Maternova: Birthways Cultural Catalogue Proposal


After much research and consideration… and some long and fascinating research describing the incredible variety of birth rituals, superstitions, and practices around the world, I decided that an interactive online cultural catalogue would likely prove to be an invaluable resource for innovators, field workers, governments, and organizations interested in doing their part to curb the maternal mortality rate.

Some cultural practices were simply supportive of mothers, or described the role various people should play during the birth. Other cultural practices limited the rights of women before, during, or after birth. Some practices endangered the child – particularly umbilical cord practices such as treating the cord stump with ash or dung. Some practices endnagered the mother, like requiring that she give birth away from the home. In Nepal many women give birth in the cow shed. There are many unique practices that may support, endanger, or enhance the journey from pregnancy to motherhood, and if we are to effectively address the problem of maternal mortality, we must understand what birth means around the world, and we must understand what is important to the families and the mothers of the children yet to be born.

The Birthways Cultural Catalogue would provide users with a carefully structured platform upon which to exchange stories about pregnancy, birth, and post-natal practices around the world. Not only would Maternova be providing access to technology that was previously inaccessible – Maternova would be providing access to cultural knowledge that was previously trapped as well. The combination of these two would support the creation of new solutions.


Field workers going to a new country could research and know what to expect upon attending a birth. Innovators could refer to unique cultural norms or practices, and take them into account during their problem solving and ideation processes. Governments could better gauge how to assist their own people, and people from other countries, if they knew more about their way of life. Organizations like Maternova would have a chance to better acquaint themselves with their greatest stakeholder: the pregnant mother.

Cultural practices related to birth are some of the most specific and important. Birth is the way we all came into the world… and if there is a sacred moment in life, it is the moment of our beginning. By providing deeper understanding around the idiosyncrasies of birth worldwide, we can gain a deeper understand of how to accommodate a healthy birth holistically… how to effectively get a mother to a doctor, how to effectively problem solve when faced with unfamiliar scenarios. If we truly want to help, we must understand who we are helping, and tailor our efforts to their way of life, and choose our spice such that it enhances the flavor of their lives.


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