get feedback from midwives or mothers who have had similar
experiences. I am not a midwife. I once apprenticed in
direct entry midwifery in Australia but had to discontinue
my training. I lived in India and now live in Indonesia.
Somehow or another I often end up being at births at home or
otherwise, usually to support the mother. Sometimes I am the
only one attending and even though I am not a midwife, end
up acting as one.
In this case my friend who was about to give birth to her
fourth child at home asked me to be present at the birth. I
had been at the birth of her third child. She had decided
not to go to hospital and to give birth at home, and asked
me to be with her. Since she was going to do it anyway I
decided to attend. The birth went well and she had a healthy
This time we were prepared as usual. I borrowed a fetascope
from a Balinese midwife and bought clamps and scissors for
the cord. I had been checking the baby's heartbeat for two
or three months so I would know its normal baseline sound
and be able to check it in labour. Although I am not a
midwife and in reality I was only there as a labour support
person, I decided to monitor the pregnancy and labour as if
I were the midwife, simply because there wasn't one!
The baby's heart rate was always around 117 to 120 and the
day my friend went into labour the heartbeat was steady and
reassuring. Her labour progressed in a funny sort of a way,
with the contractions not regular or increasing in length
and frequency but continuing nevertheless. I checked the
heartbeat regularly but did no internals since I figured it
was safer that way and the contractions could do their work
without my checking on progress.
Everything you need to know about Balinese Culture
Bali culture is totally unique and permeates through every aspect of life. The influence of Hinduism the main religion is evident in the music, drama, art, costumes and festivals which take place daily.
You'll encounter a festival almost every day, celebrating the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Anthropologists believe that the Balinese are descended from the ancient Chinese, the Indians and Arabs from the west, and others who came to the island directly or via Java.
Besakih Temple (Mother Temple)
Over a thousand years old, Besakih Temple is known as the "Mother Temple of Bali" Perched on the slopes of Mount Agung, at a lofty 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) Besakih is the biggest and holiest of all the Balinese temples. Named after the Dragon God believed to inhabit the mountain, it's said to be the only temple where a Hindu of any caste can worship.
Eighteen separate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups surround the three main temples dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. To the Balinese, visiting the temple sanctuaries is a special pilgrimage. The mountain top setting gives it an almost mystical quality. Steps ascend through split gates to the main courtyard where the Trinity shrines, dedicated to Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, are wrapped in cloth and decorated with flower offerings. There are are number of temples but many of their inner courtyards are closed to visitors. If travelling on your own, try reach Pura Besakih before 9am, when many tourist buses start to arrive, so that you can take in the lovely temple in the quiet Balinese morning.
Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur)
Bali's most spectacular temples located high on a cliff top at the edge of a plateau 250 feet above the waves of the Indian Ocean.
Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, the famous Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple is an architectural wonder in black coral rock, beautifully designed with spectacular views. A popular place to view the sunset.
Tanah Lot Temple
The royal Taman Ayun temple was built by one of the last priests to come to Bali from Java in the 16th century. The temple stands on top of a huge rock, surrounded by the sea and is one of Bali's most important sea temples. Tanah Lot pays homage to the guardian spirits of the sea.
Ancient rituals pay homage to the guardian spirits of the sea. Poisonous sea snakes found in the caves at the base of the rocky island are believed to be guardians of the temple, standing virgil against evil spirits and intruders.
The best time to see Tanah Lot is in the late afternoon when the temple is in silhouette.
Pura Tirta Empul
Built around a sacred spring, Tampak Siring. An inscription dates the spring all the way back to 926AD; and there are fine carvings and Garudas on the courtyard buildings. The temple and its two bathing spots have been used by the Balinese for over a thousand years for good health and prosperity; as the spring water really does have the power to cure! Regular purification ceremonies also take place here.
Tampak Siring artists produce marvellous bone and ivory carvings. Both sites open daily. By public transport from Ubud, catch a bemo north to Tampaksiring from the junction in Bedulu, which is south-east of Ubud.
A little off the main road in Tampaksiring is Gunung Kawi with its group of large stone memorials cut into cliffs on either side of a picturesque river valley. It is believed to date from 11th century, one is of Bali's most impressive sights.
No less stunning is the mountain resort of Bratan, in Bedugul, and the magnificent Ulun Danu, an inspiring place of worship that appears to rise out of waters of Lake Bratan.