Thursday, October 24, 2013

AFTER Giving Birth in Ghana

I gave birth almost 40 days ago.
How do I know that strange number, you may ask?
Because I've been in the house since then.

In the culture where I now find myself, mother and baby don't usually stay in the hospital long.
If it was my first child, my mother would come to stay with us for the next forty days.
She would do all the running of the household, the buying and cooking of the food, the washing of the cloth diapers and clothes, and the bathing, changing, rocking, and caring for the infant.
I would feed the baby.....and eat......lots and lots of fufu.
If it wasn't my first baby, then a young girl from my extended family would come to help.
This is the way things have been done for a long, long time.

It is thought that a grandmother must come, because a new mother would have no idea how to care for an infant.
A mother must have time to heal and recover her strength before taking on the numerous and arduous tasks of running a household, cooking over a fire, walking to market, going to the farm.
A mama needs a helper to wash the piles of dirty diapers, gather firewood or start the charcoal, fetch water.

A new mother and her little one need time....
time to learn how to nurse and how to eat....
time to grow strong so as not to succumb to the germs that are a part of daily life....
sadly for some, time to see if this new life will survive....
time for baby to gain strength of neck so as to be carried on mama's back....
and time for mama to gain strength to carry baby everywhere they must go.

We did not follow this custom with our first baby born here.
We were "fresh off the boat", knew very little, and understood even less.
It caused us many troubles {that I'd rather not go into at the moment}.

And so with this little one, we decided to follow the custom.
While my mother did not come {and neither did any young relatives!}, my husband took a break from the preaching for the two weeks following baby's birth so that he could help.
He and my girls took care of the running of the household, and the buying and cooking of the food {even if it was something frozen ahead}, and the washing and hanging of the laundry, and the helping with the two-year-old, and all the things a mama usually does.
And baby and me?
We were given gifts.....

The gift of time to heal....
The gift of chances to figure things out at home...
The gift of a little extra sleep after long nights...
The gift of love ~ spending time with just us.

Plus, we were given special gifts from those who love us.....
Gifts of meals prepared with loving hands...
Gifts of food from the market and the farm {even live animals!}...
Gifts of dried flowers and the prayers that accompanied them...
Gifts of phone calls to check on and encourage us.

And now our forty days are almost up.
Sunday we will go to church for the first time and show baby to the world and the world to baby.
We will wear the colors of celebration and rejoice in this gift from our Father.
We will call her name and dedicate her to our God.
And we will be so very thankful for this quiet time we had before venturing out into this wide world together.


  1. I love it! You make it sound so simple and wonderful! Many many blessings to you and your sweet family! Love you ♥

  2. This is wonderful, and I have a feeling it's probably what God approves of. Lovely pictures, and it's great to see you looking so well. Baby is beautiful!

  3. Lovely.... Congratulations on the new baby

  4. What a wonderful tradition!!! You look wonderful and the baby is so precious!

  5. I must say, I think that custom is not a bad one! I wish we did that here, though maybe not quite for 40 days. :) I'm glad you have had time to heal and love and grow and connect. Love you, miss you and praying for you all!

  6. Gorgeous pictures. Many congratulations. Enjoy these strange and wonderful days!

  7. I love that Ghanaian tradition!!!! Soooooo glad that you and the baby were take care of so well.