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Stories of Cloth - Robina: An Asian birth

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Stories of Cloth


Robina: An Asian birth


An Asian birth

I was born in Pakistan, where we receive a lot of help and support when our children are born. Traditionally, young mothers move back to live with their own mothers after childbirth. Even though I was living in Manchester when I had my first baby, I continued with our family tradition. I gave birth in hospital and when I came out I stayed at my mother’s house for forty days. Here I was able to rest and recuperate and learn to look after my new baby.

This custom originates from cultures where women are poorer and weaker and therefore need time to recover after giving birth. My new baby son was lovingly bathed in clean, pure water, while prayers were recited to cleanse him. It is traditional that the first words a baby hears is the ‘call to prayer,’ whispered in Arabic in his right ear by his father.

The naming of the child tends to be the role of the grand-parents and the surname is traditionally taken from the father’s first name (i.e. Ahmed son of Khan). Within the first week of life my baby’s head was shaved, the hair weighed and the equivalent amount in silver distributed to the poor or given to charity. Around this time a baby boy will be circumcised, usually at a clinic by a doctor, and the proud parents celebrate by giving out sweets. In Pakistan, on the fortieth day, a lamb is blessed and slaughtered and distributed to family, friends and neighbours, to celebrate the safe arrival of the young new life.

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