Ancient Egyptian society placed a great deal of emphasis on family. Children played an integral role and it was desirable to have a large family. If you had a lot of children, the Egyptians believed it was a sign that the gods had blessed you. In this article, you will learn more about the way ancient Egyptians viewed aspects of childbirth.
Since having children was associated with being in good favor with the god, women spent a great deal of their life rearing and caring for kids. If a woman was unable to have a child, adoption was a common method of solving this problem. Concrete archeological evidence regarding ancient Egyptian childbirth and the way young children were cared for is scarce. However, researchers have been able to learn about childbirth concepts by analyzing carved wooden animals or clay dolls. Some depict the bond between parents and children.
To encourage pregnancy, the ancient Egyptians believed that spells and remedies could help and keep mothers healthy. They called upon the gods and other tactics to keep sickness away and promote good luck. Amulets were also used.
Naming a Child
In ancient times, medical knowledge of the human body and the possible complications of childbirth were obviously not as extensive as today. A newborn baby faced many obstacles in order to survive. Fevers and diseases were commonplace and many families did not have the means to pay for the assistance of a doctor. The medical remedies they did have were not as effective in treating the ailments that affected newborns. Some treatments even worsened the condition of a sick infant.
Immediately after birth, the mother gave a child a name because the ancient Egyptians believed that a baby did not truly exist unless they had a name. The naming of a child was also significant in the case that a baby did not survive. Egyptians felt that the deceased would enjoy an eternal life as long as if they had a name that would be remembered.
If a baby was born into royalty, they were given a long name, which came with lengthy nicknames as well. Non-royal babies typically had only one name. It was a common practice to choose a name after a favorite deity. Sometimes, babies were named after a royal person. Family names did not exist. Children were defined as being the son of the family patriarch. For example, you’d see Tut, son of Hatu.
After Birth Rituals
Cited in the Westcar Papyrus, the tale of Reddjedet unfolds, who after giving birth, pays the midwife-deities in corn and ‘cleansed herself in a purification’ that lasted 14 days. The mother and child were allowed to rest. They were secluded after the delivery, which is a custom that some people still practice to this day. Any female occupants of the household took on the responsibilities of the new mother so that she could spend time with her newborn.