I’m not going to claim any historical or medical accuracy for some of the things I’m about to say but it seems to me that regarding women and childbirth, things started getting a little crazy back in the 60s.
Remember the dawn of the “natural” child-birth era when women, along with their husbands, were expected to jointly attend child-birth classes where the expectant mother learned to properly breath while the husband mastered techniques of coaching and cheer leading his wife through the delivery experience?
About that same time many women began adhering to the idea that the fetus should be read to and subjected to the gentle strains of classical music while securely swimming in a sac of warm embryonic fluid.
Speaking of warm embryonic fluid, having your child in a bathtub filled with warm water had its moment in the spotlight as well. Not sure what the theory was, maybe having a kid exchange one warm-wet place for another wouldn’t shock it into reality so harshly. I’ve known a couple of kids who came into the world in a bathtub and they seem to be just as nuts as most kids I’ve known.
Somewhere between then and now the feeding of a new-born began to change and women were cautioned that their child may not turn out right if they didn’t suckle them to their breast rather than bottle feed them. I remember years ago in South Carolina, wet nurses sitting in the city park and breast-feeding their young charges while seeking comfort under the shade of a large live oak tree. Given that experience I still wasn’t prepared to walk into a McDonald’s in rural Ohio and, without warning, come upon an exposed bare breast stuffed in an infant’s chops.
Given all the theories, fads, myths, claims, and established medical truths we’ve witnessed in the last fifty-years I wouldn’t be shocked if I was to pick up a newspaper and read that women were now being told they should lick the afterbirth off their infants, akin to what mother drafts do in the wild, to strengthen the mother child bond. Well, I say I wouldn’t be shocked but, today I picked up a cyber newspaper and, to my shock, read that a woman in New York City has started a company that processes fresh placenta into dried jerky strips or capsules of ground placenta powder for consumption by the new mother.
A little further digging revealed that such is not a new practice and in many cultures some form of placenta consumption is commonplace. I even came across a New York magazine article on the subject titled, The Placenta Cookbook (caution, this article may be disturbing).
So, now that I can’t be shocked about this, what can I be shocked by? Maybe I’ll be shocked if I were to learn that today’s perfect mother chooses to give birth as a traditional Eskimo mother does, in a shallow pocket carved into a snow bank. Possibly some young entrepreneur will found a company providing stylized biodegradable birthing banks and recyclable, one-time only, mini snow-making machines for home use.