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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 86-90

Food taboos in pregnancy and early lactation among women living in a rural area of West Bengal

1 Department of Community Medicine, COM and JNM Hospital, Kalyani, Nadia, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Medicine, COM and JNM Hospital, Kalyani, Nadia, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sreetama Chakrabarti
Jyotismriti, Laldighir Dhar (West), Bagbazar, Chandannagar, Hooghly, West Bengal - 712136
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_53_17

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Introduction: Pregnancy and lactation require greater need for nutrition for a mother but the situation becomes more complicated when a pregnant or a lactating woman follows or forced to undergo certain dietary restriction for the benefits of her baby. This study was conducted to know about the food taboos followed during pregnancy and early part of lactation by the women residing in a rural area. Methods: The study was conducted at different subcenters of Amdanga Community Development Block of North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal. The study was descriptive, observational with cross-sectional design, and was done through mixing of both quantitative and qualitative methods. Total four focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted and 44 pregnant women and lactating mothers participated in those discussions. Notes and audio recording from FGDs were transcribed to written English language, analyzed, and principal domains were extracted. Result: Taboos were present regarding consumption of various fruits (banana, papaya, jackfruit, coconut), vegetables (brinjal, leafy vegetables), meat, fish, and eggs during pregnancy. These were followed mainly to prevent miscarriage, promote easy delivery, and prevent fetal malformations. Taboos in the lactation included avoidance of small fish, foods with multiple seeds, other “cold” foods, and fluid restriction in some areas. The taboos were followed spontaneously as the inhibitions were imposed only for a definite period. Conclusion: Though diminished, food taboos are still prevalent in the rural areas of West Bengal. Nutrition education in pregnancy and lactation may be strengthened in those areas.

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