Despite the fact that some traditional birth practices have reduced with western education and civilization, in parts of Nigeria some of the following harmful traditional practises still take place.
In the northern part of the country, one of the harmful practices a pregnant woman in labour may be subjected to is “Gishiri cut” or “Yankan Gishiri”.
A traditional practice that involves performing surgical cut on any aspect of the vaginal wall using razor blade or knife. Yes, razor blade. The commonest site is the anterior vaginal wall or less commonly posterior and lateral walls.
It is commonly done during the first delivery as a solution to obstructed labour. It is usually performed by traditional birth attendants, local herbalist or barber.
At the end, complications such as severe bleeding leading to shock, excruciating pain, vesicovaginal fistula, and spread of infections like HIV and hepatitis and painful intercourse may occur later.
Some other harmful practises is wankan jego which includes taking hot bath, lying on hot bed and taking large amount of ‘kunun kanwa’ [a lake salt rich in sodium. It’s still widely practised although with greater awareness of how hazardous such practises can have on their health the practise is diminishing.
The practise is very rampant in rural areas where literacy is low and firewood is relatively cheap and available. Immediately after the woman delivers, she is subjected to bathing with scalding hot water, morning and night.
After the bath, the new mother remains in a well-heated room with a fire or fire glowing underneath a specially constructed dried mud bed, which can retain heat for several hours. A special gruel or pap is prepared from guinea corn or millet with potash and pepper is given to the mother regularly as medicine to increase the quantity and quality of breast milk.
Meanwhile, potash has high sodium content but very little potassium and can cause hypertension and heart failure, but do they know this?
Other complications that may occur due to wankan jego include burns injury, severe hypertension, eclampsia and heart failure, and subsequent death.
Finally, these practices do not have any benefit on the women who practice them and in contrast have hazardous effects, and hence our society should abandon them for the better.
These are some of the harmful practises practised in the Northern part of Nigeria, do we have any such in the South and East? And are there such practises with new borns?