Protecting new life, and the role of cultural knowledge in protecting mothers and babies during pregnancy.

Me aro koe ki te hā o Hineahuone – Pay homage to the essence of womankind.

This whakataukī talks of the important role of women – te whare tangata (the womb) – who provide the home for pēpi during hapūtanga (pregnancy).

Women often make sacrifices to ensure their pēpi has the best start in life. They may make changes to their diets or give up smoking or drinking while they’re hapū.

Ask the whānau:

  • What changes have you made for the safety of your growing pēpi?
  • What has helped you to make these changes?
  • What has been the most difficult to change?
  • Who has supported the expectant mum?
  • In what way have they supported her?

Protecting mum and baby

Protecting mum and baby is an important message that’s repeated and emphasised throughout the Whakatipu booklet Te Kākano.

Another whakataukī in Te Kākano, page 2, is Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu – Although small, it is precious, like greenstone. This reminds us again of the importance of this new life, how precious it is, and how it’s totally reliant on its parents to keep it safe and secure.

Together with whānau, look at page 7 where it says, ‘Protecting māmā and pēpi during this time is very important’, and have a conversation with whānau about it.

  • What else have you read or heard about that has this same message?

This page also talks about the important role te whare tangata plays in protecting pēpi. It highlights the need for healthy food and for keeping māmā safe from stressful situations.

Tikanga and customs

We all have cultural practices, and every culture has thoughts and knowledge about protecting mothers and babies during pregnancy.

Some whānau are mindful of certain tikanga Māori and customs associated with te whare tangata. These customs may be practised to keep both māmā and pēpi safe.

  • Are you aware of any of your whānau tikanga around keeping a hapū māmā and their pēpi safe?
  • Are there any special things that your mother, aunties or grandmothers did during pregnancy?
  • How do other members of the family look after their pregnant women?
  • Are there any special foods that pregnant women are given?
  • Are there things that pregnant women don’t do or places they’re not supposed to go?
  • Are there things they are supposed to do?
  • Who can you ask, to find out what you might want to know?

Often parents already know a lot of tikanga without being aware that it’s specifically about protection. They might just think that it's ‘the way it is’.

  • Can you think of any ways of doing things that may be helpful to consider?
  • How can I help you contact people who might support you with this?
  • Are there any superstitions or traditional stories in your culture that talk about caring for pregnant mums?

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Kōrero mai, e aroha ana koe ki ahau – Tell me you love me

Six things children need – Te tūāpapa mō te tika me te hē – Limits and boundaries