Members of a local Afghan Women's Association have been sharing their memories of childbirth and associated practices at a series of workshops organised by Thackray Medical Museum and the University of Leeds. The women, who now live in Leeds, have reflected on the similarities and differences in approaches to childbirth in Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria and the UK and are helping to create an online exhibition linked to the museum's 'Having a Baby' gallery.
At our workshop, participants told us about a traditional type of crib which used to be commonly used in Afghanistan. The cribs in the image are from Uzbekistan, but the Afghan cribs were of a similar design. Babies would be swaddled and strapped into the bed, which has a hole in the base, under which a pot is placed to catch solid waste, whilst urine passes through a pipe into a separate container.
Food plays an important role in helping new mothers to recover from childbirth and there are many Afghan recipes which can be used to help with recovery and to promote lactation:
Leeti is a sweet soup prepared by gently heating oil, combining it with flour and then adding water. Turmeric, pepper and cardamom are then added, along with sugar and nuts.
Chai Zanjafeel, a tea made with hot water, ginger, cardamom, sugar and nuts, helps to ease stomach pains.
A tea made simply from cinnamon and boiling water can be used to boost a mother's milk supply and aid recovery.
A drink made from eggs, honey, butter and milk is useful if it is consumed every day for a week following the birth.