By Annisa Phillip. “Because of our Trini heritage baby making comes with various notions (some of which are questionable) of what you should and should not do.”
“How was the trip?” my friend asked. Confused for a second, I replied, “What trip?” but as the words left my mouth I caught on to what she was referring to, she was asking how my labour was. After 40 weeks of a beautiful journey it finally became time to ‘drop’.
Do’s and don’ts of baby making
After a beautiful but excruciating, relatively short labour, my baby girl was here. We waited a long time for that moment and it was definitely worth the wait.
When I thought all of the do’s and don’ts were over, I quickly found out that I was wrong. Of course, because of our Trini heritage, baby making comes with various notions (some of which are questionable) of what you should and should not do.
Don’t shower for nine days
Firstly, one of the questionable notions is not taking a shower for nine days after delivery. Nine days! As if that was not enough, some people state that you should wait for 11 days before seeing the inside of the shower. The waiting period is said to prevent lining cold. Lining cold is an infection of the lining of a woman’s uterus.
Medical professionals, however, suggest differently, citing the wait as old fashioned. As stated by one of the nurses during the usual morning talks at the neonatal clinic, lining cold occurred when people showered outdoors in cold water and then had to walk in the cold/dew to get back inside.
So having a warm shower indoors should do no harm right? That is unless your parents, particularly your mother, tells you that the doctors, nurses and other mothers are wrong because you will feel it in your bones later in life.
Drink castor oil
The next surprise was the bottle of castor oil that I was told to drink. The reason for it is to clean you out and get the bowels moving. I however had no problems in that department.
“Take it anyway,” I was told. I was told to “put the bottle to my head and drink” aka drink the entire bottle BUT before I did that I decided to read the label and employ the use of a mutual friend, Google.
As it turned out, drinking the entire bottle would have been an overdose as the recommendation on the label was one or two tablespoons. By the way, for those of you who do not already know, castor oil has a horrible taste. Well, let’s just say that I only tried it once.
Baby making and vervain
Vervain is a herb that is known to help with breast milk production and various ailments. It was sent for me by my grandmother. The first sip reminded me of my childhood when “bush tea” was the only tea we knew growing up.
Drinking this tea was not at all a bad experience but I only drank it once or twice because milk production was also something that was not an issue. Quite frankly, I was producing way too much anyway.
Caraille leaves for soap
I also found the experience to follow questionable – using caraille leaves (and other various “bush”) in place of soap. Of course, I asked why and the reason I was given is that it is to clean the skin.
“Isn’t that what soap is for?” I argued. “We didn’t have soap long time you know,” came the reply. I rebutted with “But we have soap now” which was met with silence. Maybe I should not say that this tradition is questionable, it is just a ‘long time thing’.
Beads and blue for maljo
Of course let us not forget the maljo (or mal yeaux) beads and the blue pinned onto the baby to ward off evil or maljo. Its origin is said to have been passed down to us from our West African ancestors.
Though some parents do not subscribe to some of these local traditions there remains many who do. I for one say to each his own, question the purpose of the tradition and often fall out with my mother for my lack of adherence to such. Nevertheless, these are all entwined into our culture and it is definitely a part of our heritage.
October 2013 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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