I had a baby girl just about three months ago. In Ethiopia having a girl means spending the next 80 days lying in bed in a dark room. (Having a boy means seclusion for 40 days.) If I were to conform to such a tradition, it would mean only coming out from my room this week! People have seen me out and about with the baby for quite a while now. Some have asked how long I spent in bed – 1 month? 1 week? Uh, no.
I guess it’s meant to protect the baby from buda. I’ve even heard that some women who must take their baby out for the first doctor’s visit, which falls before the seclusion is finished, carry a knife under their clothes for protection. At the 40/80 day mark, the christening takes place. The baby is placed on enjera! And the name of the baby is revealed.
The time spent alone in the dark with a new baby must be extremely difficult. The focus is on rest and eating but it can’t be all that healthy! I know a lot of women gain more weight after having the baby.
I wonder how many women conform absolutely to this tradition or if it’s something that is fading.