On May 4th, I arrived in Tangier, Morocco for the Tribal Sisterhood Retreat. I attended the retreat to learn Moroccan postpartum rituals. I was excited to participate and to learn the wisdom from traditional midwives and elder healers. My life’s work is to heal trauma and bring spirituality back full circle in birth, by connecting birth and postpartum rituals to the African diaspora. The Tribal Sisterhood Retreat provided me an intimate look at postpartum rituals, while drinking delicious Moroccan mint tea.
The Moroccan Midwife
I loved the presentation given by the traditional midwife. It was so real and down to earth. She shared her personal story of becoming a midwife and how she provides postpartum care to mothers in their homes.
After the midwife’s presentation, she demonstrated the postpartum bath on a volunteer. It was beautiful, spiritual and a sacred ceremony. They had the volunteer sit on a small stool. Under the stool was a bowl or plate of steaming herbs to heal the birth area. These herbs are used for the postpartum time. The midwife and her daughter washed the volunteer with special soaps and prayed over her during the bathing ceremony.
Closing the Bones
After the bathing, they covered the volunteer from head to toe to keep her warm. Next, they laid her on a nice rug for the closing of the bones. The closing of the bones is very different than Mexico Rebozo bone closing. It consists of a heavier cloth, and there are two ways that it can be done. And it always follows by some squeezing, massaging and gentle pushing of the hips and bones. The goal is to help the bones and organs return to their right position. It is a skill that one must be trained for by the Moroccan women. The midwives completed the closing of the bones ceremony and put the volunteer to bed. Once in bed the midwife fed her dates and gave her hot tea to drink. What I observed in Morocco for postpartum care, is that it involves patience, nurturing, prayer, and plenty of loving touch.
“I felt such love during the bathing,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Every new mother deserves to feel like this.”
The Postpartum Party
The final postpartum tradition was attending the new mother’s party, that is put on for her and her baby. There are plenty of sweets, Moroccan tea, special food dishes, singing and belly dancing. In Moroccan culture, there is much honor, love, and prayers for the new mother and her baby.
I am inspired by the common thread of postpartum traditions within the African diaspora. These traditions include: nurturing, beautifying, celebrating, praying and singing; all to protect the new mother so she can heal, love, and care for her baby.
The Ritual of Love
Being loved is the ultimate postpartum ritual for healing. The Moroccan postpartum tradition displayed loved in the work, love for God, and love for the women, babies, and families.
The retreat experience was amazing: the venue breath taking, the people, beautiful and welcoming. I enjoyed walking past the cows, who were walking on the other side of the road, while passing a grove of eucalyptus trees. The tradition of drinking delicious Moroccan mint tea was soothing. It helped me to experience a true Moroccan tradition. I loved the impromptu evening belly dancing parties, that were led by an American and Moroccan attendee. A true cross cultural exchange. Being cared for with authentic traditional Moroccan dishes, left me feeling full and really special. Everyday, I had the opportunity to learn, reflect, socialize and relax. It was a truly amazing retreat.
Layla B., is the sponsor of Tribal Sisterhood Retreat. She is an amazing organizer and gracious hostess.