(September 01, 2007 to January 15, 2008)

Traditional Ilocano ways of Childbirth.

In the Ilocano community, nothing is awaited with greater anticipation, interest and curiosity than the birth of a new baby.

As soon as the woman announces that she is pregnant, she is instantly swarmed by elder ladies who start their vigil throughout the course of her pregnancy. Wizened by time and experience passed on to them through generations, they set the guidelines which she must follow religiously. Although most of these are defiant to modern medicine, many normal babies today are still delivered through these long-established traditional practices.

From the onset of the pregnancy to the delivery of the baby, the expectant mother is treated with tender loving care and is waited on hand and foot by her husband, relatives and neighbors. Even her whimsical moods are tolerated with understanding. Her cravings, no matter how bizarre, are catered to. As the pregnancy progresses there are more and more do’s and don’t’s she has to observe.

The moment everyone breathlessly awaits is signaled by the first labor pains felt by the pregnant woman for which the partera (community midwife) is summoned. Her first fascinating ritual begins as she rubs her stomach against the posts of house, at the same time whispering to the posts, “I’m having a baby.” A series of rituals continue until the baby emerges. Then the first cry of the baby fills the air causing rejoicing in the household.

To the Ilocanos a new born baby is looked upon as a new hope for the future.

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