Pregnant in Uganda!


I'm now 12 weeks pregnant. Had an amazing first trimester to be truly jealous of (I can count the nausea on 1 hand), my biggest symptom was the insane amounts of sleep. We're super excited to be growing our family and I'm looking forward to actually seeing a real bump instead of bloat (another common symptom of mine). 😉

So we've been sharing that we are pregnant with several different groups of people. Family and friends over video chats, westerners that live in Uganda with us, and our local Ugandan friends. And though, we are really excited about the news, we have gotten such an unexpected reaction from our Ugandan friends that I wanted to share.

When we shared our news with our Ugandan friends, we expected a similar reaction as our American friends (lots of excitement, congratulating, etc.). However, the conversations haven't gone like that. It's usually something like:

  • Me: "So we want to tell you our big news. I'm pregnant!"
  • Ugandan friend: "Oh, that's so nice. Very good. I pray God will bless you with 2." **Imagine this being said with a face that is similar to hearing that I bought a replacement pot to cook in and you'll be about there. 
  • Me: "Oh, I have already done a scan. I am not having twins."
  • Ugandan friend: "The Lord can still give you twins. They are a double blessing. And I will pray that you have 5 more."
  • Me: "Ummm, thanks."

So, yea, they're super chill about pregnancy. I don't know if its cause its simply expected out of women in their culture or since I've been married so long it's been their expectation for me to get pregnant, but it is the most calm reaction especially compared to our American friends.

Other interesting Acholi cultural facts about being pregnant: 

  1. No one talks about it! Even if you are 7 months pregnant and huge NO ONE is going to comment, even some of your good friends. If you tell them that's you're choice, but women here rarely do. Possibly a best friend will ask you about your growing belly and then advise you if it's your first, but that's about it for comments. No one touches your tummy, asks you what you're going to name the baby, when you're due, etc.
  2. You cannot say "We're Pregnant". I felt like it was fairly normal in the States to announce "we're pregnant" as an inclusive we are in this experience together statement. So, we tried "we're pregnant" with some local friends…. it was met with confusion. What? So Roger's pregnant too?!? Why would you say that we are pregnant, Colleen is growing the baby!  We stopped announcing "we're pregnant" to reduce jokes, confusion and potential bizarre rumors of how Americans have babies…sigh
  3. I have a stomach. When learning how to tell people I was pregnant I found out that you say "Iya tye" literally translates to "I have a stomach".
  4. Doctor's advice is to eat anything you want! So basically the opposite of the American long dangerous food lists for pregnant women. Mostly due to the diet around here consisting heavily of beans, peanuts, rice and posho (a cornstarch and water mix), since the local diet is so un-diversified they do not tell you to avoid anything since any diversity is a good idea.
  5. Do eat greens. So, this would seem obvious to most of us you want to have fruits and veggies in your diet on a regular basis anyways. The interesting thing about local dishes is that they're extremely low in vegetables. Doctor's often advice pregnant women here to START eating greens, which usually end up being cooked with a peanut butter sauce heavy in oils and light on the greens. Once I suggested that we make 2 types of side dishes with greens in them for a meal…. apparently it was blasphemy for me to suggest it!
  6. Avocados make the baby fat. Doctor's here are starting to recommend that pregnant women eat avocados more regularly, culturally women still shy away from them fearing that they will have to push out something bigger than the typical 6 pounder (Birth weights being typically low from poor diet).
  7. They all have to stop their heavy lifting program. Most Acholi to not have running water and their normal day to day consists of going to the well to fetch 1-3 jerrycans of water (about 45lbs each). In Acholi culture it is the women who fetch the water or very young boys, it is most definitely NOT a man's job. So Doctor's recommend that the women stop getting water, they either have an outstanding husband willing to get the water for the home or they pay a neighbor or someone to help them.

So that's all I've noticed so far. I'll be sure to post as I see more differences. I'm almost positive that there are some how to raise a newborn in Uganda posts in my future. 🙂


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