Food Prohibitions and Other Traditional Practices in Pregnancy: A Qualitative Study in Western Region of Ghana


Women all over the world are confronted with many difficult choices during pregnancy and child birth. Wrong choices often result in unfavorable outcomes for expectant mothers and their babies, a situation which is common in developing countries. Cultural practices, beliefs and taboos are often implicated in determining the care received by mothers during pregnancy and child birth which is an important determinant of maternal mortality. This study explored the traditional practices associated with pregnancy and childbirth in Shama District of the Western Region, Ghana. A qualitative study consisting of six focus group discussions of between eight and ten participants per group and eight in-depth interviews were held over a period of one month. The purpose was to explore local foods that are forbidden for pregnant women and why, herbal medicine use during pregnancy and child birth and reasons for choosing home or hospital delivery. The findings show that pregnant women are forbidden from taking nutritious foods such as snails, ripe plantain, okra and many others for fear of complications during pregnancy and child birth. Herbal medicines are frequently used by pregnant women and traditional birth attendants to induce labour, augment and control bleeding during labour. Traditional beliefs and practices as well as negative attitude of health workers are found to reduce health utilization by pregnant women. Health education concerning traditional practices that are detrimental to the health of pregnant women should be emphasized during ANC visits.

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Otoo, P. , Habib, H. and Ankomah, A. (2015) Food Prohibitions and Other Traditional Practices in Pregnancy: A Qualitative Study in Western Region of Ghana. Advances in Reproductive Sciences, 3, 41-49. doi: 10.4236/arsci.2015.33005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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