After Pregnancies

Pregnancy lasts nine months and nine days according to Iban calculation. When the child is born, the relatives present make noise with bamboo containers in order to frighten the child so that it will cry and not become a mild man when it grows up. At the present time a shotgun is frequen­tly fired into the air to startle the child.

After the child’s umbilical cord has been cut, the part that remains con­nected to the navel is sprinkled with dry earth powder from the hearth and this is repeated every day till it has dropped off. When the umbilical cord has been sprinkled, the child is bathed with water and wrapped with warm clothes. The child is then laid inside a cot covered with a woven blanket (pua kumbu). While the female relatives nurse the child, the midwife (bidan) massages its mother’s stomach; having done this, the bidan rubs the mother’s body with ginger water thoroughly, and then wraps her with a large, long bandage made from the inner bark of the tekalong tree. After she has been wrapped with this bandage, the woman is warmed for thirty days and nights by a fire made from the logs of the kayu malam tree. During this time the husband must continue to keep the more important taboos until the child is able to pull its toes with its fingers. For her own and the health of her baby, the mother should not eat fats, fish with sharp spikes and the cabbage of various palms during this time. Instead, she should eat cooked pulor fruits, kubok and rambai ferns together with smoked small fish and ginger water till her warming period are over. Con­servative families may want their daughter to warm herself by the fire up to forty-one days.