Accepted paper:

The role of a midwife in maternal care among rural Kenya Luo


Wakana Shiino (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)

Paper short abstract:

In Luo Kenya, the midwife assists women during pregnancy, delivery and care of newborns. She also deals with healing misfortunes from the violation of Luo's rules on sexuality. I will deal with how Luo people treat pregnant women and newborns, and give an account of a midwife's role and the changes overtime.

Paper long abstract:

In Kenya Luo rural society, like anywhere in Africa, some women used to give birth along the road and most pregnant women today continue to work until their delivery. In In the present day Luo land, women eat molded clay with the claim that, it is good for pregnancy. This molded clay is sold in the local markets and by the roadside. The midwife called Nyamurerwa gives specific advices to pregnant women. She also has a significant role in the village, because of her knowledge of various herbs to heal ailments. She starts her care with checking the state of the baby in the womb of a pregnant woman, then to deliver assistance and child mother care after that. It is interesting that Nyamurerwa has the role of the medicine man. There are a variety of prohibitions related to sexuality in Kenya Luo. The violation of sexuality like having sex outside marriage brings misfortune to the community like ailments and even death. Such misfortunes often affect infants who are the weakest in the family. It is Nyamurerwa's role to settle such misfortunes. In this paper, I will show ethnographic data about the birth, infant, about sexuality in Kenya Luo. And then I want to discuss the change in recent years on the role of the midwife.

panel P080
Cross-cultural perspectives on pregnancy and childbirth: encounters with unknowns at the natal/postnatal juncture