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Lies from the Village

What if everything you thought you knew about life in Africa was wrong. Tammy and I prepared for the lack of clean water, no electricity and primitive plumbing awaiting us, but we had no idea to be prepared for the reality of life for the Africa women.

There is no reverence for women or birth. Women are abused at the clinics. Their husbands demand sex immediately after birth. There used to be midwives, but they have died out. There is no sharing about the female body between mother and daughter. Breastfeeding is basically abandoned by 2 months of age because the mother in law demands the woman work. Women are taught to clean out their vagina at least once a day because mucus is dirty. Children are left at home with older siblings (6 years old) while the parents go work.

The beautiful ideal of village life where family and women are honored and people work together is a lie – at least in this part of Africa.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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