Purpose: This paper presents the findings of a recent study that examined how the health practices of immigrant women affect their food choices and practices during the perinatal period. The study aimed to elicit understanding of ethno-cultural food choices and practices and to develop and evaluate cultural competency of maternity care.
Methodology. A focused ethnography informed by the theoretical lens of postcolonial theory guided the research process. Postcolonial theory helped to explicate how the intersectionality of ethnicity, gender, social class, and culture shapes immigrant women’s beliefs and practices related to food choices and health practices in the perinatal period. The research was implemented in four phases comprising of photovoice, interviews, KT tool creations and focus groups to evaluate tool implementation and practices. Study participants comprise of six ethno-cultural groups in this study; Sudanese, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, African, and Caribbean, however, this paper will focus on the African and Caribbean women data set. Photo-assisted interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded. Thematic analysis was completed guided by Roper and Shapira’s analytical framework for ethnographic data, to identify key patterns and themes. Atlas ti facilitated data management and storage. Member-checks
Results: The paper will discuss two major themes: a). Personal determinants of food choices and practices including, general health beliefs and practices, knowledge and beliefs about foods, and cravings and aversions; b). Other determinants of perinatal food choices and health practices including the role of others in supporting and enforcing health beliefs and practices, socio-economic factors, temperature and religion.
Implication: The paper will conclude with key recommendations for policy decisions including the need for national food guide with due consideration of ethno-cultural foods. It will also discuss ways of improving health care providers’ access to study findings such as education tools for health care the health professional, public health, and obstetrical communities using multiple formats and media.