Beliefs and practices regarding nutrition during pregnancy and lactation in a rural area in Karnataka, India: a qualitative study

Nisha Catherin, Rock B, Roger V, Ankita C, Ashish G, Delwin P, Deeepthi Shanbhag, Goud BR


Background:Poor maternal nutrition adversely affects pregnancy and birth outcomes, particularly vulnerable are the rural women in a rural setting. A lactating mother’s nutritional requirement should meet needs of self and that of an infant. In most rural communities this situation is further complicated by food taboos, consequently either adding to or leading to additional negative balance of nutrients. Aims: To assess the food practices and beliefs during pregnancy and lactation among women residing in a rural area of Bangalore urban district.

Methods:Study was conducted during the period of January to March 2014 among the women residing under the Sarjapur PHC, Bangalore. Data was collected using Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and in Depth Interviews (IDIs). Thematic frame work approach was used for data analysis.

Results:A total of four FGDs and twelve IDIs were conducted. Good practices included consuming green leafy vegetables, rice, bread, jowar, meat, egg and fruits like apple and mosambi. The practices which may potentially harm the health included avoidance of food items like ragi, papaya, mango and guava during pregnancy and reduced water consumption during the post natal period. Beliefs like “casting an evil eye” or “colour of the baby” had an influence on the food given to antenatal mother.

Conclusions:The study found numerous food items which are nutritious and safe and available locally either restricted or denied thus making women (pregnant and lactating) and infants vulnerable. There is need for health education programs in rural areas regarding nutrition which will in turn improve the maternal and child health.



Qualitative study, Food practices, Maternal and child health, Food taboos

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