Spiritual and Religious Aspects of Pregnancy and Birth in Nigeria
Keywords:spiritual beliefs, religious beliefs, pregnancy and birth, Igbo, Nigeria
Nigeria is both a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, with plural health systems – unorthodox (traditional and faith-based) and orthodox (formal or modern) healthcare. Religious, spiritual and cultural/traditional beliefs about health and wellbeing remain central in everyday pregnancy and childbirth discourses in many lessincome countries including Nigeria. This qualitative hermeneutic study explored the spiritual and religious aspects of pregnancy and birth from the perspective of Igbo-Nigerian women. A purposive sample of 25 women took part in an individual faceto- face audio-recorded interview. Data were analysed using Gadamerian hermeneutic principles to unpack the meaning of religious and spiritual practices of pregnancy and birthing as articulated by women. The three themes that emerged are: “reliance on the supremacy of God”, “belief in supernatural forces”, and “keeping it secret” with most emphasis on the first theme. Pregnancy and birth are physiological and psychosocial events which have deep-seated spiritual connections. An understanding of the spiritual and religious aspects of women’s need during pregnancy and birthing becomes crucial.
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