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A Child is Born – Summary | The Heritage of Words

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A Child is Born

Germaine Greer


“A Child is Born” presents a comparison between the parent child relationship in the rich West and the traditional East. In traditional societies child birth is managed in different ways. All mental burden of finding out new ways. Although there is the possible danger in child birth, the traditional behaviors make the pregnant woman forget her worry to some extent. According to the custom, she is supported by her husband, her relatives and her community. These behaviors make her feel safe because she believes that she is conducting the pregnancy. Belief in traditional practices is common in the highly advanced Western society. A university graduate practiced prenatal exercises regularly during her pregnancy. And she also observed the superstition and did not buy a bed and clothes for the baby. Afterwards she gave birth a baby very easily without being attended.

In traditional births, infant and mother mortality is higher. And modern obstetric care has helped a lot to reduce such death. But it has stopped the people form observing their traditional values. In may societies, women go to their mother-in-law’s house after their marriage. But they do not become the member of their new family until they have born a child. The Western people criticize such practices. Once a Muslim marriage was severely criticized at an international conference, but the only Muslim woman present there kept quiet because she could not use the language fluently which was used there. At such conferences, only Western approaches are presented and the native participants are not consulted.

In traditional societies, after her first child the woman would lose her name and she is called by the child’s name. People in the West find it hateful. But when the married woman is given her husband’s surname, they don’t object. In many traditional societies the child’s relationship with the extended family is considered more important. The child is intentionally separated from its parents. Thus children there are born no at parent’s choice, but under the group’s pressure.

By producing the child the woman satisfies the desires of her family members. They are very curious to see the baby and they celebrate the birth. Even during pregnancy the woman is well-cared especially in her mother’s house. All her desire for food are satisfied. After the birth there are various ceremonies. The baby and the mother are given new clothes. There is a feast and the women and the girls sing at night. One of the rewards of pregnancy is that the woman can go home to visit her mother and sisters.

In Bangladesh children under the age of five or six are looked after together by the whole family. They are taken together to the pond to have a bath and fed together. They play out of door with natural objects. In the afternoon they are told fairy tales. But at night they always sleep with their own mothers.

In traditional societies Western medicine has brought a lot of problems. The doctors and their syringes are highly respected. People expect too much of them. That’s why even the weak patients have to be given very strong does of medicine. The drug is very expensive, too. Without foreign aid, the hospital can’t be established. The combination of the old Africa and the modern West can be seen at hospital. In the delivery ward there are groaning women in the pools of blood. Nurses watch them but hey keep themselves busy with machines and ignore the laboring women because they don’t understand the patient’s language.

If we look at the tragedy of the mother during the birth, a live child is not much more important. Women will no longer offer up their bodies and minds to such cruel acts if the child is not welcomed at home and if the mother is not praised for her courage and not helped to raise it. The peasant communities are doubtful of Western method and they can resist it easily. They accept that death is common in the birthplace. Poverty has stopped introducing modern technique there. The machines have not allowed to hear the waning of a few women. If Western technology is not practiced there population will be automatically controlled.

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