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Pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood in the heart of Africa

Pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood in the heart of Africa


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I never would have imagined that, like, doula my steps would take me this far. Doulas are women, mostly mothers, who accompany other women on the road to motherhood. Its fundamental task is to provide support, both physical and emotional, during childbirth and the puerperium.

Our training includes knowledge about the physiology of pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium, childcare, lactation, prenatal education, gynecology ... in addition to all the studies that provide us with knowledge to help mothers.

This year I began my journey as a humanitarian aid worker. I needed to know first-hand how women from other cultures carry out motherhood and wanted to help as much as I could. Thus began the most enriching experience of my life, in Senegal, my adventure had begun. I arrived in Dakar by plane, but my final destination was on a route, where the road does not exist, it literally disappears. In Touba Merina, people live in a group of circular straw huts, with dirt floors, without water or light, in a barren land.

In the time I have dedicated to mothers, I was able to find out how they experience motherhood. The main objective of marriage is to have children who, among other things, collaborate with their work to support the family, and who, when they are adults, take care of the elderly. They do not usually go to regular pregnancy check-ups, or to family planning services. These villages are very far from the centers where there is a nursing home, and their means of transportation is a cart with a donkey, so it is not easy at all, apart from a waste of time given the tasks they have to carry out in their village. They take care of the elderly, children, livestock, house, etc.

In addition, there is still some mistrust towards Western family planning services, since it is suspected that in their countries of origin, during the colonial era, these services covered up sterilization campaigns. However, it is common for women to avoid pregnancy during the months after pregnancy, as this would mean cutting off breastfeeding, with the consequent risk to the newborn. In these cases, the most common contraceptive method is sexual abstinence.

Pregnancy is considered as something natural and, therefore, without much control. Continued visits to the specialist are a sign of illness, and they are not sick. The problem of anemia and malnutrition so common in these women due to poor diet works against them, there is a strong morbidity in childbirth. In the case of anemia, minimal bleeding causes the death of the woman, in addition to infections due to lack of water and cleanliness.

Removing these medical problems, they have something that we have lost, they reunite with their mothers, friends, relatives and live the pregnancy together, comforting themselves, wrapping themselves, telling their fears ... they are not alone. They are doulas in the community, helping and supporting each other at all times. They work together, sing, dance, cook, take care of each other and their children, who are the fruit of the community. Shoulder to shoulder, everything belongs to everyone. That is what our grandmothers used to do, accompany each other. They create a circle of women.

In childbirth, they usually present a very low expression of pain. Both women and children are prepared to endure pain and I have seen children with deep wounds, who did not make the slightest gesture of pain in the cures. If the woman in labor expresses pain during her delivery, it is considered an offense to the family.

In the extended family, the care of children does not depend so directly on the parents as on the nuclear family, and it is very common for children to be cared for by their aunts, sisters, cousins ​​or grandmothers. Shared childcare by all family members includes breastfeeding. Colostrum is often considered to be not entirely beneficial for the child, so until the mother finishes the colostrum phase, other women in the family tend to breastfeed the child. Also after this phase it is common for breastfeeding to be shared.

You can read more articles similar to Pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood in the heart of Africa, in the category of Stages of pregnancy on site.


Video: AP focus on high mortality rate for mothers during childbirth (May 2022).