Knowledge and attitudes towards maternal health

A female focus group discussion on maternal health, Bauchi, 2010

During the first evidence-gathering cycle on maternal health in 2009, field teams collected information on knowledge and attitudes towards maternal health.

Across both Bauchi and Cross River state, half of people, men and women, could not correctly identify danger signs during pregnancy and childbirth. In Bauchi, about one in every three people told us that their main source of information on pregnancy and childbirth is through health workers. In Cross River, almost 6 in every 10 people said that they have access to this information through health workers.

The study found that about half of all Bauchi women did not speak about pregnancy primarily with their husbands and almost every woman felt that she was not involved in decisions regarding pregnancy and childbirth. In Cross River state, about 25% routinely discuss pregnancy and childbirth primarily with their husbands. About three in every four also felt that they were involved in decisions related to pregnancy and childbirth.

The study asked people if they thought that pregnant women should reduce their heavy workload. Across both states, about 6 in every 10 people, men and women, did not think that pregnant women should reduce their heavy workload.

In Bauchi, more than 80% of pregnant women continued to do heavy work even in their last trimester. In Cross River, the study found that almost half of pregnant women continued with their heavy workload.

Focus group discussions on heavy work

Focus groups discussed what constitutes heavy workload for women. People identified many household activities, including washing clothes for hours, pounding 5-10 measures of grains, trekking long distances for firewood and water. In Cross River state, many women’s groups said that frying garri and trekking to the market with heavy loads of merchandise constitutes a heavy workload. Interestingly, many groups believed that this work is beneficial for pregnant women and helps them deliver easily. Women’s groups also felt that if they reduced their heavy workload during pregnancy, people will label them as being lazy.

The quotes below come from female focus group discussions on heavy work during pregnancy in both Bauchi and Cross River states:

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