Ancient and traditional cultures seem to have pregnancy and childbirth practices that are more humane and enlightened than those followed in modern society.
They are attuned to the concept of conscious parenting.
In conscious parenting, a family becomes a reality from the moment of conception.
Parents are consciously aware that their thoughts, attitudes and behaviors influence their child’s development and health from the idea of conceiving a baby through its pre- and postnatal development.
A prime example is an east African tribe who foster true intimacy before birth. This tribe begins talking to the baby before conception, to create a relationship and to bond before birth.
They count the birth date of a child not from the day of birth or conception.
The birth date is fixed by the first time the mother thinks of the child in her mind.
When a woman intends to conceive a child with a particular father, she sits alone under a tree. There she listens until she hears the song of the child who wants to be born to her. Once she has heard it, she teaches it to the father so that they can sing it together as they make love, inviting the child to join them.
After conception, the mother sings it to the baby in her womb. She teaches it to the old woman and midwives of the village, so that the child is greeted with its song throughout labor and at birth.
After the birth all the villagers learn the song of their new member and sing it to the child if it falls or hurts itself. They also sing it in times of triumph, in rituals and initiations.
This song becomes a part of the marriage ceremony when the child is grown, and at the end of life, his loved ones gather around the deathbed and sing this song for the last time.
Another illustration comes from cross-cultural studies on birth. Three cultures, Tibetan, Balinese, and Aboriginal Australian, embrace the idea that fetuses are capable of interacting with and being deeply imprinted by their social environments.
Tibetan Medical Paintings, an 11th century illustrated text, deal with each week of life in the womb.
In the twenty-sixth week, the child’s awareness becomes very clear and it sees its former lives. It can see if it was a pure being or an ordinary being, and what type of birth it had before it took this birth.
In Bali, as soon as a woman becomes pregnant, she consults with the village healer. He helps her enter into a dialogue with the child in the womb in order to discover the child’s identity and purpose in life. Those two questions — of identity and purpose — follow through all Balinese education and spiritual training, which aim to assist the incarnating soul to fulfill its destiny.
In Aboriginal Australian society, the spirit of the child is believed to exist prior to conception. Robert Lawlor writes: “To the Aboriginal mind, the modern explanation of conception as the collision of a tiny sperm and egg is absurd. In their view, sperm may prepare the way for the entry of the child into the womb, but the spirit of the child appears in the father’s dreams or inner awareness before conception.”
Aboriginal women provide a temporary haven for a being with its own pre-existing spiritual identity.
From the moment of conception, the child is made to feel that it is a valued part of its social and natural environment.
The spirit does not fully enter into the fetus until roughly ten weeks after conception.
One researcher of traditional cultures, Jean Liedloff, was impressed by the psychological health and resilience of the Yequana Indians of Venezuela whom she visited. She concluded that Yequana birthing and childrearing practices were responsible for their humor and equanimity: the child is made to feel that it is a valued part of its social and natural environment from conception.
Similar attitudes are found in Cherokee childbirth practices.
Dhyani Ywahoo notes: “We choose a family wherein our gifts may flourish, through which we can complete a cycle of learning.
“Even when we are within our mothers we begin to hear and feel our family around us. Within the womb the young person is sensing the qualities of its parents’ minds and responding to the thoughts directed by other people toward the mother. For this reason it is important that mothers-to-be have a loving support system and an environment as free from anger as possible.”
To learn more about the research and cross-cultural parallels that are part of 45+ years of collecting pre-birth memories and experiences, please read Cosmic Cradle: Spiritual Dimensions of Life before Birth.