her husband go to a medical facility known as a calcium materna casa materna helps to decrease the maternal mortality and morbidity rates among law tamal and women Oh welcome to Casa Medina guys can have a seat here this is our second visit um when do I need to bring her back need to bring your back next week next week that's why I'm planning on again so now what I want to do is examine her if that's okay with you okay okay then have her lie down here is that okay go ahead and light them yeah okay yes I'm just gonna check your belly here what are you doing doing a fondo assessment and I'm also checking to see what position the baby is in okay so here I can see that's in the cephalic position which means the head is down on this in and that's what we want okay all right you seem to be doing pretty good so it's you back up during birth three couples must be present the woman's husband her children and single women are not permitted during delivery if the child is a boy he is celebrated because he will work hard and hold many responsibilities if the child is a girl she is celebrated because she is an extension of mother earth and of life hurry now I just need you to push okay okay the umbilical cord is tied with red string which symbolizes heat strength and all living things what would you like to have them in your placenta I'd like it buried okay we're very here that for you sit down when we can see mom I miss home and we have to wait eight days before we can see the baby for eight days the mother and the baby are not allowed any visitors during these eight days the bed area is scrubbed with limes because it is thought to strengthen the child's bones the newborns hands are bound to prevent greediness and to symbolize generosity the child's feet are also bound to prevent her from stealing or abusing nature for candles are lit on the four corners of the bed these candles represent the respect the child must have for her community and her home I am a newborn child to the hall I will protect the spirit that grows through life with the child I represent the animal world so that the infant communicate with nature because the infant was born on this particular day I represents the rabbit the rabbit is attracted to pure love and is drawn to harmony and ease and surrenders only his life as the child grows she will be told what her protective spirit is the same receives in the halls can to ensure that the drought maintains good behavior and does not use in the halls knowledge as excuse after the eight days the bounds are broken she is placed in a clean bed with her mother and the community welcomes the baby with a theater you

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