Traditional Midwives

Mothers of navels are women who have knowledge of customs, techniques and knowledge of the art of putting people in the world. These women, who survive from other occupations, experience the same socio-cultural reality as the women they attend and consider their midwifery role to be one of their attributes: they “take a boy” out of solidarity or to meet a need in the community where they live. Therefore, it is common not to charge for the activity. Day or night, under the sun or rain, “other women” give birth to their children in difficult-to-reach areas or outskirts of big cities.


They operate multiple roles in their communities (midwives, health workers, conflict mediators, etc.). They are usually older women, with no academic background, but with experience and knowledge about techniques, maneuvers and use of herbs in the cycle of gestation, childbirth and postpartum.

From the first assistance, the woman becomes a midwife and, thus, is called to assist other deliveries. Learning occurs in practice and / or with other experienced midwives. By listening the conversation of the older women behind the door, they knew how to act when it was necessary. In some cases, they begin in the trade as assistants or apprentices of older and experienced women in that craft.

The practice of traditional midwifery consists in the monitoring of gestation, delivery and postpartum, with variations. Some midwives are sought by the woman during pregnancy. Others do not follow the gestation, just the delivery and the postpartum. There are cases where they only attend the birth itself, leaving the responsibility for the care of the postpartum with the relatives of the parturient.

These days, during delivery and afterward cases, people like to hire professionally trained midwife (bidan, which is the term in Indonesian) at their homes or at hospitals.