Monday, January 13, 2014

Caring For Pregnant Women in Our Iranian Culture

Prenatal care has an ancient history, a knowledge that hardly has been appreciated or recognized in our culture. The common practice of prenatal care is impacted by the socioeconomic and cultural factors governing each family.

We have to consider proper care for those women who do not have family support. We can not ignore a pregnant woman, why? Remember how we see a pregnant woman in our culture. Mothers considered being two people, one need to nurture the other all the time.

We Iranian do talk about viar or craving for certain type of food. There are many narratives in relation to accommodation of the food that a pregnant woman craves. Lack of that provision believes to be a sin. We believe that some fruits and nuts have direct impact on the baby's beauty, intelligence, brain capacity, length, gender, and hair quality.  Don't we say that apple makes the baby cute or grapes help the new mother to have breast milk?

We have this custom back home, when a pregnant woman walks down the street, she can many times be offered food with certain type of spices or taste. Why do we do that?  I guess not every one in those old days like today could afford good food. Pregnant women were known as needy of extra nutrition.  Elders usually believe that a pregnant woman should be around good, loving, and kind people. Baby in the womb is taught to pick up those positive traits from people around the mother.

For sure there are some superstitious believes that influence our prenatal care. Many times our culturally flourished attitudes create challenges and obstacles for pregnant women.

Today, in the Western cultures there are large scales of research that confirm most of what we know just by the old anecdotes. Now the point is not to boast our ego, we have enough of that; the point is that we should uncover the logic behind what has been passed down to us by our ancestors. What is well-known is that the psychological caring for a pregnant woman do involves many societal resources. It is believed that a pregnant woman should not be distressed because the baby will be impacted.

Another old practice in our Iranian communities is the unrecognized yet, culturally required home-care for a new mother up to forty days. Who does this home-care? Usually parents of the new mother get involved. This timing is believed to be crucial for a new mother to stay on her own feet in order to care for the baby on her own.

Forty days is a time to heal from inside out. This time period is also believed to be crucial for baby development. The postnatal care of mother is another traditionally implicit area. If there are no parents, there is always someone who would come forward and offer help for the mother and the baby.

I guess many embassies in Iran have the everyday interaction with older Iranian generation who apply for visa to go and visit a pregnant daughter living somewhere out of Iran. Being there for a pregnant daughter is absolute important for many Iranian families. Mothers are believed to be on the edge to the so called paradise. To challenge this notion, we may ask whether mothers are not being bribed with the promises of heaven for the hard work they do. Prenatal and postnatal care in our Iranian culture covers every aspect of holding, caring, protecting, connecting, and attaching to the baby.

The point again is not to say that everything we do is the best way, however since there is already existing practice for prenatal and postnatal care, why not illuminating this perception through the lens of science?  Maybe this is something for future research. I hope I am clear: I do not state that we Iranian definitely and hundred present care for our pregnant women. Numbers of abused pregnant women by abusive husbands are too many. The cruelty against Iranian women through the history, pregnant or not, is too complex.

The number of pregnant women having been hanged, raped, or executed in the prisons of our home country are also too many. With all the respect to all those pregnant women who died with their unborn children, this article tries to highlight the importance of care for our pregnant women.

I guess my point is to not to generalize at all. Why not embrace the positive and dismiss the rest?

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