Socio-cultural practices related to mother and child health in Mewat, Haryana, India

Pooja Akshay, Sarita Anand


Background: Mothers and young children bear the burden of high morbidity and high mortality due to various socio-economic and cultural reasons complicated by illiteracy, unawareness, ignorance, and lack of access to health care services. Objective of this study was to discuss the perspectives of women from villages of Mewat, Haryana in India on mother and child health in the context of their socio-cultural norms, practices and assess their information needs related to pregnancy, child birth and child care.

Methods: The study design was qualitative and descriptive in nature. FGDs were conducted in four villages in Mewat district of Haryana with approximately 100 community women who were either pregnant or mothers of at least one child in 0-2 years. Through these FGDs, their responses were documented on prevalent socio-cultural norms and practices about antenatal care, institutional delivery, diet during pregnancy and post-partum, breastfeeding, immunization, family planning etc.

Results: Majority of women were unaware of the healthy behaviours and desired practices for optimal pregnancy outcomes due to their limited exposure and unavailability of authentic sources of information. They seemed to be unable to follow the right practices because of poor socio-economic status, patriarchal structure with resultant gender dynamics and religious norms, overwork and pre-conceived socio-cultural norms which impede their health seeking behaviour.

Conclusions: Knowledge on healthy practices during pregnancy, child birth and child care can promote health seeking behaviour amongst women along with optimal pregnancy outcomes. However, majority of women were unaware about such healthy practices. Hence, it is important to raise awareness amongst women to ensure mother and child health.


Mother and child health, Gender, Socio-cultural practices, Mewat, Public health, Family welfare

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