My name is Aravinda, I have one 6 year old daughter. I have learned much from mothering magazine and mothering.com discussion forums over the years, including how precious are so many of our traditional practices that are fast disappearing without a thought as traditional societies march towards modernity. Specifically I am alarmed about the discrimination towards midwifes and the blind embrace of technology in birth. In India we are seeing rapid mass conversion towards hospital birth with no further role for the midwife or the community of women and traditional wisdom and empowerment for the mother giving birth. In parallel and perhaps stemming from this conversion we see a host of other conversions - towards artificial feeding, distrust of the body, diaper use, and other detachment mechanisms. Thankfully so far we haven't seen a rapid conversion towards separate sleeping for babies and children, though I have reassured more than one "modern" parent that this is safe and healthy. (One was a medical doctor / pediatrician. The other a PhD in astronomy. I pointed them to Dr. Sears!)
Recently I was fortunate to attend the Perinatal Conference in Fairfax, Virginia. I spoke about some of the experiences that women in Srikakulam shared regarding labour and birth, my observations in adivasi socieities, and the environmental and human rights threats posed to communities where traditions of midwifery, babywearing, breastfeeding, cosleeping and natural hygiene were intact and taken for granted without needing revival, retraining, and legal defense. (my abstract: http://aravinda.aidindia.org/?p=179)
South Asian parents have live, real life support for some of the issues that many MDCers grapple with ... and yet often it makes more impact if you hear about it from someone else, especially via internet. In spite of living among people who felt that diapers were gross, who raised eyebrows when my baby showed up in one, and who casually mentioned to me that I could hold baby over a sink or bowl and say "ssss" I got really confident about natural hygiene or "EC" (elimination communication)only through the support of mothering.com forum on EC. GOfigure (I have written about my ECjourney here: Decommissioning the Diaper)
Saddest part is that within the past few years in India too there is a RAPID mass conversion towards diaper use. In the same neighborhood in Bombay where no one would ever show up in the playground with a baby in a diaper, and people told me that they had *never* used a diaper (other than a regular cloth) has now accepted the disposable. This brings with it huge changes in social attitudes, communication, body image, personal health and hygiene, and of course economy, environment and public health as well.
There are also quite a few things I learned from MDC and thanks to MDC swam against the tide of my family and community. As part of allowing our baby to start solids at her own pace, we also allowed her to eat them with her own hand. Ah, the looks (and warnings) we got for not "feeding" our baby. Yet this is one of THE most valuable tips I got from here and one that has served us well over the years. Not to mention approaches towards health, medicine, NIP, etc. Hoping to hear from many more South Asian mamas ... may our tribe grow!!!
I realize this thread was started some time ago but I just had the idea of looking for a "tribe" that was anywhere near where I am currently living and South Asia is the closest (we are super close to Pakistan - that counts as South Asia, right?). I live in Tajikistan and have lived here for 20 months now with my husband, 4 year old daughter and 2 year old son. I enjoyed your post and too am seeing an influx of disposable diapers in a culture that has traditionally used ec. I didn't ec with my two but want to try it if we have a third. My 2 yr old goes diaper-less most of the time and at least communicates with me about when he has to go (sometimes) but refuses to sit on a potty to do so. At this point I'd rather have him go without a diaper most of the time and just clean up the mess than try to enforce to him that he must go in a diaper. I too have asked many local women (when he was younger) how to ec and it seems like since it's second nature to them, they aren't really able to explain it to my ultra-novice level. I'm learning a lot from these forums as well. Do you still live in India? I've never been to India but I would love to visit someday.
Checking in here from New Delhi! Hi to all the other South Asia moms!
We have been here 3 months and settling in quite nicely, I think we are really going to like it here!
I plan to do all I can to be an advocate for all things natural and thus normal! So far I am homeschooling my kids and getting to know people!
any other South Asia mamas out there?
I don't live in India but I do only live about a 5 or 6 hour plane ride away in Tajikistan and I'm also an American. I'm glad to hear you like New Delhi so far. How are your kids adjusting? Are you learning Hindi or another local language? We've been in Southern Tajikistan for 2 years now and I have a 4 yr old (4/10/07) and a 2 yr old (5/30/09). There have certainly been PLENTY of things that have required adjustment but we are all pretty well accustomed to life here now as well as communicating in the local language (a dialect of Farsi). The hospitality of Tajiks is AMAZING and we have been blessed over and over again by how our community has welcomed us. I hope your transition continues to go well and would love to hear more about how you're doing when you get a chance.