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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Family Principles of Upbringing Children

Principles of Upbringing Children - Difficult Deliveries

Article Index



Pregnancy generally lasts for nine months and ten days. The pregnancy period is very sensitive and full of risks because it has a bearing on the future of the growing foetus. The child in the period spends its life within that enclosure over which it has no control and can be exposed to several physical and psychological dangers. The child will not have capabilities of himself confronting and contending with these risks. After completing the nine months in the womb successfully it has to pass through another risky phase which is delivery. The process of delivery is not easy and simple but it is very sensitive and difficult.

The child grows to a size in the nine months that particularly its head at this stage is much larger than other parts of the body that its delivery from the narrow passage of the womb becomes very difficult. The possibility during delivery is always there that the child’s bones get crushed or twisted. There can also be the likelihood of the brain getting damaged due to the pressure during parturition.

One expert writes:

“The process of delivery can possibly cause psychological defects in the child. Psychiatrists are of opinion that the process of delivery of a child will have a significant bearing on its entire life. In their view delivery is a revolutionary change in the environment and life of the child and deprives it of the security and rest, which it had so far in the foetus. At the time of delivery fear and concern becomes a part of the psyche of the person. The future life of the person is spent imagining unknown thoughts of troubles. The life spent in the foetus was carefree and delivery is the arrival in the travails of the world. (Biography Pish az tawallud, p. 160)

Dr. Jalali writes:

When a child arrives in the world, it will be under pressure for a few hours and the most affected will be its head that will be the largest part of the body at birth. If the delivery is not normal then the arrival will be more difficult and besides the risk of the environment, the child has to face the risks of handling with mechanical instruments used during the delivery. In such cases there is chance of infantile mortality. The illnesses like madness and paralysis in children may also me related to difficult deliveries. (Ruwan shinashi kudak, p. 193)

Therefore, delivery of children is not a simple process and requires utmost care and skill to ensure safety of the mother and the child. A little carelessness on the part of the handlers might cause great damage to the mother and the child, sometimes resulting in mortality of either or both. But nowadays the facilities of skilled doctors and speciality medicines are in the access of people and the likelihood of harm to the mother or the child is much reduced.

The pregnant ladies are advised that if they have access to a good gynaecologist or a nursing home, they should consult them much ahead of the delivery. They must ascertain from the doctor the expected date of delivery and seek admission to the nursing home ahead of the delivery that they get better care than they can at home.

The main advantage in such cases is that the doctors and nurses are available at the nursing homes and if there is any emergency it can be attended to without much loss of time. If, while staying at home, a pregnant woman faces an emergency, the delay in reaching her to the doctors might result in danger to the mother and the child.

The other valid reason for sending the pregnant woman to the maternity home prior to the delivery is that the same sanitary environment and personalised medical attention cannot be provided at her own home.

Another advantage of going to the maternity home is that the chances of the pregnant lady facing unnecessary and unwarranted interference and opinions of the other women from the family will not be there. Generally such opinions are not educated and they may at times be harmful.

The husband too has a big responsibility during the pregnancy and delivery of his wife. Religiously and morally it is his duty that during this delicate and hazardous time he should provide help and courage to the wife and take all the possible steps to ensure safe delivery of the child. Carelessness on the part of the husband may even sometimes result in the loss of the mother and the child or they sustain physical and psychological damage. Such heedless husbands will be deemed criminal in the eyes of religion and the society and they will be answerable on the Day of Judgment.

They will also suffer the pangs of remorse if for reasons of carelessness or miserliness they avoid providing necessary care to the pregnant wives. Sometimes, because of the neglect at the required time the husbands have to incur much more expense to salvage the resultant damage. If the families of the pregnant women do not have access to the maternity homes then they should take the services of the competent midwives who have necessary skills and experience of attending to deliveries. In this regard the following precautions must be taken:

1. The temperature of the labour room should be moderate and it should not be too cold. This is important because the pregnant women will be under tremendous pressure and due to the long hours of labour pain they will be indisposed and sweating and there can be likelihood of the babies catching colds and getting exposed to several ailments.

If the delivery room becomes colder after the delivery the mother will most likely catch cold. The cold wind is very harmful for the new born baby because the environment in the mother’s womb will be warmer (having the normal human temperature (37.5 degrees Centigrade) and the room temperature will be much less. The body of the baby at the delivery will not have sufficient strength to adjust to the change Such babies are likely to fall ill and their treatment is rather difficult. Mortality rate in such babies is rather high.

2. It is necessary to prevent the air in the delivery room from becoming poisonous with the smoke of burning kerosene oil or coal. Breathing such polluted air is dangerous for both mothers and children.

3. It is advisable to maintain privacy in the delivery rooms to the extent possible. Keep unnecessary visitors out of the labour room. Such visitors might cause embarrassment and unease to the pregnant woman and may carry infections when they come from outside. Other women looking at the private parts of a woman is prohibited under Islam. During deliveries the pregnant women will be unable to cover their private parts. Imam Sajjad ordered other women to leave the labour room when a pregnant woman was delivering lest her private parts are exposed to them (Wasail al-shia, v 10, p. 119)

A responsible pregnant woman should exercise all care during pregnancy and delivery that she delivers a healthy baby to the society that it becomes a useful member of the community. In the view of Allah too it is the best service that a woman can give and will get its reward. One day the Prophet was speaking on the subject of Jihad. One lady asked, “O, Prophet of Allah Will the women be deprived of the benefits of Jihad? ”The Prophet replied that the woman too gets the benefit of the Jihad that the time from the conception to delivery and feeding of the child till its weaning the woman is like the man who is at the battlefield doing Jihad. If that woman dies during this period she would have achieved martyrdom. (Makarim al-akhlaq, v 1, p. 268)

After the Birth

When a child takes birth the air gets into its lungs and it starts breathing. After commencing the act of breathing the baby cries for the first time. This crying is because of the reaction of the air getting into the lungs. If the child doesn’t breathe and cry, it is held with its feet up and the head is gently stroked to help it breathe. Then the umbilicus is tied and is severed with a sanitised scissors. After this the child is given a bath with soap and lukewarm water and clothed. For sometime the child does not need feeding. Then drops of warmish water mixed with sugar are put into the child’s mouth.

The newborn will generally be in a state of dreaming. It needs lot of rest because it has undergone external and internal transition. Earlier it was dependent on the mother’s nutrition but now it’s own digestive system has to start functioning.

During pregnancy the child depended for oxygen on the mother’s breathing but after delivery it’s own respiratory system has to start functioning. It now takes its own oxygen from the atmosphere and ejects carbon dioxide during breathing. Its internal functioning would have undergone a major change and its external condition and environment is also totally changed. Earlier in the womb of the mother the temperature was 37.5Degrees Centigrade but now it is in an environment which has transient temperature conditions.

During delivery too the child is subject to lot of pressure which needs mitigation. At this time the child will be like a postoperative patient who has just come out of an operation theatre who, above all, needs lots of rest. It will be like a machine, which has just come out of the shop floor, which needs delicate and careful handling. In this circumstance the best that can be done for the child is to provide him restful environment that it overcomes the hardship faced during the process of delivery.

Dr Jalali writes:

“Tickling the child to laughter, lifting it up repeatedly, changing its garments frequently and showing it to others are not desirable acts which one should refrain from. The child is not a toy and it needs rest and peace. Avoid speaking loudly in its presence and refrain from lifting him up and down in an attempt to soothe him. Hugging and kissing the child too are not good for him. (Ruwan shinashi kudak, p. 223)

The mother too needs lots of rest and strength. During the nine months of pregnancy she would have gone through lots of travails. Especially after delivery she would be very weak as if she has lost most of the blood from her body. At this time the thoughtful husband: should provide to her all possible comforts and with good nutrition try to put her back to normal health. If medical attention and medication is required, then it should be provided without any loss of time. If the husband is negligent at this juncture then the wife will remain dull and weak and the consequences will have to be borne by him too.

Mother’s Milk: The Best Nutrition

The mother’s milk is the best and complete food for the child. In many ways it can be preferred over the other food products available for them, like: the milk of cow, goat or commercially branded milk foods.

1. The mother’s milk, on account of its nutrient value, will be ideally suited for the machinery of the child. It is very compatible for the child’s needs because it has been drawing nutrition from the mother for nine months during the pregnancy and will continue to get the same contents from the milk provided by the mother.

2. Because the mother’s milk is utilised in its natural condition it retains its nutritive value. To the contrary the cows milk has to be boiled before use and many nutrients might get destroyed in the process.

3. From the point of view of the child’s health the mother’s milk is most preferable because it is least likely to be contaminated with germs because it is fed to child directly from the bosom. The other milk passes through many utensils and can be infected by germs in the process.

4. The mother’s milk is always consumed fresh, while the other milk might spoil during storage.

5. There is no likelihood of adulteration of mother’s milk but other milks have that risk.

6. Mother’s milk will be free of disease causing germs but other milk has the risk of carrying such organisms.

Mother’s milk is the safest food for the newborn and other babies. The children brought up on the mother’s milk are healthier as compared to those who are fed on milk from other sources. Infant mortality in children fed on mother’s milk is also found lesser than in the case of the other group.

There is another advantage in the mother feeding the child on her own milk is that her periods are delayed and the chances of her getting pregnant again are postponed to that extent.

Islam too stresses the importance of the mother’s milk for the child and terms it the natural right of the child to be fed on it.

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“No other milk is as good as the mother’s milk for the child." (Wasail al-shia, v 15, p. 175)

The mother’s milk is of such prime importance in the eyes of Islam that when she feeds her child on it, she is earning rewards for the Hereafter.

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“As many times as a mother suckles her milk to the child, so many times Allah’s reward to her will be equivalent to freeing a slave from the tribe of Ismail. When she reached the weaning stage, an Angel would put his hand on the arm of the mother and say,’ start your life afresh that your past sins have been pardoned!’" (Wasail al-shia, v 15, p. 175)

At a seminar in the University of Shiraz the experts agreed, to the last person, that any other food or combination of vitamins cannot be a substitute of the mother’s milk for the newborn child.

Dr Simeen Wakifi says:

“It is a matter of concern that lots of mothers, blindly following the practice of the Western women, forcing early weaning on their children, give them dehydrated milk powders and other synthetic baby foods. This practice is against the nutritional requirement of the child and is no substitute for the mother’s own milk which is superior in every respect." (Behdasht jismi rawafi kudak, p. 63)

Another expert writes:

“The mother’s milk is a unique food which nature has provided for the babies and no other feed is substitute for that. Therefore every effort should be made to see that the mother is able to feed the baby on her own milk. If the mother is running dry, she should take extra care of her own nutrition to revive lactation." (Aijaz khurakia, 258)

The responsible and informed mothers who are interested in the welfare of their children don’t deprive them of the bounty that Allah has provided to them. These women know the effect of the milk on the body and mind of the growing child. Therefore they sacrifice their own comfort for the health and welfare of the child. Only such women deserve to be called mothers and not those ignorant and selfish women who, despite proper lactation, render themselves dry and bring upthe children on dried milk powder.

The women who do not feed their babies on their own milk might become victims of several physical and psychological ailments. The cancer of the breast is one serious ailment that is prevalent in such women.

It is appropriate here to draw the attention of the mothers who feed babies on their own milk to take special care of their personal diet. The nutrition that the mother takes has a direct bearing on the nutritive value of the milk she produces. The mother’s food should be a balanced combination of different fruits, vegetables and grains.

Fluid and succulent foods are useful. The mothers should not think that only expensive food could be good food. They can judiciously plan a balanced food that can be nutritious and not expensive at the same time. They can refer to good books on diet planning for this purpose. One such books observes:

"Expert dieticians advise that lactating mothers should consume a combination of food products available to them. In particular they should include lobia beans, grams, milk, fresh butter, coconut, olives, walnuts, almonds, sweet and succulent fruits like water melon, gurma or musk melon, and pears etc." (Aijaz khurakia, 251-256)

Imam Sadiq says:

“If you have engaged a Jewish or Christian woman to foster feed your child then ask her to abstain from consuming pork and alcoholic beverages." (Mustadrak al-wasail, v2, p. 224)

If the feeding mother falls ill and has to take medication, she must keep the matter in mind that her own milk might get the effect of the medicines and harm the child who feeds on it. The mother should not indulge in using medicines without consulting a competent medical doctor.