The interaction between a pregnant mother and her developing baby are numerous and varied ranging from the food she eats to the kicks of the baby that she feels. What the developing baby feeds on goes a long way in determining its state of health at birth. For a pregnant mother to eat healthfully, she needs to have adequate knowledge of the different component of food. But if the knowledge is not put in practice, it becomes meaningless.
The major objective of this study therefore was to examine the nutritional knowledge and practice of the pregnant women in Onitsha North and South Local Government Areas of Anambra State. Because of the large number involved, and the fact that most of the hospital had no maternity, only two hundred and fifty expectant mothers were used. Eight specific objectives and corresponding research questions and six hypotheses were stated and used for the study.
The instrument for data collection was a questionnaire which had three sections. The personal data of the respondents, fourteen questions each on nutritional knowledge and practice respectively. The questionnaire responses on knowledge were two-point scale of Yes and No while that of practices were in three-point scale of “Practice Always”. “Do not practice” and “Practice Rarely”. Data were analyzed using correlation analysis, percentage, ANOVA and multiple t-test of paired comparison. The results showed that all the hypothesis of the study were rejected. The mean (x) percentage of the subjects who indicated knowledge of what constituted good nutrition was greater than those who indicated regular practice. Some correlation existed between the subject’s knowledge of nutrition and their nutritional practice. Education, age and parity influenced their knowledge and practices of nutrition. Based on these results some recommendations were made such as:- (a) Health educators and nutritionists should be invited to give health talks to pregnant women during antenatal clinic. (b) The age, educational level
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nutritional knowledge has been proven to play a very vital role in adopting optimal nutrition practices in the health of every expectant mother.As a matter of fact, health and nutritional status of the population of a nation is an important indicator of development of the country. A nutrition survey carried out in India observed that the nutritional status of pregnant and lactating and infants is not satisfactory. This is probably due to lack of basic knowledge regarding proper nutrition and wrong customs prevalent in the community besides non availability and low intake of food.In Nigeria, there are some adverse socio-cultural and economical factors that produced negative consequences and reduce women’s access to effective ante-natal services needed to reduce maternal morbidity andmortality. The most important of these are the low socioeconomic status of women that deny them access to appreciable decision-making with regard to their reproductive functions, high level of female illiteracy which is a leading cause of poor health seeking behaviour for maternity services among Nigerian women and high rate of poverty that predominantly affects women leading to inadequate dietary intakes, high rate of pregnancy complications and women’s reduced access to evidence based maternity services ( Ogunjuyibe, 2000).Maternal nutrition before and during pregnancy is an important determinant of birth weight. High rate of Low Birth Weight (LBW) in developing countries has been attributed to poor maternal nutrition (Ogunjuyigbe et al., 2008) Pregnancy is a time of tremendous physiological change that demands healthy dietary lifestyle choices. Growing foetus draws a lot of energy and nutrients from the mother to enhance physical and psychological development (Ojo and Briggs, 2010). In developing countries like Nigeria, it is essential to states that low birth weight stems primarily from the mother’s poor health and nutrition, and inadequate nutrition during pregnancy accounts for a large proportion of growth retardation (Hareyan, 2005). Malnutrition has been recognized as one of the underlying factor for maternal death during the process of procreation. The causes of malnutrition are multidimensional and multi-factorial with poverty, food inadequacy and maternal illiteracy being the main culprit of the menace in developing countries. The health of the mother and her nutritional status can influence the health and survival of the child because of the biological links that exist between her and her child during pregnancy and lactation (Ogunjuyigbe et al., 2008).