Eid mīlad sa'aīd

There are many different customs and practises that take place in the world to mark the arrival of a new baby. From saving the top layer of your wedding cake for the Christening in Scotland, to tying a red string around baby’s wrist until the Christening ceremony and keeping the new-born indoors until then in the Ukraine. In China a party is held on the 100th day and gifts of money are given whilst in India a baby is not named until after it is 3 months old and the personality is clearer.

No matter what your beliefs, culture or nationality though the physical act of child-birth is fundamentally the same for all women. Working as a Doula in the UAE has allowed me to experience this first-hand. I have been fortunate to support a cross-section of women, from Irish to French, English to South African, and, just recently, a local Emirati lady. And whilst the physical biological process is similar the things that inspire and motivate my clients to push a little harder, and dig a little deeper, most certainly are not.

My last client, Wafa, prepared herself for her baby’s birth by maintaining her fitness levels through walking on the beach everyday...nothing dramatic there except this was during a very hot summer, and it was Ramadan! As the baby was OP (occiput posterior) the labour took a long time, 27 hours before she reached the pushing stage. Her preparation and fitness really paid off, so did her eating regularly during the labour (even when she didn’t want to) to keep her strength up, which allowed her to achieve her goal of a natural delivery even though it took some time. We experienced 3 shift changes in respect of the midwife, which was interesting as each had a different approach, and brought different energy, to the process. Mohammed, proud father-to-be and supportive husband, made sure we were both well fed throughout the process, even though he himself was fasting during the day. This was vital in ensuring that Wafa stayed well fed and well-nourished during the delivery process.

I work with each of my clients to make sure that they have something to inspire them for when the going gets hard and they need to stay focussed. Sometimes this will be certain music (which is why I love playlists) or the presence of a particular person. For Wafa it was most certainly her religion that inspired her the most, and for the pushing stage of her birth we played Sura Maryam.

Sura Maryam is a chapter (sura) from the Qur’an about Maryam (the Virgin Mary), mother of Jesus (or Isa in Islam). It is recommended that all Muslim women read this sura during their pregnancy, and for them to hear it during labour. It is said to be of great comfort during the contractions and birth, and this was certainly true for Wafa.

The chapter beautifully describes the story of Maryam. It speaks of the conception, and birth of the prophet Isa, and is essentially the same story we learn in the West as children. It also details Maryam’s pain in labour and how an angel appeared and told her to "grieve not" but to shake the tree trunk and eat the dates that fell from the tree and drink water from a spring at her feet. The chapter also speaks of her purity and piety as well.

Baby Saud finally arrived on the 8th of August 2012. This was the 1st day of the final 10 days of Ramadan and considered to be a very special and blessed part of Ramadan. In these last 10 days Muslims believe that every moment counts. So all efforts of ibadah (worship), doing good deeds, reciting the Qur’an, making dua (supplication) and dhikr (invocation to commemorate Allah) are intensified in these last 10 days as the rewards for these acts are multiplied during this period.

Another tradition for a Muslim birth is that the first words baby hears should be Allah’s word, so Mohammed cradled his newborn son in his arms and whispered first into one ear, and then into the other, a passage called Adhan* (also known as the call to prayer).

What a special time, and an amazing way, to welcome a cherished baby boy.

Welcome baby Saud.

* To hear the Adhan (complete with English subtitles) click here

** "eid mīlad sa'aīd" means happy birthday in Arabic


  1. Wow,
    I love the photo of that. Truly wonderful and precious.

  2. Just read this today, beautiful. Brings back memories and emotions from Molly's birth and your help! x

  3. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.