When a Somali woman falls pregnant, everyone is delighted and her wellbeing becomes a concern of the community. In that regard, the Somali community has a set of customs that they believe ensures the safety and wellbeing of both the mother-to-be and her unborn baby. Abdia Mohammed, a Somali midwife in Kawangware, however, admits that some of the customs are no longer in practice, especially among Somali women living in the city. Even so, Abdia acknowledges the importance of the customs, sentiments that mama Khadija Hassan, a mother of eight from Syokimau, seconds.
Here are some of the customs Somali women are expected to follow when pregnant
When expecting, Somali women are not allowed to drink milk, particularly in their last trimester.
As Abdia Mohammed explains, drinking milk makes the developing foetus grow big and may cause complications to the mother during birth.
"Milk is not allowed as from 6 months, milk makes the child to grow big and this may affect the mother during child birth.” She explains.
The logic behind this is superstitious. A mother-to-be is not allowed to visit or meet a woman who recently lost her pregnancy as the bad omen might visit her as well.
“If you are pregnant, you don't want to interact with a woman who has lost her pregnancy, because her 'eye' may reach you, and you may end up losing your child as well," Abdia elaborates.
For a pregnant woman the period should be the most peaceful for her. In the same light, Somali women are advised to avoid trouble and to walk away from any physical confrontation when they are pregnant.
“When you are pregnant, you need all the support you can get. You are the weakest in the community and you can't risk to be in bad terms with people," says mama Khadija Hassan.
Pregnant Somali women should not come in come contact with a root called "Ergems" or "Aldeed". It is believed that the herbs can cause her to lose her pregnancy.
“These herbs are known to affect the pregnancy, and if by mistake she comes into contact with the herbs, she must wear the herb either on her wrist, waist or neck, to prevent her from losing the pregnancy," the Abdia explains.
When she is due, a Somali woman is not allowed to plait her hair. She is only allowed to plait her hair after a successful delivery.
"When she is going to give birth, she stands between life and death, and she keeps her hair unplaited same way she is buried when she dies", mama Khadija explains.
This custom is borrowed from Islamic teachings, where charity is believed to cast away evil eye and prevent bad decree.
“She gives a lot of charity in her community, asking for forgiveness from all and praying to the Almighty for a safe delivery, because we believe pregnancy is a stage between life and death," Abdia.
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