Initiation of Traditional Birth Attendants and Traditional Religious Practices Performed during Pregnancy and Childbirth among the Baganda in Uganda

  • Hassan Tugume Lubowa


Since time immemorial, traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in Buganda have offered pre- and post-natal services. Although it is anticipated that women in modern societies give birth in hospitals and clinics, some women still utilize the services of TBAs. The study aimed at an in-depth understanding of the initiation of TBAs and traditional religious practices employed during pregnancy and childbirth in Buganda. Thirty-two in-depth using individual interviews were conducted with a semi-structured interview guide; questionnaires were given to respondents purposely selected. Relevant literature was reviewed. Content analysis was thematically employed to generate findings. The findings revealed that TBAs were initiated through apprenticeship from family members who were TBAs and other non-family TBAs as well as through dreams and revelations. They practiced using both spiritual and physical methods and their work was founded on spiritual directions, use of spiritual artifacts, herbs and physical examination. TBAs delay the process of child birth and disposal of the placenta associating with beliefs which indicate that when not properly disposed, it will have adverse consequences on the child and family. Although TBAs like maternal health professionals operate to improve maternal health care, some religious practices and beliefs may pose threats to the mothers. Nonetheless, with appropriate initiation and training, they can become more useful.Key words: birth attendant, initiation, umbilical-cord, herbs, placenta