Unconventional labour practices

October 31, 2012 Country Uganda Filed under HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights 0 Comments

Going for labour is something women look at with great anticipation and mixed emotions. There also exist some unconventional practices which are attempted in various settings presumably to induce labour.

These practices, although not approved by physicians, range from taking a sip of wine, taking a walking exercise, having sex and eating certain food.

Catherine Nalunkuuma, a mother of three, says: “I used cooking oil to smear on my belly, and this I learnt later because before, I never used to smear myself with anything. But for my subsequent deliveries, I never smeared anything because my body was used [to it].”

The Baganda of central Uganda deploy an even more unconventional practice called okumenya, literally translated as softening the (pelvic) bones and joints. This involves heating dry cow dung and assorted herbs in a pan. A woman then squats on it while it is still hot and wafts the smoke from the pan underneath her vagina.

I recently bumped into this fetish-like concoction and sought to find out what it used for. A woman called Margaret Apio explained told me it is burnt and smoked as people believe it softens the muscles and bones of the lower abdomen and will allow the baby to move down slowly and easily.

However, medical practitioners say that certain practices performed by women in inducing deliveries may endanger the baby and woman should wait for the right time for the baby to be delivered.

Posted by James Kityo

I am a health management and planning consultant, with vast experience in implementing community health projects. I do social justice health advocacy. My interests include; education, environment, health and health care. As a KC, I promote awareness on health, HIV, AIDS, health systems, and work with marginalised groups for better livelihoods.

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