Nursing & Care

Abstract

Traditional Reproductive Health Practices among Women in South-South Nigeria

Mildred E. John, Ekpoanwan E. Esienumoh, Alberta D. Nsemo, Josephine Yagba.

Despite the development of orthodox health services in Nigeria, several traditional reproductive health practices for women still thrive in many indigenous populations. These practices relate to delayed menarche, delay in child bearing/infertility, during pregnancy and lactation. Mixed method design (descriptive and focused ethnographic) was utilized to explore and elicit traditional reproductive health practices for women of childbearing age, and perceptions about their use. Two hundred and fifty seven (257) women of child bearing age were purposively selected from four randomly selected communities in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State and Akpabuyo local government area of Cross River State in South-South region of Nigeria. Results revealed that several traditional reproductive health practices were engaged in by women for several reasons for issues relating to menarche, pregnancy, childbirth, and infertility. Common practices include the use of enchanted amulets, traditional therapeutic massage, "womb setting", "womb massage", "womb locking", use of herbs (oral, enema), "sweat bath"/"steam bath" etc. One very popular practice was the utilization of the popular traditional midwives ("mamalettes" or "abia umaan"), who participants say are "experts at women matters", and "experts at womb setting and womb massage". Some of the traditional practices have scientific explanations and are beneficial while others may be harmful and have implications for community health education and reproductive health policy. However the participants stated that the benefits of the traditional reproductive health practices outweigh the harmful effects.