Did you even think how childbirth going in Nigeria? In this article, you may observe the general situation of women giving birth conditions in Africa and also learn some new information about culture traditions of some tribes concerning questions of natural childbirth.
Nigeria is an African country situated on the coast of West Africa. It`s very beautiful and nature flourished country with a great variety of fauna and flora. It`s home to many tribes and ethnic groups, but the main cultural representatives of them are Igbo, Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba.
Even in the 21st-century cultural practices, poverty, shortage of adequate health care become main reasons which force Nigerian women to seek the help of untrained birth attendants. Despite the risks women usually have no choice of that. According to the World Health Organization, only 40% of females gets professional help in child delivering. The mortality rate during childbirth is pretty high, 5% of women die due to reasons described above.
The hemorrhage is the main enemy for women, no untrained attendant can help with this foe. Despite that, many women seek their help. They are ready to wait in line near a small hut where two people can barely fit in. There is no ventilation, poor service and poor care for expectant mothers. Even if labor starts, women still have to wait in line to give birth.
Pregnancy is a very important part of Nigerian culture. Traditionally, girls in Nigeria marry at a very young age. In rural areas, they can definitely be given as a bride to a man who already have one or more wives. In rural areas, women get married as it provides their social status. When the one is married it`s inevitable to have a child. Perfectly in the first year of marriage, boys are preferable. In another case, if she can`t give birth or get pregnant for a long period of time, it may occur for local as a bad sign or even a curse.
In rural areas children usually appear in the world not in hospitals but in households with the help of no doctors.
Hausa-Fulani in Northern Nigeria
As it was mentioned, girls of this ethnic group are to be given as brides at the very young age. Usually, when the menstruating cycle begins it symbolizes that a lady is ready to be a fiancé. That`s why 14-15 year girls are forced to marry men who are older to them and already have wives. According to the international organizations, these girls in average give birth to 5 children by the age 35. Doctors do not frequent guests at during childbirth, especially if they are men. It`s prohibited for married women to be in close content if the man is not her relative.
Igbo in Ester Nigeria
If it`s impossible to a woman to procreate a child, her womanhood can be endangered. The pregnancy in this ethnic group is not to be announced for 12 weeks due to fear of curses. Also, women who are to be given a child sit on a strict diet which prohibits her to consume some food, like kola nut. Also, she is strictly monitored by older women of her husband`s family. Also, well-known practice “LLe Omugwo” is popular in these lands, when mother-in-law assists with taking care of the baby. Also, most Igbo children to be given a name by surrounding current family circumstances. The first daughter is usually to be given name “Ada” or its variations. Newborn males are to be circumcised on the 8 days after their birth.
Yoruba in Western Nigeria
Similar to the majority of tribes, Yoruba prefer giving birth in households, not in hospitals. The helper for bringing a new child to the Earth can be either midwife or attendant. There are also rules for childbirth:
- No one speaks until baby starts crying.
- No one younger than a mother is allowed to be present during the childbirth.
- The baby is to be sprinkled with water to make him/her cry.
- For making baby strong it`s inadvertent to shake her/his three times upside down.
- 8 days after, the baby is to be given a name by family.
- The child is to be bathed and rubbed with palm oil.
- Yoruba can have more than ten names during life.
The childbirth is a marvelous miracle of life. This miracle is to be protected not only by culture and medical care but people itself. The diversity of ethnic groups in Africa provides their special vision for giving childbirth. The reasons for 60% percent of women for not having adequate prenatal and postnatal care, especially in rural areas are pretty obvious.
Culture references which do not allow experienced and professional doctors to attend future mother and the poor economic situation in the whole country. That`s why natural childbirth is pretty popular among tribes. Even so, the traditions for women giving birth are quite understandable, but only 95 percent of women in Nigeria can expect to raise their kids. Don`t forget about new mothers’ post conditions, unfortunately, after giving birth no medical support for new mothers is also inevitable.
Despite the traditions and culture of birth giving, the medical care, or, at least, observation is also needed. Unfortunately, some traditions don`t support modern medical help and prefer to stay on their own.