Wankan Jego: Postpartum Hot Water Bath


Wankan Jego is a postpartum hot bath ritual for mothers of newborns in Nigeria and some parts of Africa. Wankan Jego, or omugwo hot water massage as you may know it, is one of the core practices during omugwo besides the newborn massage. 


From Day 1 of postpartum to Day 21, the mother of the newborn baths with hot water and is often massaged by older female relatives or under their supervision with boiling water.


Sometimes, it ranges between 40 to 120 days, depending if the mother is a first-time mother or an experienced mother. 


The name Wankan Jego is from northern Nigeria, but the act is practised across all parts of the country. It is part of Omugwo or Ojojo omo that involves massaging the newborn's mother.


Older women keep this practice alive, and the new mom's parents often reinforce its adherence. The newborn mom sits over a sitz bath bowl or often a bucket.


This bucket contains boiling water filled to about ⅓. Her abdomen, thighs, buttocks, and back are massaged with a towel dampened with hot water over 100°C. 


This practice is believed across Africa to be beneficial to newborn moms. Many moms swear by it. 


There are many other benefits women claim they get from the wankan Jego practice. These include:


  • It helped them regain strength. 


  • It helped correct chloasma (chloasma is the temporary hormonal change in pregnancy that causes a woman's skin to be darker and dull).


  • It helped shrink their bulging belly.


  • It soothed postpartum cramps.


  • It helped soothe anal fissures, episiotomy, hemorrhoids, and sore vulva. 


Is Wakan Jego Safe For You? 


As a new mom, It can be difficult to challenge or ignore the counsel of more than a thousand women over several generations. Especially in a case like this where there are reviews from personal experiences.


But research has linked the Wakan Jego practice to health hazards.


Wankan Jego, in many cases, can lead to third-degree burns, dizziness, shortness of breath, and even cardiomegaly. These risks are still higher in women that had hypertensive disorders while pregnant. If you have any underlying conditions like hypertension, or diabetes, coupled with your pregnancy, wakan jego is not a safe option for you. Always consult your doctor before indulging in such practice.



It might be difficult to stop, especially with all the possible benefits and the fact that this is an age-long practice. But there are safer alternatives.


Bulging belly: Besides using a Spanx after delivery to hold and reduce the size of your belly, breastfeeding is a natural remedy.


Your uterus returns to its average non-pregnant size six weeks after delivery.


Vagina Healing: A sitz bath will help you heal any tear you might have gotten while pushing.


The water should be warm, unlike the case of wankan Jego, where it is usually scorching hot.


Sitting over this sitz bath of warm water will help you expel blood clots from your uterus, heal tears in your vagina or perineum, and even soothe haemorrhoids. 


Pelvic exercises: They help quicken the process of your vagina walls returning to their standard size and form. 


Postpartum cramps: Many women experience the worst after delivery as their uterus contracts back to normal. But a heating pad can help. Use a heating pad like you would for period cramps.


You can take hot tea too. This will help reduce the pain. And if nothing else works, take pain medications approved by your doctor. 


In conclusion, if you must have the wankan jego ritual:


  1. Confirm with your doctor that you are not hypertensive or have any other conditions that exposure to heat can aggravate. 


  1. Use warm water instead of scorching hot water. 


Here are some postpartum care tips for new moms in general. 

  • Take pain medications 30-40 minutes before breastfeeding if you experience extreme abdominal pain while breastfeeding. 
  • Sit with your feet up.
  • Lie down as much as you can and take your time getting active soon. This can slow your healing process and even cause dizziness. 
  • If you got stitches, do not try tugging at them, they will melt on their own. 
  • Apply ice packs or cold gels for 20 minutes to soothe haemorrhoids. 
  • Take stool softeners as soon as you have your baby.
  • Avoid constipation and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables rich in fiber.
  • Adhere to the recommended six weeks of postpartum sex abstinence. 


Did we leave any tips out? Let's get your comments below. Do you still perform omugwo or wakan jego? What are your thoughts? 

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