A Child is Born - Summary | The Heritage of Words

Germaine Greer

A Child is Born - Summary | The Heritage of Words

A Child is Born

Childbirth management in Eastern society varies from place to place. The mother is familiar with the way of giving birth to a child in such a society because they are used to in such customs. They don’t feel so much physical and mental tension while giving birth. The approach in Eastern society is ritualistic. She is covered with taboos and prohibitions which reduces her psychological burden.

All the relatives including the husbands remain present during the process of giving birth. It decreases the pain of the mother. Their presence gives a sense of security to her. They create such an environment which make the mother feel safe. Nevertheless, the chance of death of the mother is high in Eastern society. In many of the Eastern societies, a pregnant woman goes to her mother’s house. For example, the writer presents us with an example from the society of India. In Rajput society, the woman goes to the mother’s house prior to giving birth and after the birth to the child. She is taken care of properly. The birth of the child is celebrated with singing and dancing. The pregnant woman is taken care not only by family members but also by the members of the community. It gives her a sense of security and she becomes less worried about giving birth. There is a difference in child rearing also. In Eastern society, the mother gets respect after she gives birth. She is called by the name of her first child. The newly born child is taken care of by all the relatives. The mother has to spend less time taking care of the child. So, the child-family relation is stronger than the child-mother relation. Thus, Eastern society is better than Western society in the matter of childbirth and childcare. Eastern society, however, is not unaffected by the method of Western society.

Because of modernization, people in Western societies are forced to use modern equipment. The modern equipment certainly has saved the lives of mother and child; nevertheless, they are unable to reduce the anxiety of mother while giving birth. A pregnant woman in the West has to take care of herself with the guidance of nurses and doctors. The nurses and doctors do not give a caressing hand to the pregnant woman. The health of mother and child is safer but the mother is emotionally weaker. The child is born to fulfill the needs of parents only. The child grows up with its parents and dolls. So, child – mother relation is stronger. The mother has to bear all the problems during childbirth and child-rearing.

Important Question :

1. What differences does the writer show us between a traditional society and modern west in matters of pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing?
Ans. In traditional societies, when a woman becomes pregnant, she has to observe certain prohibitions and carry out the set rites. All these taboos and prohibitions help her keeping herself mentally free and to lessen the pain and fear. The pregnant lady is helped by her husband and other members of family and community which enhances her sense of security. But in modern western societies, the pregnant lady has to take care of herself. In such an individualistic society, no other family member renders any support that helps the pregnant lady feel secure. She has to undertake all the preparations for newcomer by herself. In traditional societies, childbirth irrespective of its sex is celebrated although there is a greater risk of the lives of the mother and the baby. The woman, after the birth of the child, is fully accepted by the new family and she is allowed to visit her father’s house. The women in such societies are started calling after the names of their children ignoring their original identity which the western people criticize calling it a wrong behavior. However, in the west, although modern and sophisticated hospitals are there, a child is born in an isolated hospital bed surrounded by modern medical equipment. There is no one to welcome the child and to support the lady emotionally to help lessen difficulties in western societies. In traditional society, the children are usually looked after collectively by the family members. The entire family is involved to bathe and to feed the children collectively. In the evening, children are told fairy tales by other members of the family. However, these practices aren’t seen in modern western societies. The respective family mothers have to take care of their children by themselves as there is no help from other family members in the matter of childcare. The writer argues that the traditional east is far better than the modern west in matters of pregnancy, childbirth, and child raring although there is a high risk of mothers and children mortality rate in these societies.

Question for Practice :

  1. What differences does the writer show between a traditional society and a modern society in matters of pregnancy, childbirth, and childbearing?
  2. Why does the writer bring in the examples of traditional societies to discuss the problems of a modern, especially western society?

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