Bede Birth

 

Photographer Farida Alam is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From her project ‘Survivor: Survived Against All The Odds’To see Farida’s body of work click on any image.

 

In Bangladesh, the nomadic community, known as Bede community is a unique social group of people with distinctive culture and heritage. The Bede used to live, travel, and earn their living on the river. Nowadays this scenario cannot be traced much.
This photo series represents the story of a pregnant Bede woman named Dulary who already had four children when she gave birth to her fifth child and it’s a boy. In Bede community, during their pregnancy the traditional midwives of the society always guide them. They never visit doctors unless it becomes crucial. It is a tradition of Bede community that children take birth with the help of the traditional midwives.

 

 

Unlike conventional society, Bede community is not male-dominated. Household chores are not labeled as “womanly” work, and most importantly, their men take care of their pregnant women.
When someone has labor pain, a group of Bede women usually leaves their work and stays home to support the pregnant woman. Also, the other groups who go to work share their earning with the women who stay home. Such a wonderful tradition and bonding they share which makes them unique.

 

 

I have seen Dulary craving for relief from her intolerable pain for long sixteen hours. Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws and it came true for her.
Dulary had no support of doctor or medical center in her crucial moments. They entrust to the midwife. Her trust won and she finally gave birth to a healthy baby. She forgot all her pain when she saw her baby. It’s not that birth is not painful, it’s that women are strong, and motherhood is the happiest feeling in this world.
Yes, it’s true that the birth process is unhygienic and different statistics can be shown which will prove that the percentage of vaccination rate during pregnancy is low, children don’t get immunization properly, but this is the way they are leading their lives for decades. Among all these pessimism I found them happy. This is a fact that they are far away from all the basic needs but this is the way they are living lives for years. I wanted to explore the birth process in Bede community, who has survived against all the odds.

 

All the houses of the Bede people are same in structure. The ceiling of their home looks like sphere awning. Dulary is trying to ease the pain of her labor by pushing herself by standing up and clinging tightly to the roof. It gives her strength to push the child to a normal delivery.

 

The woman with a jug full of water is trying to regain the consciousness of Dulary.

 

Covered and soaked in blood, umbilical cord connected to its mother, the boy took his first breath on this shabby mat to be labelled as a Bede.

 

The umbilical cord is the connection that a mother has with her child. Usually, with the help of medical instrument, this cord is separated. Bangladesh has been advanced with medical technologies long ago, yet Bede community live under the shadow of old times with their rituals. The midwife is using a thread for cutting the umbilical cord, which is usually used for stitching clothes.

 

The midwife is using blade for cutting naval of the baby. Usually, this is done with sterilized blade. However, Bede community does not maintain these hygiene issues. This is a risky process, which is infectious and harmful. But they believe that whatever the midwife is doing is for the best. Anytime, any mishap can happen. Bede community trusts their tradition and their experienced midwife.

 

The first shower of a newborn baby has been always special. In Bede tradition, the first shower takes place within the first hour of birth. Dulary’s boy getting his first shower after 30 minutes of birth. Most enjoyable yet daunting experience has been given to a newborn.

 

 

 

In Bede community, a childbirth might be a tension of “another mouth to feed”, but it does not at all mean that they do not get happy with a glee face of an innocent infant. A sleepy infant is nothing but the epitome of clarity and beauty. Life is undoubtedly the name of the struggle for Bede community. This photo of siblings time clearly depicts, they survive, survive by celebrating the life, survive by celebrating the happiness, above all they survive against all the odds.

 

See also:

Photographic Series

By Farida Alam

 

 

 

 

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