In realizing the tremendous amount of stress and fatigue which pregnant women are subject throughout the period before and after childbirth, the Igbo cleverly developed the practice of 'ile omugwo' as a form of prenatal and postnatal care for pregnant women. In the late stages of a woman's pregnancy, typically when her condition has severely reduced her abilities to manage her home comfortably, her mother (the child's grandmother) would move into her domicile for a short while.
During this time period, the woman's mother would assume her role and would complete domestic duties in her place, ensuring that her daughter enjoys enough rest and well-cooked meals. After the child has been born, the grandmother would continue to complete household duties in addition to bathing and attending to the needs of the child. As the mother recovers from the rigors of childbirth, she is fed a diet consisting mostly of herbal roots, fish, meat, hot soups, and yam, all of which are believed would quickly restore her well-being and strength. As soon as the child's mother regains enough strength to carry on her normal routine, the omugwo ends and the child's grandmother returns to her home with gifts of fowl, cloth, plantains, and yams.