Omugwo: Understanding The Culture Behind Igbo’s Traditional Postpartum Care
Babies make us happy as they serve as a physical reminder of the love between the couple. After delivery, the baby has to be cared for which can be challenging for first-time parents. In Nigeria, various tribes have various practices to accommodate a new baby into the family like “omugwo for Igbo”, “ojojo omo for Yoruba” and “umaan for Akwa Ibom.”
Omugwo is a traditional Igbo custom for postpartum care by the mother of the couple. The importance of this practice is that it helps the new mother to ease into her new role through the experience of the mother(husband or wife).
During omugwo, it’s the responsibility of the mother (of the husband or wife) to put her through what she needs to eat to help with milk production for the baby’s consumption, Swedish massage techniques and hot water therapy.
After childbirth, the grandmother helps the new mother with hot water therapy and sitz bath. Hot water therapy involves soaking a cloth in hot water and using it to massage the new mother’s belly. Sitz bath is a necessary practice if the new mother gave birth vaginally so that blood clots in her womb can come out so she can heal properly internally.
The new mother will be given spicy foods such as pepper soup to help to flush out unwanted blood clots in her body and help to boost breast milk production. Pap is also another food option given to the new mother as it helps to boost her breast milk supply.
After-birth care, omugwo, is necessary so that the new mother can rest well to regain her strength. The practice of omugwo is helpful although there might be friction between the new mother and the mother of the husband or wife because of conflict in ideas.