What Is Omugwo ?
I love when I get to write about my Nigerian culture, and Omugwo is a favorite. It’s a large part of me that I have learned to nurture as a millennial Nigerian-American. Although we call a different country home, the responsibility now falls on the children of immigrants to carry on family and cultural traditions. If we don’t practice them, then from where will our own children learn who they really are?
The Spa Treatment
Omugwo is the Igbo term for the traditional custom of postpartum care. The mother, mother in law or close female relative come to care for the new mother and baby or host them in their own home. They take on most of the household chores, caring for both mom and baby. This includes keeping the baby at night, allowing mom to catch up on sleep (🙏🏾 I really appreciated this one). Omugwo also comes with plenty of pepper soup and massages for mom and baby. It’s believed that the spicy pepper soup and hot water massages to mom’s belly help loosen and flush out blood clots from the mother’s body after delivery. It is frequent practice to bind ones tummy afterwards, I used my Bellefit corset. Baby gets what I would describe as a Swedish massage, believed to increase baby’s strength and flexibility. Omugwo is a great support system to help transition the young parents into their new life and deter postpartum depression and anxiety.
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The Beginning Of A New Chapter
Luckily, I had my mother and mother-in-law doing Omugwo after both of my son’s. It’s been priceless to watch my sons’ relationship with their grandparents grow and flourish. Not to mention being able to hand over the baby when sleep was needed. But Alas, we have reached the end of our Omugwo journey which means 1 thing for us: We are taking our talents to San Antonio!
Yup! No more long distance wifey. After more than a year of traveling for work and then living in different cities, Hubby and I get to call 1 house home again. I am so excited about our move! But don’t fret Houston, as always I will be back so frequently you will question if I actually moved. And if you read my Traveling with Toddlers post you can rest assured I have no issue loading the boys on a Megabus for a quick visit. I’m excited to get to know a new city, make new friends and make our new house a home.
The Ending Of The Omugwo Period
Traditionally, at the end of Omugwo, the mother and mother-in-law of the new parents are usually sent home with gifts as an expression of gratitude by the new parents. What better way to thank your mom or mother in law for helping you transition into this new life. Common thank you gifts may include things like wrapper/s (cloth), soap, food items, money, etc.
What do you think about the Omugwo tradition? Let me know below!