6 Malawian Traditions For Moms After Giving Birth

traditions after giving birth

Birth, and birthing, this is something that every pregnant woman thinks of. The minute one finds out that they are pregnant, they start thinking of the birth process. It is also this time when you get so much information, your head feels like it will burst.

If you are a Malawian mom, then you must have heard of some of the things that you have to do. In my case, I had women from the church come over at our house to give me advise. During the time, hearing these women speak of intimate things made me choke on my water. These were women close to my grandmum’s age, but still, such advise was needed.

Another thing I realized after giving birth was that, I did not want to stray from our tradition. I became paranoid that if something was to happen, I would be blamed for not following their advise. Although I received a bit of criticism from my friends, I figured it was all necessary.

It is the second day of the Afrobloggers 2022 Winter ABC Challenge, where we are still sharing some stories of home. I figured sharing these 6 Malawian traditions for moms was important. So, let us get on with it.

6 Traditions For Malawian Moms To Follow After Giving Birth

A lot of these traditions are slowly being washed away, this is something our grandmothers worry about. And for some that are in the urban areas, they are reluctant to share that they follow them because of the fear of being judged. Those that do not understand these traditions quickly dismiss them to be so linked to witchcraft.

However, we do not know what our own moms did. Also, you need to realise that most of these things will never be told to you by your parent, it is the responsibility of your aunts or any elderly women in your family. If those do not work, church women stand in as advisers.

These traditions after birth are:

unexpected c-section, One-month-old baby update of Evan, birth

1. Visitation

This is so stressed on. Once a child is born, it is not right to have people visit it during the first two weeks. This is due to many reasons, but one that is so highlighted is that, a child should only meet people after their belly button peg falls off.

Now, you ought to understand, in Malawi we do believe in the existence of witchcraft. I’ll also have to point out that our constitution does not, but our history is so laced with witchcraft that it is hard to ignore it.

The reason they do not like babies being visited by extended family or friends before the peg falls off is because it is known that other people use that skin for rituals. In Malawi, we normally mark this as ‘CHIKUTA’.

Once the peg falls off, as parents, you either have to burn it or throw it where it cannot be found. After, you can take your baby out of the house and have visitors over.

Hopefully, I have explained this in the most simple form.

However, this is very beneficial health wise. A newborn still has an immune system that is not fully developed yet. Exposing them to different people in unhealthy, making this rule good.

2. Position of Button Fall

Another thing that is crucial is where the belly button peg falls.

If you do not have kids, but have been around a new born, you might have noticed that new borns lay on their back. For Malawian moms, this is to make sure the peg does not fall on the sides.

The advise is that the peg has to fall on the middle of the legs to make sure the baby is not barren when they are older. The belief is that when the peg falls on either side of the baby, he or she will never be able to have children.

That is why cotton nappies are recommended than diapers. Cotton nappies keep the peg in place, decreasing the risk of it falling on either side.

3. Napkins for Weight

Before giving birth, one might wear panty liners. After giving birth, you experience heavy bleeding. Once that is done, it is dry season for a while. During that period, others feel comfortable wearing panty liners again. This is frowned upon in Malawi.

The tradition is to use cloth napkins as panty liners. I was asked to cut into pieces a cloth and wear it. This helps with the baby’s weight being more grounded.

Let me explain clearly by giving an example…

Ever met a child who looks plump but once carried, feels light? This is what wearing these napkins help with. They make the baby weight as he/ she looks.

They are also used as a form of protection for your child. I am still unsure how, but it is what I was told.

Catch up with my #WinterABC2022 posts, read the first post

Birth, and birthing, this is something that every pregnant woman thinks of. The minute one finds out that they are pregnant, they start thinking of the birth process. It is also this time when you get so much information, your head feels like it will burst. If you are a Malawian mom, then you must […]


cont: Traditions after Birth

4. Head shaping roots

I know what you are thinking, what the hell is that. To be quite frank, I do not know the tree roots they use either.

However, when Evan was born, my grandma asked that I visit the village. There, she gave me a blakc powder mixed with sugar grains. She asked that I put a pinch on his tongue until all the powder was finished.

Later on, she explained that the powder is meant to help with the baby’s head shape. And overall, it helps with the baby’s migraines. She gave me two crucial examples of immediate family.

I wish I had the right words to explain how their heads are shaped, but it is not in a good way.

Another advise was to always check if he had bulging veins on his head. If yes, it was the indicator that he had a migraine and needed to be given the powder.

The sugar made the baby love the powder.

5. Special cloth for Tummies after Birth

When I shared with my aunt my plan to wear a belt to help with the pregnancy tummy, she advised me not to. During the time, her reasoning was that a stiff cloth would do a better job.

When I was planning this post, I asked my mum why that was so and she clarified. When buying chitenjes for birthing, you are asked to keep one aside. It should never be washed to contain the starch in it.

Tying that cloth is more effect for the tummy unlike a waist trainer or belt because it stays in place.

6. Sex Connection

Chances are high that if any kids were reading this, they have closed it off. Now, the most weird tradition to follow after giving birth.

It is advised that if you ever want to have sex with your partner while still weaning the baby, you must follow this:

The mom should hold the baby close to her tummy, while the dad penetrates from behind. This, apparently, should be done almost three times. According to them, this builds the connection between father and child.

My issue with this is having sex in front of your child. I know the baby would forget, but my subconcious would carry the memory till my last breath.

These are traditions that are phasing out. But if you have ever been curious about these, ask the elderly in your family and you will enjoy the conversation.

Do you know more traditions? Share them in the comment section below.

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  1. I recognise some of these as well as variations of them from when I gave birth, our traditions are more similar than they are different!

  2. The napkin cloth thing… One lady told me to use the same napkin to press on my daughter legs to avoid rickets. Smh

  3. Point number 6 needs to be extracted with utmost care is what I heard because the things you do whilst having sex can’t be shown in front of the child! So should be a silent type of no movement on the mother’s side!

    Never have tried it before so I wouldn’t know of the accuracy

  4. These are so similar to what happen in Zimbabwe and the most interesting bit is that its the grandmothers who are custodians of this knowledge… oh then again maybe because for us midwives are generally referred to as mbuya which basically means grandmother.
    But of course when your child has a childthat automatically makes you a grandmother there’s nothing mystic about that right hmmm

  5. In my family visitations are only allowed after a month. My grandmother said it is done to make sure that both the newborn and mother have healed and adjusted.

  6. Literally read with my eyes popping. I mean visit for the baby in the first weeks looks like that is the most time they receive visitors in this time.

    Been interesting to learn. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Wow, I didn’t know any of this at all. If I ever have kids this will be great content for banter with the madam. Great piece.

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