Taboos and misconceptions associated with pregnancy among rural women in Aligarh

Introduction: Food taboos are widely prevalent in India as well as in other countries.In spite of the presence of nutritional foods, pregnant women are forced to abstain from it as a part of their traditional food habits. The main reasons given by the mothers to avoid certain foods include fear of difficult labour as a result of big babies, fear of abortions and discoloration of the fetal body. Both beneficial as well as harmful customs have to be identified. Certain foods are considered as hot and some as cold. Hot foods are considered abortifacient and cold foods, orange, curd are not taken during pregnancy for the fear of having bad effect on the fetus. Material and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted during June –July in 2014 in the rural areas of registered villages of Rural Health Training Centre of the Department of Community Medicine, Aligarh. The study population comprised of married females above 18 years of age who had ever been pregnant. Informed consent was taken from each participant. A total of 100 females were selected for the study. Questionnaires were prepared for the study. Data was collected and analyzed using SPSS software. Results: Most of the females under study had misconceptions or taboos.94 females thought that eclipse may lead to congenital defects. So pregnant females should stay inside during eclipse.68 females avoid some kind of food during pregnancy.49 females thought that shape of the face, abdomen or built can predict sex of the baby. Out of 100 females under study,78 females avoid papaya,43 avoid fish,33 avoid badi food(which cause gas in stomach),27 avoid citrus foods,18 avoid groundnuts and 8 avoid tea or brinjal. The reasons of avoiding some specific foods are abortion, placental disruption, itching and seizures or difficult labour. Conclusion: Nutrition education and awareness generation among women is needed. Taboos/misconceptions could be removed by health education, especially by community health workers.

Uzma Eram, Tamanna, Z., Humaira, J.T.
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Int J Inf Res Rev
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