Ritual life of the people of Sagada: Childbirth and infancy

Once a woman finds out she is pregnant, certain restrictions must be observed by her and her husband to ensure a safe delivery of their baby. For example, the husband must not fall trees or build stone walls, otherwise, the child might die right away after birth or the mother will have a hard time giving birth. Neither husband nor wife must be around a house of the nginin (cave-dwelling spirits that despise people with pregnant wives). These spirits are said to take the souls of children but spare that of adults.

The wife's mother and other female relatives help her at birth and take care of her afterwards. The new mother is not allowed outside as she is still considered to be symbolically tied to the baby until the navel string drops off. The umbilical cord is cut off with a knife-sharp reed (runo) and is buried with her after-birth discharges. Her first bath outside is at the rice fields as it is believed that a woman's blood from childbirth has fertilizing value for the fields.

As soon as the child is born, members of both sides of the family assemble and eat together as a symbol of unity of the two families that has been strengthened by the birth of a common grandchild. The afterbirth discharges are buried by the new father in front of the house. He will also announce the birth and gender of the new child to his dap-ay mates and provide them with gifts of tobacco. 

The mother is provided a separate dish, separate basket of sweet potatoes (camote), and a separate wooden bowl. 
No one is allowed to eat with her until the baby sheds off the last of the umbilical cord and the baby has been named. Only then can non-relatives visit the household.

The naming ritual is called Gobbaw and happens on the fourth day after the child is born. This ceremony ends the period under-which the household is under taboo. A chicken is killed and the father or grandfather recites the Gobbaw prayer. The ancestors of the child are invited to join to confer their love and protection. The inheritance of names from direct ancestors is practiced to keep their memories alive.

Once this happens, relatives, friends and neighbors bring etag,chicken, rice and other goods needed for the celebration. After theetag is cooked, it is distributed proportionally among all the guests. Traditionally, this event is not for children except if they are members of the immediate family.

If the woman dies of childbirth, the entire village do not go to the fields to work - they stay put for two days. On the third day, people may work but only in the forest but not in the rice and camote fields.

The dead mother is tied  to a deatch chair (sangadil) and a pig is scarfificed to the dead. Nobody eats the pig. Mournful songs are sungg and during sunrise on the second day the body is "buried", not on the burial caves but in the earth outside the village. The sacrificed pig is buried with her. This is done to prevent "infection" as her death is considered "unnatural". Her soul becomes an anito.