The Postpartum Tradition of Sawa Mahina in Rural Punjab, Pakistan

Open access

Abstract

The Punjabi postpartum tradition is called sawa mahina (‘five weeks’). This study investigates infant health care belief practices in rural Punjab and looks at the social significance of infant care beliefs practiced during sawa mahina. During six months of fieldwork, using participant observation and unstructured interviews as primary research methods, the study explored the prevalent postpartum tradition from a childcare perspective. A Punjabi child holds a social value regarding familial, religious, and emotional values. The five-week traditional postpartum period provides an insight into mother-child attachment, related child care belief practices, and the social construction of infancy. A child’s agency is recognised in the embodied mother-child relationship, and a child is seen in a sympathetic connection with the mother. Establishing an early foundation of ascribed identities is another important part of postpartum belief practices.

Abdul-Rahman, Muhammad Saed. 2007. Islam: Questions and Answers - Manners 2. London: MSA Publication Limited.

Abel, Sally; Julie Park, David Tipene-Leach, Sitaleki Finau and Michele Lennan. 2001. Infant Care Practices in New Zealand: A Cross-Cultural Qualitative Study. - Social Science & Medicine 53 (9): 1135-1148. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(00)00408-1.

Abu-Sahlieh, Sami A. Aldeeb 1999. Muslims’ Genitalia in the Hands of the Clergy: Religious Arguments about Male and Female Circumcision. - Male and Female Circumcision: Medical, Legal, and Ethical Considerations in Paediatric Practice, edited by George C. Denniston, Frederick Mansfield Hodges and Marilyn Fayre Milos. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic; Plenum Publishers, 131-171.

Agar, Michael H. 1981. The Professional Stranger: An Informal Ethnography. New York, NY: Academic Press.

Ahmed, Akbar S. 1997. Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin. New York, NY: Routledge.

Alderson, Priscilla. 2008 [2000]. Young Children’s Rights: Exploring Beliefs, Principles and Practice. 2nd edn. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Ali, Sumera; Raafay Sophie, Ayesha M. Imam, Faisal I. Khan, Syed F. Ali, Annum Shaikh and Syed Farid-ul-Hasnain. 2011. Knowledge, Perceptions and Myths Regarding Infertility among Selected Adult Population in Pakistan: A Cross-Sectional Study. - BioMed Central Public Health 11 (760). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206477/ (accessed April 28, 2017).

Allat, Pat. 1996. Conceptualizing Parenting from the Standpoint of Children: Relationship and Transition in the Life Course. - Children in Families: Research and Policy, edited by Julia Brannen and Margaret O’Brien. London: Falmer Press, 130-144.

Al-Mundhiri, Al-Hafiz Zakiuddin Abdul-Azim. 2000. The Translation of the Meanings of Summarized Sahih Muslim 1. Riyadh: Darussalam.

Arnold, Fred; Rodolfo A. Bulatao, Chalio Buripakdi, Betti Jamie Chung, James T. Fawcett, Toshio Iritani, S. J. Lee and Tson- Shien Wu. 1975. The Value of Children: A Cross-national Study. Honolulu, HI: East-West Center.

Babbie, Earl R. 2008. The Basics of Social Research. Belmont, CA: Thomas Learning.

Bayly, Susan. 2001 [1999]. Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin and Michael Argyle. 1997. The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief and Experience. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Bernard, Harvey Russell. 2006. Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Oxford: Rowman Altamira.

Bhattacharya, A.; R. Dwivedy, S. Nandeshwar, A. de Costa and V. K. Diwan. 2008. ‘To Weigh or not to Weigh?’ Socio-Cultural Practices Affecting Weighing at Birth in Vidisha, India. - Journal of Neonatal Nursing 14 (6): 199-206. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnn.2008.07.009.

Bhatti, Lubna Ishaq; Fariyal F. Fikree and Amanullah Khan. 1999. The Quest of Infertile Women in Squatter Settlements of Karachi, Pakistan: A Qualitative Study. - Social Science & Medicine 49 (5): 637-649. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(99)00142-2.

Bina, Rena. 2008. The Impact of Cultural Factors upon Postpartum Depression: A Literature Review. - Health Care for Women International 29 (6): 568-592. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07399330802089149.

Bühler, Christoph. 2008. On the Structural Value of Children and its Implication on Intended Fertility in Bulgaria. - Demographic Research 18: 569-610. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4054/Dem-Res.2008.18.20.

Chigondo, Etiya Edith. 2014. A Study to Assess the Acceptance of Male Circumcision as a Preventive Method in Hiv and Aids, in Mbare and Southern Suburbs of Harare, Zimbabwe. - Research Journal of Social Sciences and Management 4 (1): 123-130.

Creswell, John W. 2003 [1994]. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Method Approaches. 2nd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA; London, New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Denzin, Norman K. and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. 2011 [1994]. The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research. 4th revised edn. Thousand Oaks, CA; London, New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Dessing, Nathal M. 2001. Rituals of Birth, Circumcision, Marriage, and Death among Muslims in the Netherlands. New Religious Identities in the Western World 2. Belgium: Peeters Publishers.

Elo, Satu and Helvi Kyngäs. 2008. The Qualitative Content Analysis Process. - Journal of Advanced Nursing 62 (1): 107-115. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04569.x.

Frazer, James George. 1925 [1890]. The Golden Bough. A Study in Magic and Religion. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.

Graneheim, Ulla H. and Berit Lundman. 2004. Qualitative Content Analysis in Nursing Research: Concepts, Procedures and Measures to Achieve Trustworthiness. - Nurse Education Today 24 (2): 105-112. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2003.10.001.

Gregg, Gary S. 2007. Culture and Identity in a Muslim Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Griffith, Laura B. 2009. Practitioners, Postnatal Depression, and Translation: An Investigation into the Representation of Bangladeshi Mothers in the East End. - Anthropology & Medicine 16 (3): 267-278. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13648470903246847.

Gullestad, Marianne. 1992. The Art of Social Relations: Essays on Culture, Social Action and Everyday Life in Modern Norway. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.

Hammersley, Martyn and Paul Atkinson. 1995. Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London: Routledge.

Harkness, Sara. 1987. The Cultural Mediation of Postpartum Depression. - Medical Anthropology Quarterly 1 (2): 194-209. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/maq.1987.1.2.02a00040.

Heh, Shu-Shya; Lindsey Coombes and Helen Bartlett. 2004. The Association Between Depressive Symptoms and Social Support in Taiwanese Women During the Month. - International Journal of Nursing Studies 41 (5): 573-579. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2004.01.003.

Hoffman, Lois Wladis and Martin L. Hoffman. 1973. The Value of Children to Parents. -Psychological Perspective on Population, edited by James T. Fawcett. New York, NY: Basic Books, 19-76.

Holroyd, Eleanor; Fung Kim Lai Katie, Lam Siu Chun and Sin Wai Ha. 1997. “Doing the month”: An Exploration of Postpartum Practices in Chinese Women. - Health Care for Women International 18 (3): 301-313. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07399339709516282.

Hussain, Rabia; Zubair Ahmed and Pari Bano. 2014. Ethnographical Study of Postpartum Practices and Rituals in Altit Hunza. - Journal of Social Sciences 1 (12): 464-469.

Jaffrelot, Cristophe and Gillian Beaumont. 2004. A History of Pakistan and Its Origins. London: Anthem Press.

Jamaludin, Shariffah Suraya Syed. 2014. Postpartum Food Restriction of Rural Malay Women. - Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 2 (4): 32-41.

Jeffery, Roger and Patricia M. Jeffery. 1993. Traditional Birth Attendants in Rural North India: The Social Organization of Childbearing. - Midwifery and the Medicalization of Childbirth: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Edwin van Teijlingen, George Lowis, Peter McCaffery and Maureen Porter. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 265-278.

Kamra, Sukeshi. 2002. Bearing Witness: Partition, Independence, End of the Raj. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.

Keenan, Julia and Helen Stapleton. 2009. It Depends What You Mean by Feeding “on Demand”: Mothers’ Accounts of Babies’ Agency in Infant-Feeding Relationships. - Children, Food and Identity in Everyday Life, edited by Allison James, Anne-Trine Kjorholt and Vebjorg Tingstad. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 13-34.

Keller, Heidi. 2013. Cultures of Infancy. New Jersey, NJ: Psychology Press.

Khan, M. M. 1994. Summarized Sahih Al Bukhari. Riyadh: Darussalam.

Klein, Michele. 2000. A Time to Be Born: Customs and Folklore of Jewish Birth. Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society.

Laderman, Carol. 1984. Food Ideology and Eating Behaviour: Contributions from Malay Studies. - Social Science & Medicine 19 (5): 547-559. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0277-9536(84)90050-9.

Lee, Dominic Tak-Shing. 2000. Postnatal Depression in Hong Kong Chinese. A Doctoral dissertation. Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Letherby, Gayle. 1999. Other than Mother and Mothers as Others: The Experience of Motherhood and Non-Motherhood in Relation to ‘Infertility’ and ‘Involuntary Childlessness’. - Women’s Studies International Forum 22 (3): 359-372. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-5395(99)00028-X.

Liamputtong, Pranee. 2007. Situating Reproduction, Procreation and Motherhood within a Cross-Cultural Context: An Introduction. - Reproduction, Childbearing and Motherhood: A Cross- Cultural Perspective, edited by Pranee Liamputtong. New York, NY: Nova Science Pub, 3-34.

Liu, Yan Qan; Marcia Petrini and Judith A. Maloni. 2015. “Doing the Month”: Postpartum Practices in Chinese Women. - Nursing & Health Sciences 17 (1): 5-14. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/nhs.12146.

Longhurst, Robyn. 2005. Maternities: Gender, Bodies and Space. London: Routledge.

Lupton, Deborah. 2013. Infant Embodiment and Inter-Embodiment: A Review of Sociocultural Perspectives. - Childhood 20 (1): 37-50. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0907568212447244.

Mason, Jennifer. 2002. Qualitative Researching. London: Sage Publication.

Mathews, Paul W. 1986. The Social and Economic Value of Children in Philippine Society. - Philippine Sociological Review 34: 37-55.

Miller, Laura J. 2002. Postpartum depression. - Journal of the American Medical Association 287 (6): 762-765. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.287.6.762.

Murchison, Julian. 2010. Ethnography Essentials: Designing, Conducting, and Presenting Your Research. San Francisco, CA: Wiley, John & Sons.

Nag, Moni; Benjamin N. F. White, R. Creighton Peet, Amita Bardhan, Terrence H. Hull, Allen Johnson, George S. Masnick, Steven Polgar, Robert Repetto and Sol Tax. 1978. An Anthropological Approach to the Study of the Economic Value of Children in Java and Nepal [and Comments and Reply]. - Current Anthropology 19 (2): 293-306. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/202076.

Nahas, Violeta and Nawal Amasheh. 1999. Culture Care Meanings and Experiences of Postpartum Depression among Jordanian Australian Women: A Transcultural Study. - Journal of Transcultural Nursing 10 (1): 37-45. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/104365969901000113.

Nauck, Bernhard. 2014. Value of Children and the Social Production of Welfare. - Demographic Research 30: 1793-1816. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2014.30.66.

Nielsen, Melanie; Anneke Hoogvorst, Flemming Konradsen, Muhammed Mudasser and Wim Van Der Hoek. 2001. Childhood Diarrhea and Hygiene: Mothers’ Perceptions and Practices in the Punjab, Pakistan (25). Colombo: International Water Management Institute.

Oakley, Ann. 1979. Becoming a Mother. Oxford: Martin Robertson.

Oppenheim-Mason, Karen and Anja Malhotra Taj. 1987. Differences between Women’s and Men’s Reproductive Goals in Developing Countries. - Population and Development Review 13 (4): 611-638. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1973025.

Qadir, Farah; Amna Khalid and Girmay Medhin. 2015. Social Support, Marital Adjustment, and Psychological Distress among Women with Primary Infertility in Pakistan. - Women & Health 55 (4): 432-446. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03630242.2015.1022687.

Qamar, Azher Hameed. 2012. Gendered Aspects of Informal Education in Childhood: Research Reflections from the Rural Punjab, Pakistan. - Academic Research International 2 (1): 383-397.

Qamar, Azher Hameed. 2013. Evil, Evil Eye and Islamic Faith-Healing Traditions. - The Journal of Islamic Thought and Civilization 3 (2): 44-53.

Qamar, Azher Hameed. 2015a. Being a Child in Rural Pakistan. - The Delhi University Journal of the Humanities and the Social Sciences 2: 100-111.

Qamar, Azher Hameed. 2015b. Tona, the Folk Healing Practices in Rural Punjab, Pakistan. - Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics 9 (2): 59-74.

Qamar, Azher Hameed. 2016. Belief in the Evil Eye and Early Childcare in Rural Punjab, Pakistan. - Asian Ethnology 75 (2): 397-418.

Qamar, Azher Hameed. Forthcoming. Social Value of the Child and Fear of Childlessness among Rural Punjabi Women in Pakistan.

Ribbens, Jane. 1994. Mothers and Their Children: A Feminist Sociology of Childrearing. London: Sage Publications.

Rice, Pranee Liamputtong. 2000. Nyo dua hli - 30 Days Confinement: Traditions and Changed Childbearing Beliefs and Practices among Hmong Women in Australia. - Midwifery 16 (1): 22-34. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1054/midw.1999.0180.

Rizvi, S. A. H.; S. A. A. Naqvi, M. Hussain and A. S. Hasan. 1999. Religious Circumcision: A Muslim view. - BJU international 83 (S1): 13-16. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1464-410x.1999.0830s1013.x.

Saavala, Minna. 2013 [2001]. Fertility and Familial Power Relations: Procreation in South India. Nais Monograph Series 87. London: Routledge.

Sandelowski, Margarete; Diane Holditch‐Davis and Betty G. Harris. 1990. Living the Life: Explanations of Infertility. - Sociology of Health & Illness 12 (2): 195-215. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.ep11376477.

Saura, Bruno; Maryann Capestro and Henri Bova. 2002. Continuity of Bodies: The Infant’s Placenta and the Island’s Navel in Eastern Polynesia. - The Journal of the Polynesian Society 111 (2): 127-145.

Schreier, Margrit. 2012. Qualitative Content Analysis in Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Sharma, Sheetal; Edwin van Teijlingen, Vanora Hundley, Catherine Angell and Padam Simkhada. 2016. Dirty and 40 Days in the Wilderness: Eliciting Childbirth and Postnatal Cultural Practices and Beliefs in Nepal. - BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 16 (1): 147. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-016-0938-4.

Smart, Carol. 1996. Deconstructing Motherhood. - Good Enough Mothering?: Feminist Perspectives on Lone Motherhood, edited by Elizabeth Bortolaia Silva. London: Routledge, 37-57.

Soet, Johanna. E.; Gregory A. Brack and Colleen DiIorio. 2003. Prevalence and Predictors of Women’s Experience of Psychological Trauma during Childbirth. - Birth 30 (1): 36-46. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1523-536X.2003.00215.x.

Stewart, Stephanie and Jaya Jambunathan. 1996. Hmong Women and Postpartum Depression. - Health Care for Women International 17: 319-330. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07399339609516248.

Sultan, Sarwat. 2009. Depression: A Common Factor Associated with Childlessness. - Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences 29 (1): 79-90.

Tahhan, Diana Adis. 2008. Depth and Space in Sleep: Intimacy, Touch and the Body in Japanese Co- Sleeping Rituals. - Body and Society 14 (4): 37-56. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X08096894.

The Noble Quran - English Translation of the meanings and commentary. 1985. Translated by Muhammad Taqqiuddin Al-Hilali and Muhammad Mushin Khan. Madinah, KSA: King Fahd Complex.

Tylor, Edward Burnett 1974 [1871]. Primitive Culture. Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art and Custom. New York, NY: Gordon Press.

Upton, Rebecca L. and Sallie S. Han. 2003. Maternity and Its Discontents: “Getting The Body Back” After Pregnancy. - Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 32 (6): 670-692. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0891241603257596.

Vlassoff, Michael and Carol Vlassoff. 1980. Old Age Security and the Utility of Children in Rural India. - Population Studies 34 (3): 487-499. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00324728.1980.10410457.

Whiteford, Linda M. and Lois Gonzalez. 1995. Stigma: The Hidden Burden of Infertility. - Social Science & Medicine 40 (1): 27-36. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0277-9536(94)00124-C.

Whittaker, Andrea. 1999. Birth and the Postpartum in Northeast Thailand: Contesting Modernity and Tradition. - Medical Anthropology 18 (3): 215-242. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01459740.1999.9966156.

Winch, Peter. J.; M. Ashraful Alam, Afsana Akther, Dilara Afroz, Nabeel Ashraf Ali, Amy A. Ellis, Abdullah H. Baqui, Gary L. Darmstadt, Shams El Arifeen and M. Habibur Rahman Seraji. 2005. Local Understandings of Vulnerability and Protection during the Neonatal Period in Sylhet District, Bangladesh: A Qualitative Study. - The Lancet 366 (9484): 478-485. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)66836-5.

World Health Organization. 2014. WHO Recommendations on Postnatal Care of the Mother and New-born.

World Health Organization. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/97603/1/9789241506649_eng.pdf (accessed May 26, 2017).

Wynne, Francine. 1997. The Embodied Chiasmic Relationship of Mother and Infant. - Human Studies 19: 253-270. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005380703076.

Yeh, Yueh-Chen; Winsome St. John and Lorraine Venturato. 2014. Doing the Month in a Taiwanese Postpartum Nursing Center: An Ethnographic Study. - Nursing & Health Sciences 16 (3): 343-351. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/nhs.12110.

Journal Information

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 380 380 45
PDF Downloads 133 133 24