The Custom of Childbirth


Childbirth during the Edo period was generally seated delivery, and the woman in labour used a rope suspended from the ceiling, or an assistant, as support. The new-born baby was given its first bath by the midwife, who seated herself in front of the bath tub, and bathed the baby by placing it on its face on her lap. One reason for doing this was to protect the opening made from cutting the umbilical cord from getting wet. Another reason was because it was commonly believed that one should not take their eyes off the child's back, which, according to a Chinese belief, was an important place which accommodated all five viscera (liver, lungs, heart, kidney, and spleen).
The mother of the new-born child, in accordance with a popular tradition to prevent blood from rushing to her head, had to spend seven days and seven nights seated, either in the delivery seat or leaning against a piled up futon. It was not uncommon for this practice to ruin the woman's health.

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