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Developing DestiniesA Mayan Midwife and Town$
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Barbara Rogoff

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195319903

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195319903.001.0001

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Ripples across generations and nations in birth destinies and postnatal care

Ripples across generations and nations in birth destinies and postnatal care

(p.201) 11 Ripples across generations and nations in birth destinies and postnatal care
Developing Destinies

Barbara Rogoff (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Sacred Mayan midwives have the responsibility of reading signs of the newborn's future and unveiling special destinies shown by birth signs, such as those revealing that the newborn is a sacred midwife or shaman or rainmaker. The sacred Mayan midwife's medical and spiritual care of the newborn, the placenta, and the umbilical cord tie closely with similar practices recorded more than four centuries before. So does her care of the mother after the birth, especially in the medical use of the sweat bath and the purification and protection of mother and baby at the end of the lying-in period and beyond. The medical and spiritual work of the Mayan midwife preserve many practices across centuries. However, at the same time, the work combines or discards some approaches, based on individual invention, generational changes, and contact with other cultural traditions as well as domination by the institutions of other societies, especially Western medicine.

Keywords:   destiny, prediction, midwife, shaman, newborn, placenta, umbilical cord, sweat bath, protections

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