OBJECTIVE: To explore and describe the indigenous beliefs and practices that influence the attendance of antenatal clinics by women in the Bohlabelo district in Limpopo, South Africa.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: A qualitative design was used to enable participants to share their beliefs and practices in their own words. Purposive sampling was used.
SETTING: Women who were attending antenatal clinics for the first time were targeted. Data were collected via unstructured in-depth interviews. Twelve women were interviewed.
FINDINGS: The findings were grouped in to six main categories: pregnancy is a honour; pregnancy needs to be preserved; the unborn infant is protected; the knowledge that clients have; trust in indigenous
perinatal practices; and perceptions regarding clinic or hospital services. It became clear that the indigenous beliefs and practices of pregnant women have an influence on their attendance of antenatal
clinics. For example, factors such as fear of bewitchment cause delayed attendance of antenatal clinics. Women use herbs to preserve and protect their unborn infants from harm. They also trust the knowledge
of traditional birth attendants, and prefer their care and expertise to the harsh treatment that they receive from midwives in hospitals and clinics who look down on their indigenous beliefs and practices.
CONCLUSIONS: It is recommended that indigenous beliefs and practices should be incorporated in to the midwifery curriculum, so that the health sector is able to meet the needs of all members of the