Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paraguay Pre-natal and Post-natal Customs

In San Francisco there are 3-4 midwifes who do home deliveries. They have had some schooling and training, and some are nurses at the local health clinic. They bring absolutely nothing as far as equipment or medicines, and they charge between 100 mil and 120 mil (about $16 which is quite expensive for the people out here), depending on whether the delivery occurs during the day or at night. It is a flat fee, and amount of hours spent with the patient has no bearing on the cost. In contrast, an uncomplicated hospital delivery can cost as little as 70 mil, but the bus ticket of 10 mil each way per person means it’s basically the same as paying a midwife, without the hassle of leaving your home and family.

The only medicinal herb we have been told of for postpartum use is culantrillo (the maiden hair fern). It is supposed to diminish post-partum blood loss and prevent infection.

Soon after birth, a red string, called a trapo pytã (red rag), is tied around the wrist of the baby to protect it from mba’asy akãmegua “head sickness”. The baby must be protected from any sound (yelling, singing, or talking) coming from someone who doesn’t like the baby, especially drunks. Some say the child must wear it for 7 days while others say it must be worn until the baby is baptized. If the child is spooked, scared, or hears any sound from a drunk or from anyone who does not like the child, the baby will surely come down with a “head illness” and symptoms of fussiness, colicky crying lasting all afternoon and all night and an inability to breastfeed well. If these symptoms occur, the child must be taken to a medico (curandero…witch doctor). The child is taken inside the médico’s house and a secret prayer is prayed over the baby. If the baby does not soon recover, it must be taken to another medico who specializes in this sort of thing. There are 4-5 medicos in San Francisco. A baby must not pass under a wire fence or risk it's stomach turning bad.

On the morning of the 7th day, before sunrise, the baby must be taken out of the home by a parent to go and visit friends or relatives.

Infants should be baptized soon after birth. The price is 20 mil ($5). This cost prevents many poor families from having their children baptized. The parents and godparents must together attend 7 classes at the church before the baptism is allowed to proceed.

After giving birth, a mother must no lift heavy things, do strenuous work or wash her hair for 40 days. If she washes her hair, she is sure to get a fever or go crazy. She cannot bath for 15 days. She may also not use a knife for 3 days after giving birth. If she does, it is said that she will start bleeding again.

Zulma's baby who now has a name, Elias


paraguayalyssa said...

Wow. This was such an interesting post, Amy. Thank you! It reminds me of Paraguay's true lostness. In Villarrica, it's so much more "urban" and the bondage is seen more in sexual depravity, gossip, substance abuse, sexual depravity, pride, discrimination, and sexual depravity. It's easy to forget the non-western bondage in the rural areas. Thank you.

Abbie said...

Oh wow! No bath for 15 days after having a baby??? What a terrible feeling! 40 days of no hair washing for the new mom? I'll have to tell Jarud to count his blessings.

Naomi said...

I know this was a few posts ago, but I laughed out loud at this one:
"As we were getting ready to go to a funeral I told all the kids to behave – no running, laughing or loud talking. I mentioned that it would be appropriate to look sad. As we got out of the car Ginny turned to our friend and said, “Mommy wants us to pretend to be sad.” During the funeral Ginny saw tears in my ears and she commented, “You are a very good pretender.”

Kids say the funniest things!!

Love ya friend!!!!

Nicole Hoff said...

Wow how interesting. I'm a student midwife and lactation consultant in Harlingen, Tx and so it is neat to hear childbirth traditions in other countries.

Amy, I have to say thank you for the amazing strides you took to promote breastfeeding here. I did a 2 yr lactation internship at Vbmc and without your pioneering the program I do not know what breastfeeding mothers would have done then and now (including me-you were my LC many yrs ago. In fact I was a patient with the residency clinic and saw your husband too).

I now have my own private practice ( lactation, childbirth ed, Doula) now but the Vbmc LC is wonderful and I pray they continue with the breastfeeding services.

Your work is still recognized here and blessing others. I'll pray for your family and mission.

God bless , Nicole Hoff
Ps. We have a mutual friend in Brooke Burns and that's how I found this blog.