Influence of Cultural and Religious Practices on the Management of Pregnancy at Mbombela Municipality, South Africa: An Explorative Study

Lucia Drigo1, Lufuno Makhado2, *, Rachel Tsakani Lebese3, Maphuti Judas Chueng3
1 Nelspruit Community Health Centre, 10 Brander Street, Mbombela Municipality, Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
2 Department of Public Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
3 Research office, School of Health Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa

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© 2021 Drigo et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa; E-mail:



Cultural norms bring substantial weight in women’s decision-making, especially concerning the choice of the birth location. Cultural and religious practices may influence how pregnant women respond to Antenatal Care (ANC) services, feel confident about which questions to ask, or participate in the discussions about their care plan or birth options.


The study aimed to explore and describe the influence of cultural practices on the management of pregnancy in the Mbombela Municipality of Mpumalanga Province.


Using a qualitative approach, pregnant women who failed to completely attend ANC services were purposively sampled, and individual unstructured in-depth interviews were employed to collect data. The study consisted of a sample size of 18 pregnant women, and data saturation was reached. Tech’s method of analysis was followed for data analysis.


Study findings revealed a significant theme: cultural practices and pregnancy management, encompassing three sub-themes: cultural practices in pregnancy, cultural medication taken by pregnant women, and the effects of cultural practices on pregnancy management.


It is recommended that women should be given health education concerning ANC services every day while they wait in primary health care clinics. Accordingly, the healthcare professionals should encourage the active involvement of all pregnant women in health promotion gatherings and offer chances for clarity seeking. Despite the availability of free maternal healthcare services in primary healthcare clinics, women still consult traditional healers during pregnancy and believe in cultural practices. It is therefore important that programs developed for maternal services be congruent to the cultural practices of women to be serviced.

Keywords: Influence, Cultural practices, Management, Pregnancy, Primary health care, Antenatal natal care.