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The First 40 Days

[u]The First 40 days[/u]
In this era, there are many different ways to give birth. Nowadays in the city, it is not uncommon to deliver in a hospital. Technology in larger cities such as Bengkulu, Curup, or Lubuk Linggau even allow for C-sections. However, the most common way of delivery is still in the home with a midwife. Sometimes there is also an elder woman present to help offer wisdom and assistance. For example, this lady may offer the birthing woman a little coconut oil or special water to help the delivery go more smoothly.

After the baby has been delivered and cleaned, the afterbirth is then washed thoroughly with rice and citrus water. It is believed to have a special connection with the baby. Therefore, the afterbirth is buried by the father, often in front of the family's home, with a lamp over it for forty days. They believe this helps keep the soul of the new baby "bright."

Also during the first forty days after giving birth, the mother is not allowed to do any work for fear it may cause her to become ill, hemmorage, or possibly die. This includes house chores such as sweeping, washing clothes, or cooking. Often a parent or sibling will come and stay with her and the baby during this time to lighten the load.

It is also commonly believed that babies are still able to see the spiritual realm, especially during their first forty days of life. During this time the baby still has a scent that attracts spirits. Therefore, the baby usually does not leave the home either. The baby often wears a special bracelet or anklet of red and black string, made by a shaman, to ward off evil spirits. Traditionally, the baby also sleeps with a few objects of special power near his head to keep away evil. This includes a coconut shell with a needle and thread, some uncooked rice, a little salt, a mirror, and a section of their holy book.

[u]Beyond 40 days[/u]
After forty days, the baby and mother are free to leave the home. There is often a hair cutting ceremony for the baby (See haircutting ceremony story for more)

Women wear their babies almost everywhere in a traditional Indonesian sling. Children usually sleep with their mother at least through their toddler years. In the Western world we may refer to the Lembak as an attached parenting society. However, amongst the people you will hear no talk of theories. This seems to just be the way things are. This may be just the nurturing nature of the people, but it is could very well be for practicality. If an earthquake or emergency happens in the night, it is safer for the baby to be in the arms of his mother than in another room of the house.  When cooking and doing housechores it is safer, easier, and more pragmatic to carry the baby around. In a sling or in bed a mother can also guard her little one against mosquitos that carry diseases such as malaria and dengue.  Wherever one goes amongst the Lembak, there are babies slung around mothers, played with by grandparents, and loved by all.  People generally believe having children is a great blessing from God. The Lembak are known for their tight knit families, so it is no wonder that they love babies so much.