Pregnancy in Serukis

This article is specifically about pregnancy in Seruic people. For information on the Koushan Mai or dragons, please see Pregnancy in the Koushan Mai or Reproduction in Dragons.  

Life is growing inside you. Nuture it like Lord Faolan nutures each growing seed and your child shall blossom.
— Common Seruic saying
  Pregnancy refers to the time where one or more offspring are developing inside the womb of an adult human female. If there are no complications, pregnancy can last up to forty weeks and results in the birth of a child.  

Symptoms of Pregnancy

 

Early Signs and Discovery

Most pregnancies are suspected within the first few months, after an interruption or change in a woman's monthly cycle. Other early symptoms include tender or swollen breasts, unexplained nausea and vomiting, and more frequent urination.   Pregnancy is not usually confirmed until the belly begins to swell or until a woman feels the first flutterings of movement inside her womb. Some Seruic scholars have theorised that a woman's urine could indicate whether or not she is pregnant earlier than this, but no reliable method has yet been found.  

Later Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of later pregnancy is the growing belly. Other symptoms include back pain, difficulty sleeping, swollen feet and ankles, and generalised itching.  

Pregnancy in Society

 

Early Pregnancy

During early pregnancy, it is thought of as taboo to talk about the future of the pregnancy outside the family. It is thought that doing so increases the risk of something going wrong.   After a woman feels the baby move for the first time, it is traditional that she makes an offering to each of the Five Lords for the continued health of her and her baby. In larger towns and cities, women will travel to each of the different temples or one of the few temples in Serukis that is dedicated to all five Lords. In smaller towns or villages, women will either make her offerings at her closest temple or at an altar set up in her home for the occasion.  

Late Pregnancy

She has to keep working, poor love. Can't be good for baby.
— A patron about a heavily pregnant barmaid
  During late pregnancy - that is, the last three months - it is generally considered safer for the woman not to leave the home unless necessary.   For nobility, this often means the woman is confined to her bedchamber. Whilst there, she will be brought meals and generally be taken care of until the baby is born.   For anyone not nobility, it is often not practical for a woman to stay at home. For those not of nobility but comfortable in their finances, isolation generally begins in the last month of the pregnancy, as errands still need to be run and most do not want to impose on their neighbours for more than a month. For poorer women, isolation is rarely achieved at all, with some women working until the final days of their pregnancy.  

Birth

  The act of childbirth is considered sacred. In most cases, births are presided over by a midwife. In the nobility, a priest is also usually present.   In mechanical terms, the uterus begins to contract, the cervix dilates, and the contractions guide the baby through the birth canal to be delivered. Labour and the associated contractions can last up to twenty hours before the cervix is dilated enough for delivery. Teas for pain relief and rejuvenating energy are commonly provided by midwives, as well as encouragement and moral support. After the baby has been born, the umbilical cord is generally not cut until the afterbirth is also delivered.   Birthing rituals vary by location, with the area's patron Lord generally taking a bigger role in the birth. For poorer women, all five Lords may take an equal role during her labour, whilst in nobility a single Lord is often invoked to the exclusion of all others.   Childbirth is dangerous for both mother and child, and most birth rituals have provisions in place for the death of either.   For more in-depth discussion of the different birth rituals, see Birth Rituals of Serukis.

Prevention

  There are currently no reliable methods for avoiding conception in Serukis, though there are plenty of home remedies that are passed down from mother to daughter.   Some common methods include teas made from certain herbs, a scalding hot bath, or a charm made from the rib bone of a black cat. Another popular method is to insert a carved wooden disc inside the vagina to block the opening of the womb, though this comes with the risk of difficult removal.   Condoms made from sheep intestines are also sometimes used, but most often the onus for birth control lies on the shoulders of the woman.  

Cessation of Pregnancy

  There are several reasons why a Seruic woman may wish to end a pregnancy. Poverty is usually the greatest factor, as the daunting task of yet another mouth to feed looms large. Pregnancy as a result of rape is another large factor, though the shame of being an unmarried mother sadly weighs heavily on these women who have little chance of justice. Ending the pregnancy is usually seen as a better option than trying to raise a child as a single mother. Some women also may have had traumatic or near-fatal experiences in previous pregnancies and do not want to risk leaving their current children motherless.   Until recently, there were no reliable methods of ending an unwanted pregancy except a - usually fatal - trip to the local Butcher.   However, sixteen years ago in 1501 SE (5330 EA), an effective method of inducing miscarriage was discovered whilst a Priest of Nereus was attempting to cure early pregnancy nausea. He tried different herbal concoctions on twenty different pregnant women who were struggling with vomiting. Eleven out of twenty women miscarried the next day. When reviewing his notes, the priest realised that the same herb was present in all eleven mixtures that had resulted in pregnancy loss. This herb was red spur.   Whilst this resulted in the priest's estrangement from his temple and subsequent imprisonment, his discovery has allowed a new generation of Seruic women to better take control of their own bodies.


Cover image: by Janko Ferlič

Comments

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27 Jul, 2020 12:05

Very interesting article and nicely written!   The only thing that left me wondering was whether the priest suffered any consequences for miscarriages? I'd assume many on those mothers and the fathers would have been at least somewhat upset about losing a child.

Grandmaster Serukis
Emily Vair-Turnbull
27 Jul, 2020 12:07

He definitely did. I'll add a bit about that here, thanks! I intend on writing a whole article at some point about that particular incident, too.

Emy x
27 Jul, 2020 23:57

Excellent article, nicely detailed. I liked the link to the Butchers - not nice folk but glad to see them referenced again as that was another article I particularly enjoyed. :)

Grandmaster Serukis
Emily Vair-Turnbull
28 Jul, 2020 07:49

Thank you very much. Yeah not great people, but sadly would be utilised in these circumstances..

Emy x
Grandmaster CoffeeQuills
CoffeeQuills the Coffee Quaffer
28 Jul, 2020 12:43

I feel bad for the Priest of Nereus - yes, there needed to be consequences, but he did help others... and I'd love to read that article explaining more about what happened :)

Grandmaster Serukis
Emily Vair-Turnbull
28 Jul, 2020 13:12

Yeah, poor guy. He was doing his best. :( Thanks! <3

Emy x