Research Article: Use of Safety Pin on Garments in Pregnancy: A Belief and Cultural Practice with Potential Harmful Effect

Date Published: January 16, 2017

Publisher: AIMS Press

Author(s): Kola M Owonikoko, Aramide M Tijani, Olarewaju G Bajowa, Oluseyi O Atanda.


Culture has been known to influence practices and beliefs of people world over. Several cultural practices have been noted among pregnant women who were passed from one generation to the next with its potential harmful and beneficial effect. The use of safety pin in is one of such cultural practices that are widely practiced by many pregnant Nigerian women.

We sought to gain a deeper understanding of the source of knowledge and motivation behind the use of safety pin on garments during pregnancy as well as explore potential harmful side effects of this cultural practice.

A total of 419 pregnant women completed questionnaires for a hospital-based cross-sectional study. Safety pin knowledge and motivation for use on garments were assessed using a pre-tested 16 item questionnaire. Consenting women either completed a self-administered structured questionnaire or utilized the help of trained research assistants. Chi-square tests were used to assess relationships between safety pin use on garments and predictor variables. Analysis was done with Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 17.

Of 419 participants, over half (n = 227) reported safety pin use on garments in pregnancy. About two-thirds (n = 177) of women who use safety pin reported older female relatives as their source of information. The mean age of the participants was 29.1 ± 5.74 (range 16–45 years). Traditional religion worshippers were more likely (81.2%) and Christians were least likely to use safety pin (50.7%) during pregnancy. Pregnant women with a tertiary education (50.4%) were least likely to use safety pin compared with women with no or less than a tertiary level of education. Protection of pregnancy against demons/witchcrafts was the reason given by 129 (56.8%) of participants using safety pin in pregnancy.

The use of safety pin on garments during pregnancy is a common cultural practice in southwest Nigeria. Our findings also suggest that religion and education are important determinants of safety pin use. Although our study did not find a statistically significant difference in safety pin prick incidents among safety pin users, it remains a potential source of harm. Thus, there is a need to establish community and hospital based strategies that address potential cultural harmful practices while promoting culturally appropriate healthcare services.

Partial Text

The journey of pregnancy has been described as one laden with uncertainties for many women. Many mothers and especially first time mothers are overwhelmed by the gamut of information available to them aimed at helping them cope with the changes in their bodies and also help prepare them for their new roles as mothers. The internet has been described as a common tool used to source for information in the developed world [1]–[5]. In a study carried out by Bert at al., 95% of pregnant women in Italy accessed the internet for information regarding their health [6]. A similar study in Sweden found that 84% of women also utilized the internet for information [7].

Data for this study was obtained from a cross sectional descriptive study among 419 pregnant women at Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital (LTH), Ogbomoso, Nigeria between 1st April and 30th June, 2014. Women presenting for antenatal visits at LTH were approached for participation during the study period.

Our findings from the study suggest that religion and educational status are associated with safety pin use on garments or undergarments in pregnancy in Ogbomosho town southwest Nigeria, although in complex ways. Traditional religion worshippers were more likely and Christians were less likely to utilize a safety pin. Safety pin use was however not associated with age, tribe, occupation and maternal characteristics such as parity, previous miscarriages and number of living children.

As our population is now becoming ethnically and racially diverse, health care providers must recognize the need to provide culturally acceptable and appropriate care to the populace. Providers who understand the cultural norms, values, beliefs and practices of patients are more likely to be able to provide culturally acceptable care which will subsequently translate to opportunities for health promotion, wellness, health maintenance, and disease and injury prevention.




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