On being pregnant in Africa…

Looking back to three years ago, I was packing my bags getting ready to move to Arusha Tanzania, East Africa with only a tiny picture of what that would actually look like. Sure, I planned to work with Neema House (now Neema Village). Sure, I expected to fall in love with a zillion little babies and toddlers. I expected, and planned, to live in the volunteer house. I set a loose time line of a year…

Fast forward to now. Almost three years since I set foot in Arusha. I am married. I am pregnant. And we are pursing an adoption! Can you say a huge change from a single, short term volunteer? Arusha is now my home. We are building our house. I am growing my roots (which happen to be intertwined!) and making new relationships, and speaking Swahili as if I’ve known it my whole life! I tried to think about myself 5 years ago, and where I had thought I’d be now and how my life would look and I can’t even believe it. This was NOT the plan, but I am happy and fulfilled and at peace. Sure, life is a challenge, but there is joy and there is peace and I know I am where I belong.

So getting back to being pregnant in Africa. I’ve tried various google searches of blogs of expats pregnant in Tanzania and have come up with basically nothing. So maybe someday someone will be in my shoes and happen across this! Granted, I was never pregnant in America, and so I can only compare my pregnancy to stories of friends and family. The first thing about pregnancy in Tanzania that really stands out is that no one talks about it! There are no celebrations like baby showers or sex reveal parties or maternity photo shoots. Rarely do people comment on your ever expanding midsection. Many women actually wear loose fitting clothing throughout their pregnancy to hide it even. Like I wrote about before in the harsh truth about pregnancy,  for many women they are uncertain of how to feel about their pregnancy. There can be many risks associated with being pregnant here in Africa.

I am nervous, as any first time mom would be I assume, but we are also so excited. We are excited for our ever-growing family. Specifics for Arusha, I have been attending the prenatal clinic at Total Care which is run by the head OBGYN from Selian Hospital, Dr. Sweke. Selian Lutheran Hospital, otherwise known as ALMC, is the leading hospital in Arusha. This is where I plan to deliver, Total Care clinic is just closer for my regular appointments. Selian is also where our pediatrician (for the Neema House children) Dr. Matthews, works. He’s an American doctor who has been here in Arusha for over 9 years. Due to how often Neema House uses Selian Hospital I know many of the doctors and nurses already.

One of the hardest things has probably been that I am totally disinterested in Tanzanian food. And I’ve had some miserable cravings for McDonalds and donuts. These sound petty, I’m sure, but hey a girl can dream. Things like public transport get more and more uncomfortable, with the crazy bumpy roads and tight, small spaces, with lots of interesting smells. There is also the thing I think all pregnant women think about and that is if everyone just thinks I’m getting fat or pregnant, haha.

There are things we will have to figure out afterwards, like getting the baby’s American passport and registering their birth abroad. And of course things like choosing a name! In Tanzania, all children are giving their father’s name as their middle name, regardless of sex of the child. We plan on giving our child a traditional English name, with consideration to Tanzanian pronunciation, and the child will also be given a Maasai name as per custom with my husband’s family. We have a few ideas, but we are not sharing the name, or any name ideas, until the child arrives.

We hope to be moved into our home before the baby comes. I will admit that has been a bit stressful. If you would like to sponsor one of our remaining items they are as follows:

Ceiling boards = Materials $175, work  $75
Flooring = Cement $70, work $75, tiles $90
Inside doors= 3 doors at $75 a piece
Glass for windows = $40
Primer/Paint = $120

Every little bit helps! You can donate directly through paypal (link in sidebar) or through my youcaring page.  You should be able to click on each photo here to see the caption/description.


3 thoughts on “On being pregnant in Africa…

  1. Hello,
    I landed on your page by searching ” Being pregnant in Africa”.
    My fiancé is from Benin, and we’re thinking of starting our family in a year…. in Benin.
    But many doctors would say there is a high risk of contracting malaria for pregnant women…
    Well, I guess, a pregnant woman is more susceptible to any disease. How was that side of your pregnancy?
    Usually, when people have been staying for very long in a country where anti-malaria pills should be taken, they stop taking is after a while…

    Those are my only worries.. I want my fiancé to be by my side during my whole pregnancy, and when I give birth. And we know it is not easy for an African to get a visa into our country.


    1. Hi, that’s why I wrote that post and so I am glad you found it! I do not take anti-malarials and haven’t ever since living here. I take normal precautions, bug spray if out in the evening, sleeping under a net, ect. Our region doesn’t have a very high prevalence of malaria, but it is here. But I believe if you even suspect you have come down with malaria when you are pregnant you should get tested and treated immediately, that is key. I know throughout my pregnancy whenever I had blood work done I was tested for malaria just to be sure. So really, all I can say is take slightly more than normal precautions. Women get pregnant every day in Africa, many with less access to proper health care, and yet babies are also born every day.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply! “Women get pregnant everyday in Africa…”, that’s what I was thinking too!

        I hope all is doing well for you and your little family!

        Bless you!

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