If you live in Nigeria or are of Nigerian descent then you know that it is common practice for people to keep their pregnancies top secret. Pregnancy photo shoots are often released on social media to announce the arrival of the new born. It’s almost as if there is some unwritten rule to hide the pregnancy from as many people as possible to ensure a safe delivery. Even family members help to guard the secret, I remember a friend whose mother-in-law instructed her to stop visiting her residence as soon as her bump started to show. Fathers too are not excluded; my colleague (who I sat next to in the office) had a baby just a few weeks before I put to bed. He had teased me and encouraged me all though the pregnancy and never for a second mentioned that his wife was also expecting.
Some people even go as far as avoiding social functions completely, once their bump becomes obvious. I know someone who out rightly denied being pregnant when asked by a close friend who was in fact a member of her bridal party. Well, so much for friendship, Nigerian evil spirits have no chill o…. I remember when I was pregnant, one day I gave a fellow pregnant colleague a lift and we got engrossed talking about our different pregnancy symptoms and cravings, during the discussion I mentioned that I was 30 weeks gone even though my tummy appeared small, I then went on to ask her how far gone she was and she totally avoided the question. I was shocked to say the least. Heaven forbid you ask a Nigerian woman, when her expected delivery date is or what sex of child she is having. You just might be branded the queen of bump witches.
Sometimes the secrecy is born out of the fear of losing the pregnancy, and then having to tell people (including mere acquaintances that found out from social media) when they ask about the baby. At least the fewer people see the bump, the fewer people will ask about the baby. I’m not a superstitious person so I never really kept my pregnancy a secret but I didn’t exactly publicize it either. If anything, I was obsessed with gathering information on how to make the best of it, I was always asking my experienced mother friends for advice and suggestions. I never avoided social functions. In fact, in my second trimester I was always craving party jollof rice. I would do almost anything just to have a plate every weekend. I never really uploaded pictures of my bump on social media, but I happened to be one of those people whose pregnancy showed from the face. I put on a lot of weight and my nose got really big so most people could guess I was pregnant merely by seeing pictures of my face, and I never denied it when asked. I never wore a safety pin for protection either, but that practice is a story for another day. Anyway, thank God, my not keeping the pregnancy a secret did not bring “the bump witches” my way.
Primarily, I think the practice of hiding pregnancies is born out of our superstitious and overly religious culture. In my opinion being open about your pregnancy could empower you to be better informed towards having a safe delivery, you never know what information or experience someone might share with you that just might save you or your babies life. However, I don’t judge those who choose to hide their pregnancy. My philosophy is live and let live. The thing with pregnancy is everyone experiences it differently. For some it’s a walk in the park, while for others it’s 9 months of bed rest. Sometimes the actual experience may just throw out your initial plans.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section. Did you keep your bump a secret and why did you choose to? Did you share the exciting news with friends? If you are an intending mother, do you think you will be open about it?