All About them Babies: Part 2


Today, we will continue the discussion on differences between the U.S. and the Middle East. However, there are many more differences in infancy than pregnancy in each region, because there is no universal way to raise a child in our world. The other major idea to keep in mind is that there is no universal religion in the U.S., while Islam holds the primary ideals for the Middle East. Islamic views are made a part of a Middle Eastern child’s life from birth.

*This is a continuation of my previous post “All About them Babies: Part 1” where I focused on pre-childbirth differences between the U.S. and the Middle East.

  1. Middle East: Culturally, male children are preferred

It’s important to pay attention to that first word. There are many areas of the world where male children are preferred (Middle East, China, India, etc.), but the reasons they are preferred varies greatly. Some countries hold religious reasons for why they prefer males, while others culturally and financially prefer males. In the Middle East, it is a cultural phenomena to prefer males, not a religious one. It is stated no where in the Q’uran that male children are better than female children. Religiously, they are desired equally. In the U.S., there is no cultural majority on this view. A specific gendered child is a preference that most parents have, but they’ve formed this from many of their own personal thoughts and experiences.

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  1. Middle East: Praying the Azan into an infant’s ear right after childbirth

The Azan is the call to prayer and it is believed that if you pray this into the ear of a newborn, they will subconsciously have the attraction to the Truth and the Beauty of the Creator instilled in them. This is a Muslim tradition, and a very interesting one. As far as I know, there is no equivalent of this in the United States, and much of that has to do with the fact that there is no one universal religion in America.

  1. Middle East: Mothers rest for 40 days after labor

This is a tradition held in many regions of the world including Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Mothers are expected to rest, and by rest I mean literally rest, like do nothing for 40 days. They are not supposed to clean or cook or leave the house. They are supposed to spend time with their new child, and other women in the community come in to help with the rest, including taking care of the older children. While women in the U.S. do have maternity leave, Svea Boyda-Vikander so candidly points out (in her blog “Mothering the Mother: 40 Days of Rest”) that American women often feel the need to “work out, hop back in the sack, or . . . present a perfectly made-up face to the outside community.”

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  1. Middle East: Care after birth

Unless there is a problem with the child, in the U.S., we don’t do much to them after birth. We cut the umbilical cord, check their vitals, and eventually, send the child and mother on their way. However, in the Middle East they wrap the baby’s stomach after birth to protect from the wind and cold. It is believed that the cold air enters through a child’s stomach. They also place the baby’s head on plates and other flat surfaces to improve the shape of the baby’s head which is somewhat soft after birth.

  1. Middle East: Breast-feeding for two years after birth

American children are lucky if they’re breastf-ed for the recommended six month period, but Middle Eastern children are expected to be breast-fed for two years. Now, it is true that some women have other issues with breast-feeding. Producing milk or breast sensitivity can be prominent deterrents from breast-feeding for too long. Women in the Middle East face these problems as well, but because of the expectation for the breast-feeding period, another mother will step in to provide milk. Another major cultural difference is that women in the United States usually have to get back to work after a certain amount of time and they would not be able to breast-feed for two years if they’re already back at work and away from their child. To learn more about breast-feeding, go here.

Breastfeeding

Culturally and religiously, the differences are endless, but these were the prominent ones that I found during my research. It’s interesting that children are birthed all over the world, and yet, the practices during post-childbirth and infancy are so extremely personalized and distinct among varying cultures.

Resources:

“Why Most Moms Don’t Reach Their Own Breast-Feeding Goals

“Mothering the Mother: 40 Days of Rest”

“Chapter 4: Pathway to Paradise”

“Maternity: Cultural Views in the Middle East”

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6 thoughts on “All About them Babies: Part 2

  1. I really like this blog and I like that you used comparison with the United States as well. Comparing information to something I already really helps me to understand much better. The most interesting point that was made for me was the information about breast feeding. Talking with my friends as I was growing up, I quickly realized that my mom breast fed me much longer than most of my friends. Some of my friends weren’t even breast fed which was very surprising to me because my mother had always talked very highly of breast feeding. I was breast fed til I was around 2 years old, which I recently learned was common in the Middle East. All of my friends had always thought it was the weirdest thing that I had been breast fed for so long, but it’s interesting that in other cultures that is the norm.

  2. I like how you specifically pointed out the differences as being cultural or religious. For instance, mothers are expected to rest 40 days after a birth. When my sister had her two boys (at different times), they was no way she would be able to rest that long. In order to physically and financially support herself, she was forced to get back into her daily chores and obligations. Her actions definitely reflect America’s “workaholic” culture, not the Middle Eastern culture.

  3. I really liked this blog and how you pointed out the main differences with every point. I wish in the United States it was more acceptable for women to just rest and be mothers 40 days after birth. Women are definitely influenced to get back into shape right after they have their child. I think Middle Eastern culture is more family influenced while in the United States focuses more on independence.

  4. To see how these differences really are implemented I thought back to my life when I was little and how my mom was when I was growing up. I remember her going back to work as soon as possible and to be the head of the house again. She always needed to take care of things, especially when it was related to finances. We really are an individualistic society and it’s very insightful to read about the differences among our cultures and how much Middle Eastern culture can affect certain aspects of their society.

  5. While reading this post, the thing that I found most interesting is that the mothers rest for an entire 40 days after giving birth. That is a very long time to be doing nothing. I know that after my mom had my sister she was up and moving around within a few days. I can’t even imagine it being more than a month.

  6. My sister recently had her second baby and the joy they have brought into my entire family’s life are unmeasurable. It’s so interesting to hear different cultures view on motherhood and infancy. I think that all cultures can learn something from each other, and I think no matter what country your from, all mothers have a bond through the love for their children. It’s really special thing!

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