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Preserving the pot and water: A traditional concept of reproductive health in a Yoruba community, Nigeria



Within the background of the outcome of the 1994 Cairo Conference, this paper describes a traditional conceptualization of prenatal care in a Nigerian community and draws their implication for effective delivery of reproductive health services in the area. The data used were from qualitative interviews during 2 field trips to the community in 1988-1989 and 1991. The finding of the study highlights a local metaphor that likened the risks of pregnancy and child birth to a group of women that trekked to a local brook to fetch water with their earthen pots: some fell, broke their pots; some missed steps and spilt their water but kept their pots, and others returned without any mishap. The first group represented cases of maternal mortality; the second group were cases of miscarriage, still-births or infant deaths, and the third group represented successful outcomes for both pregnancy and the resultant baby. Various steps that were traditionally taken to ensure that the mother neither lost her pot nor spilled her water are described. The implications of these findings for policy and research are discussed in the paper.

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