This month we explore the postpartum traditions of Samoa. Through the adoption of one's own postpartum traditions or acknowledging the wisdom and practices of different cultures, we can provide ourselves with support, grace and tenderness as we transition into motherhood.
Some of the ways in which postpartum traditions are embraced in Samoan culture:
- A confinement period for first time mothers
- Belly-binding, abdominal and pelvic floor massage
- Perineal cleansing
- A bowl of sago after postnatal procedures
- The placenta is offered to the new parents
ONE MONTH CONFINEMENT & REST
For first time mothers, they are expected to rest for one month. For subsequent children, the mother rests until the umbilical cord falls off.
BELLY-BINDING, ABDOMINAL AND PELVIC FLOOR MASSAGE
After labour, the mother's belly is firmly bound with cloth to prevent the uterus from " falling down" which remains in place for one month. The abdomen and pelvic floor is then massaged to correct displacement during labour. After this, mother will bathe.
A steaming bowl of water is palced between a woman's legs. The rising steam is said to cleanse the birth canal. In Australia, Samoan may be offered a hot water bowl in place of this tradition when birthing in a hospital.
A BOWL OF SAGO
After the postnatal procedures, women are offered a bowl of sago - cooked in coconut and flavoured with lemon leaves.
PLACENTA IS OFFERED TO THE NEW PARENTS
The placenta may be used in several ways after birth, including; wrapped in a cloth and buried by family members, burned in a hole dug in the ground, or thrown into the sea. Some believe that if the placenta is not properly disposed of, the newborn is at risk.
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