Traditional Beliefs and Practices on Fertility.
Before civilization, sociomedical studies reveal that every community in the world had its own traditions and practices on fertility.
As you read, there are groups of peoples be it tribes, religion or a nation who still hold on to their fertility beliefs and practices.
However, we tend to ask ourselves what are the reasons or rather what is behind all these so-called traditional beliefs as well as practices? Sociomedical studies explain:
a.) Value of children to parents.
The economic utility of children was clear when there is land to be cultivated. The more the children, the more the land they would cultivate. In essence, children were a source of labour!
Another aspect is creation of wealth. In some communities, parents desire to have wealth because they were a source of income through payment of dowry.
In addition, socio-psychological reasons are among this ‘package’. Numerous children (both male and female) elevated the parent’s social position by increasing family kinship allowances through marriage.
Moreover, children were important signs of success and achievement. Sterile or even limited fertility was seen as a curse. Traditionally, a woman was first seen as a potential mother before being considered as an object of sexual attraction.
Lastly, children meant the continuation of lineage for the family.
b.) Fertility Regulation in the Traditional Society.
Sexual intercourse was forbidden during lactation/breastfeeding. This was achieved by :-
- Having the man sleep on his mat.
- The woman was advised to sleep in her mother’s home for at least 2 years.
- The man could marry another wife so that he could have sex while the other was lactating.
- Abstaining from sex during lactation.
Use of traditional herbs especially to a postnatal mother that help in recovering.
For the case of child spacing, withdrawal method was commonly practised as a natural way of family planning.
c.) Premarital Context of Sex
To conceive out of wedlock meant the girl would be married to an old man…old man! Surely…
If a girl became pregnant out of wedlock, it would reduce the value in items of dowry. On the other hand, among the Kisii tribe in Kenya, pregnancy before marriage is not a serious offence. It is a sign of fertility and therefore, the price would go higher!
Meanwhile, in some of our communities, a child out of wedlock that would die must be buried outside the compound. The Luhya community does it specifically in a banana plantation. How about yours? Aha…
Anyway, in most communities, there is a socially manageable age about which marriage would be almost impossible.
Generally, women were expected to be virgins at the time of marriage and men were expected to be experienced.
d.) Significance of Kinship and Extended Family.
- The bigger the family the wealthier.
- Source of security
- Recognition which leads to leadership roles.
- Heart of decision making i.e. concerning the welfare of the family and matters of incest e.t.c
- Education and preparing the youth. People with the extended family had specific roles that ensured training of both the girls and the boys.
- Fidelity which is preserved by arranged marriages after great scrutiny.
- Infertility that ensures marriages would be between people who have no background of infertility.
According to most traditions, being fertile is believed to be a positive thing. It creates a sense of pride. It proves continuity of a family. Africans for example, believe it connects them with their ancestors unlike infertility which is shunned. Otherwise, there are more articles related to this for your benefit like: