Knowledge and Attitudes of Pregnant Mothers towards Maternal Dietary Practices During Pregnancy at the Etoug-Ebe Baptist Hospital Yaounde
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE. Poor dietary practices have been observed among the pregnant mothers receiving antenatal care services (ANC) at the Etoug-Ebe Baptist Hospital Yauonde (EBHY), despite routine nutrition education provided to these mothers and their apparent knowledge and approval of the importance of nutrition in pregnancy. We explored the nutritional knowledge and dietary practices of pregnant mothers receiving ANC at the EBHY in order to identify the correlation between their nutrition knowledge and dietary practices.
MATERIALS AND METHODS. A cross sectional descriptive survey was done on 100 randomly selected pregnant mothers. An interviewer-administered structured questionnaire was used to collect data. Statistical analysis was done using the SPSS computer package (Version 19.) Data comparison was done by Chi Square (Χ2) test with P< 0.05 considered statistically significant and a 95 % confidence level (CI) computed.
RESULTS. Sixty seven percent of mothers were married. Seventy one percent were literate, 51% had no stable jobs and 39% of their husbands were unemployed. Seventy one percent of respondents belonged to families with monthly income of less than 100,000FCFA and 56% of them had 5 or more household members. Ninety two percent of mothers had knowledge on good maternal nutrition before pregnancy. Seventy three percent of mothers cited the correct components of a balanced diet and their food sources (81%); however, 29% had aversion towards foods rich in protein and other important nutrients. Thirty eight percent of mothers knew that they should eat 3 main meals a day, but only 22% of them practiced it. Sixty five percent of mothers were aware that ‘calaba chalk’ (dry clay) was harmful and prohibited in pregnancy, yet 85% consumed it. Sixty eight percent did not have Knowledge about the risk of overfeeding in pregnancy. Sixty five percent had awareness that some foods items are potentially harmful in pregnancy but did not know what to avoid. Advanced maternal age, education level, parity and monthly family income were apparently positively associated with nutrition knowledge but there was no significant difference (p>0.05).Cultures and taboos exempted mothers from eating meat from wild animals, chicken, sea fish, sweet things, food partly eaten by animals, sugar cane, mud fish and ‘porrished’ cocoyam.
CONCLUSION. Pregnant mothers in Yaounde have satisfactory knowledge on adequate nutrition in pregnancy, but with significant gaps and difficulty in translating knowledge into practice. Maternal dietary habits are greatly influenced by hormonal changes in pregnancy, socio- economic status, food taboos and cultural beliefs; thus making it difficult to practice the nutrition advice they receive. Adequate multiple dietary supplementation should accompany nutrition advice as an integral part of ANC. Health policies that address cultural taboos should be instituted in favour of pregnancy nutrition.
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