Eating practices during pregnancy: perceptions of select Maasai women in Northern Tanzania

Type Journal Article - Global Health Research and Policy
Title Eating practices during pregnancy: perceptions of select Maasai women in Northern Tanzania
Volume 2
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Globally, pregnant women are challenged to meet sufficient and necessary dietary intake in order to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes. These challenges are amplified in traditional communities, such as the Maasai, where the historical and cultural practices may further curtail, or impact on this dyad’s potential success. The research is intended to enhance understanding of Maasai women’s pregnancy and nutrition traditions as well as their beliefs.

Interviews with 12 pregnant Maasai women, all originally from the (Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority NCAA) area and have spent most or all of their adult lives in the NCAA, sought to answer two research questions: how do these women describe their current dietary pattern and what do they believe is the role of nutrition during pregnancy.

Interpretive description methodology was used to reveal five themes: (1) Eating less food makes baby come easier, (2) Not producing food means more dependence, (3) Working hard harms my baby, (4) Knowing what is needed for a good pregnancy and (5) Preferring our traditional ways for pregnancy and birth.

There is an imperative to address nutrition throughout the perinatal period within the Maasai population and the women recognize how important nutrition is for them and their babies. Opportunities to incorporate cultural values and practices must be embedded in programmes/services to achieve success and sustainability. It is important for future prenatal programming with the Maasai in northern Tanzania and other vulnerable groups of pregnant women to build on the women’s knowledge of what leads to good pregnancy outcomes.

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