Being a new mom in Uganda

Wilsons_2013 Posted by Rory Wilson on Wed, 05 May 2010 | 2 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Like any country in the world people are very well meaning about giving advice/warnings to first time mums. There is no escape despite being in Uganda. It has been both amusing and a little irritating at times, the only saving grace is that the advice is cross cultural, so I can make my excuses by saying, ‘Oh we don’t do that in the UK.’ No one can really argue with that and therefore my lack of conformity is dismissed as ‘muzungu’ thinking or behaviour. Some of the Jaaja’s (grandmothers) however are not daunted and scold in Luganda about the apparent lack of care in some aspects.

Ugandans are big about keeping their babies warm once they deliver and often you will see mums carrying newborns in layers of blankets which also cover the child’s face and head. When the cover is removed you see a beautiful child’s face, with beads of sweat sitting on its nose! Nonetheless the child must be covered like this – so I have been berated by people I know and people I don’t, for example, staff in shops, for not covering up such a young baby. Also people have been very surprised that we would take a young baby out in public and mix with strangers, again in a supermarket scenario. The fear is that the child will pick up an infection.

Breastfeeding is what everyone does here and I am giving it a go, so far with success – although the first few days waiting for the milk to ‘come in’ was a little trying to say the least especially in a sleep deprived state! Again many people have offered advice as to what makes the milk come in faster, the main thing being eating the right foods – like millet, sim sim (sesame seeds) and porridge. I have to tell you that I haven’t tried any of these out but if any of you give it a go and it works get back to me. Not that I need it as I now have a bust Dolly Parton would be proud of!

The next big area is your abdomen and getting your figure back. Again this can be achieved by a few methods depending on where you come from. Either you get someone to rub your tummy in a very definite way and this helps, or you boil banana leaves and apply them in a particular way to your abdomen. Some people wrap their abdomen tightly with material to regain their figure. I have to say that I am not easily inclined to follow any or all of this advice; I think the breastfeeding is helping plenty already!

In relation to Gideon I have learnt a few things that I didn’t know before. So when an infant yawns here you often see the parent’s hand move to the mouth and try to control the yawn. I had a visitor in the house who was really distressed that I let Gideon yawn as widely as he wanted to and I couldn’t understand what was causing her so much distress. It seems there is a fear about the baby either hurting/damaging his jaw by yawning in the early weeks of life.

A lot of children here also have a tendency toward umbilical hernias and for that reason parents try not to let the newborn cry too much to avoid causing a hernia until the cord has dried up completely. Not such an easy task to prevent the crying!

That said there has been so much joy over the birth of Gideon, and we are pleased that so many people are sharing in the blessing that we have received. One Jaaja blessed Gideon by giving him a thousand shillings yesterday, the equivalent of approximately 30 pence. The blessing of a Jaaja is very significant here – this particular Jaaja is well known around the hospital so it was no small thing for Gideon to receive a blessing from her.

We look forward to more blessings from the Northern Irish Jaaja’s later on in May!



Jan Henderson said Sun, 06 Jun 2010 03:12AM
I loved reading your piece on being a new mum Denise, it was just lovely, I think you are in Northern Ireland now with your Irish Jaaja's of course you have a Kiwi Jaaja here in me!!! I think its hillarious watching a baby yawn, so keep it up Gideon! Much love to you all and David. Jan.
WEKI WAYO JOSEPH said Sat, 25 Sep 2010 08:29AM
congratualation on the new baby boy!i was glad to see him last thursday when i was in kiwoko. thank God so much because that is the most wonderful gift he gives. wishing u all God's every blessings. Nice kiwoko chase day.Say hi to Dr and Gideon.

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