Native American (Navajo) Traditions – Childbirth


  • When Being With Child

• Talk with „corn pollen‟ sprinkled words
• Have ceremonies
• Keep thoughts good
• Say dawn prayers daily
• Keep the peace

• Argue with partner or others
• Allow bad thoughts to occupy mind for long periods of time
• Scold children
• Talk negatively or with criticism

  • Navajo Ceremonies for Births

• Blessing way
My feet are made of mirage,
My bridle of strings of the sun.
My mane is like the white lightning.
My tail is like long black rain.
My eyes are big, spreading stars.
My teeth are of the white shell.
My belly is white as dawnlight.
My heart is of everlasting garnet.
–From Blessing Way Chant

• Protection way
• Shielding prayers
• Daily rituals
• Native American Church

  • When the Baby Nudges you

• Eat foods good for baby
• Get up early and walk around
• Have a Blessing way ceremony for a safe delivery

• Drink milk, take too much salt or eat foods„ taken away ‟by Navajo ceremonies
• Attend funerals or look at deceased person
• Be with sick people or go to crowded places
• Attend chant way rites for sick people
• Look at dead animals (taxidermy trophies)
• Lay around too much
• Tie knots, lift heavy things, weave rugs, make pottery, or kill living things (butcher)
• Prepare layette sets or plans for baby

  • When the Waters of Birth Come

• Think about a good delivery
• Have a medicine person do, “Singing out Baby” ‟Chant” or “Unraveling ‟song if necessary

• Let too many people observe labor (only the helpers)

  • When the Baby Emerges

• Drink corn meal gruel
• Wear juniper seed beads
• Burn cedar or sweetgrass
• Loosen your hair
• Drink herbal tea to relax
• Get in squatting position
• Apply gentle fundal pressure during pushing
• Hold onto sash belt when ready to push
• Drink herbal tea to make womb strong

  • When the Voice of Child is Heard

• Bury the placenta
• Drink juniper/ash tea to cleanse your insides
• Drink blue cornmeal gruel
• Breastfeed your baby
• Smear baby’s first stool on your face
• Wrap sash belt around waist for four days after delivery

• Drink cold liquids or be in cold draft
• Smell afterbirth blood for too long
• Show signs of displeasure if baby soils on you
• Burn placenta or afterbirth blood fluids
• Have sexual intercourse with your mate for three months after delivery

  • When the Beautiful One Comes Into Your Hands

• Bury umbilical cord in sheep corral, near rug loom or special place
• Massage baby soon after birth
• Give corn pollen and juniper/ash tea to baby for cleansing
• Shake hand with baby soon after birth and call baby by Navajo name
• Make cradle board; mark the direction of growth of tree
• Sponsor„ First Laugh ‟ceremony
• Sponsor shielding way (blackening rite) for baby

• Cut hair until baby talks
• Cover soft spot with fingers
• Cover head with bowl or basket

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