Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!
Next up in the world-building alphabet, we have birth. The birth of a child is a defining moment, and if you have a birth that happens in your story, you can use it to add a richness and depth that you may not have realized before.
Birth has only become a medical event as we know it now in the past couple of centuries. Before that, children were born at home, possibly with a midwife attending – but not always. A birth can also mean an impending celebration – especially if the new child is the heir to some sort of inheritance, power, or prophecy. Or it could be an event to be mourned for those same reasons.
Here’s some questions to consider about births in your world:
Are there any rituals performed at the onset of pregnancy, at the birth of the child, or any time in between? What significance do they hold?
Who cares for the medical well-being of the mother and child – is it a midwife, a doctor, or a robot? (No, seriously, robot. Remember Star Wars?) Something else entirely?
For the very bizarre fantasy worlds or sci-fi with aliens: which gender carries and gives birth to the child? How does gestation differ from human gestation?
Is birth a communal event, or a private one? Or, basically, who is present? The entire family, or just the mother and one or two attendants?
Is birth viewed as a sacred event, something commonplace, or something taboo? Why?
What happens when something goes wrong during delivery? (The baby is breech, the baby is stillborn, a need for a cesarean section comes up… or, you know, your world’s equivalent of a c-section. Or perhaps the procedure hasn’t been created yet.)
Who cares for the child after birth? Does this vary by status in society, or the gender of the child?
Is one gender preferred over another? If a child born is the ‘wrong’ gender, which parent shoulders the blame for not giving birth to the ‘right’ one?
How are infants with perceived abnormalities dealt with?
- Birthmarks: Are these viewed as the marks of a deity? Blessing or curse? Or just a random mark? Does it change depending on the shape of the birthmark?
- Deformities: Spina bifida, cleft palates, hands/feet/limbs that are misshapen, brain development issues, etc. Are children born with any of these revered, or shunned? Are they killed, or given a place of honor in society?
Depending on the technological advancement of the society, are any of these issues (gender, deformities, etc.) dealt with in utero?
Draw inspiration from your own ancestry.
How did the mothers from your family’s past give birth? Ask your mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother (if you can). Or do some research into the cultures that have shaped who you are today, whether by blood or simply by exposure.
Original photo used in header image by VeggieGretz.
My intention is to turn the A-Zs of Worldbuilding into a workbook after the Challenge is finished. If you’d like to stay notified about that, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. Please make sure and select the A-Zs of Worldbuilding option!