Book Review by Manju Lahrech
Revive, Reclaim, Restore is a book written by Moroccan-British Layla B Rachid, which delves into both her personal story and the ancient customs practised in Morocco by the traditional midwives, called qablas.
Rachid is a traditional doula and entrepreneur (among other things) who writes beautifully of her personal experiences growing up in Tangier, how she was eventually led to becoming a doula herself, and her journey to helping revive the old ways and practices of her ancestors.
This book provides a great insight into the Moroccan traditional experiences and rituals around pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Rachid emphasises the importance of these practices being reclaimed, so this ancient knowledge is not lost, while providing a framework through which mothers, families and birthworkers can begin to understand the importance of decolonising the field of maternity care.
Mothers, and all those working alongside them during this time in her life, should read this deeply informative book to be reminded of how mothers were traditionally supported and cared for after giving birth. Rachid brings to the forefront the losses many women have suffered (whether they know it or not), both in the West where few traditions remain, and in places, like Morocco, where many attempts have been made by colonisers to wipe out these traditions and wisdom.
Traditions like these historically would ensure the mother is mothered herself. She would be supported by her community and allowed to rest and heal, while only worrying about caring for her baby. Nowadays, mothers are expected to heal, care for the baby and other children while still running a household and perhaps working too, with little to no support – and we wonder why postpartum depression rates have been skyrocketing in recent times. Rachid highlights the importance of this time in the mother’s life and that she must be taken care of especially well, as she is more susceptible in this period – as per the Moroccan saying that a new mother’s grave is open for 40 days after giving birth.
Fortunately, due to the hard work of qablas and individuals like Rachid, this priceless knowledge is being revived and documented, to prevent it being lost like so much other indigenous wisdom. She eloquently covers wide variety of topics, from the herstory of Morocco and her medicine, to cultural appropriation, to traditional recipes and much more.
Reading this book is a must for all, especially mothers, midwives and doulas. It reminds us of the importance of the postpartum period, and that the mother is the one who should be centred, so she can heal and best provide for her baby during what is a vital time for them both. The necessity of community connections and support, another vital essence sorely missing in the West today is also highlighted, reminding us that it truly does take a village.
Being Moroccan myself, I was entranced by this book and finished it in just two days, as it was deeply informative, engaging and beautifully written. Rachid weaves ancient wisdom with modern evidence, giving readers a wonderful insight into the rich and nuanced herstory and culture of her beloved Morocco. Again, I would recommend this to all, as it is filled with wisdom, many resources. While there are many books out there, I find not as many of them focus on the postpartum period, even less specifically on the mother during this time, and I would say none do so quite as personally and eloquently as Rachid’s Revive, Reclaim, Restore.
Rachid offers several workshops and trainings, which you can view on her website:
My name is Manju Lahrech and I am an emerging doula training at the Doula Training Academy. If you would like more information about my doula services, or to contact me: