I cherish the two beautiful gifts that God gave me. My daughters are 11 and 8 and I can not see my life without them. When I had my oldest daughter, she was a week overdue and I was in labor with her for more than 24 hours. When she finally decided she wanted to come, I only dilated to a 4, as she was trying to come down, her heart rate would stop. The nurses kept turning me on my side because by that time they gave me an epidural and I couldn't move myself. When that was not working, they finally made a decision to give me a C-Section. I was scared because I didn't know what was happening. My primary OB/GYN was out of town at a convention but was on his way back when I was in labor, the on call doctor performed my C-Section and during the surgery my epidural wore off a little and I felt the first cut and I screamed. My anesthesiologist had to give me more epidural before they could proceed. When they pulled out my daughter the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice and that is why her heart rate would go down every time she tried to go into the birth canal. She didn't have any complications and turned out to be just fine.
My second pregnancy went smoothly right up until the day she was born. Because I had a C-Section with the first pregnancy I had to have another one, so we scheduled this one a week before the actual due date. It snowed on the day she was born, my daughter was placed in NICU. This pregnancy they gave me a spinal tap and I experienced every horrible side affect during the surgery. When they pulled out my daughter she didn't cry, she didn't make a sound and I panicked. They were calming me down while they worked on my child. She had taken her first breath before they fully pulled her out and she swallowed fluid and meconium, meaning she used the restroom in the womb before they delivered her which caused her upper respiratory issues. I finally heard her cry and they let me see her for just a moment before they took her to NICU. I had to see my daughter the following day hooked up to tubes. I had to pump my breast milk until she was released to actually latch on. She was only there for 6 days and I was very grateful for that. During this time I found out that the same NICU that my daughter was in was the one that my twin brothers were in before they died at birth. My mother didn't say anything to me until afterwards as not to worry me. I was 5 when my twin brothers died.
I chose to talk about my experiences because they are the only one's I have had the pleasure of being apart of.
In South Africa, they believe in spiritual births. The Xhosa women use water births, the mother cuts her own umbilical cord and uses a midwife and has the choice to use a traditional hospital or a birthing center. Birth in the Xhosa culture, is an important rite of passage and is therefore treated with due respect, honor and celebration. Traditionally, the birthing mother is attended to by ‘grand-mothers’ in her ‘rondavel’, who have experience in birthing babies. The rondavel is made with mud or a cob-like mixture, and the roof is usually thatched, so the room is dark and circular. After the birth the mother and new baby are secluded until the cord falls off and the grandmother aids this process by mixing ash, sugar and a poisonous plant called ‘Umtuma’ together and rubbing the paste onto the newly severed cord, which is believed to aid the drying out process (Littlejohn, 2011).
"Inkaba” is the ritual of burying the cord and the placenta and this has great significance to the clan and seals the attachment of the baby to her ancestral lands. “Inkaba” then comes to mean one’s ancestral home and symbolizes the relationship between the individual, his/her clan, the land and the spiritual world. The burial place of an ‘Inkaba’ is a place where one must go and dream and communicate with ancestors (Littlejohn, 2011).
Littlejohn, M. (2011). Sacred Xhosa Birth Rituals. Retrieved January 9, 2016 from