Expat Diaries: Pregnant in Tanzania

Upon moving to Tanzania, I was told NEVER to ask a woman if she is pregnant- huge cultural taboo. Unlike the United States, this custom wasn’t invented for vanity reasons. In Tanzania, 83,000 newborns die each year. Each year, 13,000 women die during childbirth. Pregnancy complications account for 20% of all deaths of women of childbearing age. Even if both the mother and baby survive, 1 in 9 Tanzanian children will die before the age of 5. If a woman in Tanzania announces she’s pregnant, she is often met with the response, “Pole Sana,” which means, “I’m sorry for you.”

Stop me before I paint some horrible picture of pregnancy and babies in Tanzania. It’s not like pregnant women hide in fear and worry. They’re out and about- laughing, smiling, and likely chasing around other small kiddos as well.

It might be a bit different here in the city than in rural communities. Here we have doctors, hosptials, etc. They might not be the greatest/most sanitary in the world, but they’re here.

looks legit… (Not where I go, btw.)

I was shocked when my doctor sent me for an ultrasound at 8 weeks like it was no big deal. Firstly, when I first arrived here (and wanted to get pregnant then but was told to wait) I honestly didn’t think Tanzania even had things like ultrasound machines. It wasn’t until I made friends with a pregnant girl who was like, um, yeah they have everything here (except a birthing facility up to United States standards). Secondly, they wouldn’t even give me an ultrasound at 8 weeks in the United States. When I asked when I’d have my first ultrasound there the nurse practically gave me a scolding with her eyes. 

So I might even be receiving more care here than I did in the United States with my first pregnancy.
Really, the hardest thing about being pregnant here for is not being able to fulfill my cravings for a juicy steak or Volcano Rice from the Thai restaurant down the street from our place back in Hawaii. I don’t have cheesy Doritos or Whataburger fries. But that’s probably a good thing.

And I’m lucky.
But my heart aches for all the women here that don’t have prenatal care or a safe place to give birth should complications arise.
I can’t imagine having to be in fear for my life (or the life of my baby) just because I’m pregnant.
It’s just another eyeopener during my life abroad, I guess.

Read other expats’ stories in this link-up here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *