Traditional practices of Afghan midwives

Some of the women we worked with remembered traditional practices of midwives in Afghanistan, and some of their beliefs about what should and shouldn’t happen during the labour and delivery

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One of the women explained:
"In Afghanistan ... have any of the elders heard about this? When the midwife comes to your house, if it is dropped, if her womb is dropped, she would use her hand to push the baby up, she would move her hand around a lot until the baby is moved up. Then, she would ask her to stand up and says that it’s in its place, it’s sorted. I don’t know what sorrow they would have experienced and what they will remember from this. What’s more, it might not be true, but I’d heard that if someone only gives birth to girls, two or three girls in a row, again, they bring her an elderly or a midwife to push the belly button further in … oh, I mean … they say you should pull her belly button out so that its shape changes and the baby’s head turns around. Then, she would give birth to a boy. How is this possible? She would give birth to boys ever after … I don’t know whether it happens accidently or her belly button is really doing the job. It might be true, but I don’t believe this saying because it’s all about genetics."

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Another of the women we worked with remembered:
"They’d put sand under the pregnant woman’s legs. When they go to visit the baby, they’d put two bricks under the lady’s legs ... and use sand as a supplement ... they’d put two bricks for her to either sit on it or lay her legs on it so that she can push the baby out easier. These things very ... around where we live, they’re in our culture. Some people have heard of them and some have observed them."

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...and someone else recalled another practice:
"I’d heard something else as well. When the contractions begin, to warm up [the pregnant woman’s] inside and increase the labour pain, they cook Litti for her … it’s hot ... they tell her to eat it then. When she eats the Litti, her belly gets warm and her cramps worsen. And, then, because her belly gets warm, her bleeding would increase. But, as they say, she should push the [inaudible] out, it would come out; it would be sorted. That was it"

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