Investigating the influence of cultural practices on pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care in kavango regions, namibia in southern africa.

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Namibia University of Science and Technology


Before hospitals were established, childbirth in Kavango region took place in homes assisted by relatives or elders in the community. Babies were born breastfed and lived into adulthood to experience life. Cultural practices were applied to ensure safety, augment labour and save lives. Hospital are now accessible to many Namibians. The care rendered in maternity wards is based on evidence-based findings and WHO recommendations. Despite the existence of hospitals, there are still women that deliver at home and there are those that take labour cultural/traditional remedies and yet come to deliver at hospitals. This study explored in-depth the cultural practices regarding pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care in the Kavango regions. A qualitative case study design was used, and data was collected through in-depth one on one interviews with key participants. The target participants for this study are elders who are experts in cultural practices/traditional birth attendants, pregnant women, mothers with history of home deliveries and health care practitioners. Interview guide was developed to facilitate data collection. In addition, samples of traditional remedies in forms of roots used during childbirth were collected for laboratory analysis. The data obtained was analysed using content analysis. Findings of this study revealed that till today some women in the Kavango regions use traditional remedies during pregnancy, labour and postnatal period and practice treatment specific for newly born babies. The purpose for taking the concoctions ranges from safe childbirth, speeding up labour progress and wellness of babies. The effects are positively described by givers and users while health care practitioners regard negatively such practices based on the experiences they have dealing with women who have taken these remedies. Some of the negative effects highlighted by health care practitioners are placenta abruption, uterine rupture, postpartum haemorrhage, foetal distress and infertility highlighted as a late complication. The study also unearthed some practices during home delivery that are not safe. Evidence-based findings of this research enhance understanding of the practices and this shared with relevant stakeholders to improve maternal and child health care in Kavango regions. Recommendations are made based on the findings, this includes developing strategies to educate TBAs and pregnant women on the effects of using traditional remedies in labour and to advise them on safe practices. Further research on these remedies is needed to ascertain the strength and the effect it may possess.



Cultural practices pregnancy, Traditional Birth Attendant, Childbirth, Postpartum care, Kavango Region Namibia


Haikera. H. K. (2021). Investigating the influence of cultural practices on pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care in kavango regions, namibia in southern africa. (Unpublished master's thesis). Namibia University of Science and Technology, Windhoek.