Birth in Society

ecrivan By ecrivan, 11th Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Babies

Birth is celebrated around the world although the way it is, may differ. Here there is an attempt to discuss other issues connected to the new arrival.

the meaning of birth

The beginning of life is quite an event for a new family; people unite to see the newborn infant in as many cultures that I can think of. In western societies we have been conditioned to think of birth as something happening in a aesthetic environment, with monitoring equipment attached to the mother while she is in labor and then some. In less wealthier nations there is the advent of the child being born on a farm or in a field if the woman has escaped attention and works until she goes into labor. Still in other cases the child may be born as if it was an accident, somehow there are mothers out there that, unbelievably for the educated masses, have had no idea she was pregnant. The intention then is to sensitize the reader to understanding that all kinds of birth take place including the last one mention, including still births, where the infant is not born alive.

Moments of birth may have been announced as was believed at the time that some wise men east of Jerusalem knew that a holy figure would be born by reading the skies. Centuries later it may have been a town crier who stood atop a pedestal and announced changes to a law or a new addition to a royal family. Tribal chiefs would celebrate in ways unknown to American sociologists including Margaret Mead as she lived with Samoan natives and observed their daily practices much of which was based on their folklore.

There might be a birth chant uttered in Hawaii that had originated from Polynesia; it is known that in the Pacific every tribe has its own version of a chant sung at birth. A “sand woman” being impregnated by a god figure accounts for the story of creation in this part of the world. In western Africa ritualistic celebrations announce birth as it announces marriage, initiations and other occasions by beating out rhythms on a variety of instruments that even children take part in.

Birth has helped to redefine populations as well as add numbers. Sometimes one may be born into a caste and that would define his position in society from the start. It is not as if the infant had any choice in the matter. Birth may occur to a wealthy person from an upper level of that caste as it can occur at a lower level, although the caste has been abolished in India it still remains as a means to compartmentalize the population and there is a sense that peoples within a nation can never cross cultural boundaries.
Birth, that renewal of a population is celebrated when its opposite death may mean an unhappy ending to a life of suffering, although death can also be rejoiced in other societies. It is more than welcome in societies that have a need for a growing population but is frowned on in societies that cannot feed their own. The poor still produce more children with the mentality that the lot of the family would eventually be improved by the contribution of the extra children. This has nit worked out in many cases. For the wealthy, in western societies, the attitude of producing kids hinges on the economic prospects of the family unit, the desire of the mother not to have too many children to compromise their welfare. Now that recession has hit North America it is unlikely that wealthy people will want many children and some will opt for zero kids when the future is uncertain.

Birth in a wealthy nation may mean that a child gets a room of his own in an air-conditioned room while he may be sleeping on a dirt floor in a Native American Hogan on the plains. One wishes that the environment will be good to the child in both these instances but experience dictates that poverty does mean more stress especially regarding living conditions, the availability of proper nutrients and the need for security and comfort. In the poorer home the newborn child might have to be strapped onto the back of his mother very soon after birth. Cushioned cribs and clean linen are not available everywhere.


Birth, Coming Of Age, Death, Hawaii, Mead, Samoa, Western Africa

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author avatar ecrivan
Am on my fifth book project although I have written numerous articles, short stories, scripts and plays. There are two poetry chapbooks out on the market together with a mystery novelette and an English language guide. I have also been translating fr...(more)

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author avatar Retired
12th Jul 2010 (#)

Interesting article. I think birth is so often overlooked as 'women's business', marginalised and not seen as important. Nice to read an article about it, as where would the human race be without mothers giving birth...?

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author avatar C. Michael Davis
12th Jul 2010 (#)


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