Ekpoanwan Esienumoh, Regina Ella, Margaret Mboho
Abstract: Childbearing generally refers to the normal but complex physiological process that occurs in the lives of mature female species through which offspring are reproduced. This process seems to attract additional meanings in various cultures and these could be of clinical importance. This study aimed to explore the meaning of childbearing among women in a rural community in Nigeria. Phenomenology design was used and data were generated through in-depth personal interviews of twenty-seven childbearing-aged and menopausal women in a rural community in southern Nigeria. Subsequent to thematic data analysis, meanings attached to childbearing emerged which included the following themes: attainment of full womanhood; fulfilment of religious obligation; same sex children means partial fulfilment of parental joy; childbearing strengthens marital relationship; motivation for maternal reward; means of provision of future parental security; inevitable sacrifice as well as childlessness is an unacceptable phenomenon. Conclusion is that although childbearing is a generic physiological process to produce offspring, it connotes other meanings derived from the cultural background of the woman. The findings of this study are of clinical relevance as they provide a clue to provision of culture-sensitive and standard care to women of childbearing age throughout the reproductive cycle.
Keywords: childbearing meaning, sub-Saharan Africa, culture/cultural competence, mothering, gender issues, womanhood attainment, son preference, childlessness