Qatar is an Arab nation in the Middle East, where the predominant language is Arabic and the main religion is Islam. In 2008, Qatari infirmaries performed 14,714 deliveries. At the same time, 9% of overall live deliveries were underweight births and 9.1% were pre-term. Qatar’s leading health care organization Hamad Medical Corporation claimed that the proportion of low weight births remained almost unchanged since 1990, thus remaining at 8.4 to 9.4%. Consistent with the findings of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the prenatal rate of Qatar is somewhat greater than in Japan (7/1000) and the USA (7/1000). The literature research claims that this rate is the result of Qatar having a greater still birth rate of 8/1000 in comparison to these two nations and other business topics.
Regardless of health improvements and fast economic growth in Qatar, the rate of low weight live birth remains persistent, thus necessitating further analysis. Moreover, there is an agreement between healthcare experts about the literature gap on religious and cultural practices and beliefs that impact healthcare activities of Qatari women. The understanding of practices and beliefs is instantly required when preparing healthcare facilities. Pregnancy and childbirth are crucial life occasions that necessitate a good comprehension of body adjustments and necessary care. Therefore, the initiatives that are culturally capable of preparing females for pregnancy and childbearing are necessary when arranging healthcare services. This research was performed to help understand health practices and beliefs of Qatari women in the fields of pregnancy and childbirth.
Thus, the research question is:
What are the cultural beliefs and practices of Qatari women regarding pregnancy and childbirth?
The research utilized a qualitative descriptive study design that used focus groups. The latter is a qualitative study methodology as it inquires participants for open-ended responses, in which they share their feelings or thoughts regarding some issue. The aim was to ascertain the practices and beliefs, held by Qatari women, regarding pregnancy and childbearing by allowing them to remember their previous encounters in order to understand the necessary areas better and facilitate the future study to advance health facilities in the Middle East. The motive to use focus group in this analysis study was to determine cross-cultural information that might guide the content and arrangement of medical practices. Since not all contributors had personally encountered childbearing, some shared the encounters of their relatives – mothers or sisters. Focus groups studies were performed in the native linguistic (Arabic), audio-recorded, then decoded to English for examination. Then, the transcriptions were transferred, coded, and examined for developing themes by using qualitative analysis software. To ensure correctness, these transcriptions were re-assessed against audio-records, rectified, and a hard copy was acquired for initial data analysis.
The findings of the study showed that participants had referred to their relatives, particularly mothers, as a source of information, then their sisters and sisters-in-law who had already given birth. Others supported the thought of finding information about pregnancy in media, books, and the Internet rather than using their mothers as a key source of knowledge. They trusted that their individual encounters might dissimilar from their mothers’. Furthermore, the respondents did not support the thought of pursuing health guidance before getting pregnant, principally if a woman was unmarried, as they perceived it as culturally unacceptable. Even though a newly-wed woman was likely to get pregnant soon after the wedding, she did not seek medical guidance until she was expectant. Moreover, pregnancy is never publicized soon after conception. Participants reported that pronouncing pregnancy early could provoke the evil eye and inflict harm on the mother-to-be and her unborn child. Thus, they might wait until the conclusion of the first trimester to publicize their pregnancy.
Moreover, participants stated that Qatari males had a fondness for having a big family. Furthermore, they claimed that even though their culture changed, the husband would normally decide the number of children to have. In Qatar, the preference of male children over female ones currently changes, but it still exists. Additionally, participants stressed the high necessity for pregnancy and delivery lessons for women. Most participants trust that Qatari women will embrace delivery and Lamaze lessons, particularly if they are offered at a suitable location and time. Participants referred to health hubs and hospitals as their key source of information about newborn care, mainly in the areas regarding vaccination and feeding.
In the Middle East, pursuing medical guidance during pregnancy is an uncommon idea. Women acquire information from various sources like media, books, and family for pregnancy preparation. The findings of the study have showed that Qatari women search for medical care only after pregnancy has begun, which can be linked to the point that Arab Muslim females perceive pregnancy as a natural course (Maroon, 2014). Therefore, pursuing medical guidance prior to pregnancy is seen as unnecessary (Maroon, 2014). Participants stated that during pregnancy, Qatari women could agree to take childbirth and Lamaze lessons if they offered in a culturally sensitive manner, where spouses would not escort their expectant wives. Most participants claimed that they were unhappy with their childbearing encounters and felt that they lacked control over the encounter. Further, they noted that most mothers believed that childbirth was more agonizing than they had expected. They failed to understand various procedures during delivery, and they were frightened. These outcomes validate a significant necessity for medical education and Lamaze lessons so that females had some knowledge regarding the processes of childbirth in the Middle East.
Even though Qatari culture changes rapidly, the participants have testified that the number of children is determined mostly by the husband. Participants reported that in households where the husband made such a decision, they had considerably more children than in households where both spouses made this decision. At the same time, this research established that male children were more preferred in families. In Arab Muslim cultures, the preference of sons is relatively common for the reservation of the family name, economic support of the family, and security for parents when they grow old. Further, healthcare centers and hospitals were established to be a source of information about childcare, even though it was limited to vaccinations and nourishing. Mothers and their female relatives were established to play a key role in enlightening and supporting the new mothers in offering care during and after pregnancy. The 40-day period of care following childbirth is a culture normally found in Middle East since the young mother and her newborn are seen as being susceptible to infection and at a bigger risk to death in this period.
A pregnancy, childbearing, and childcare education program, which is also culturally sensitive and evidence-centered, must be introduced for Arab females in the Middle East. However, for such an initiative to be accepted, it must correspond with religious beliefs and practices of Arabic society. An education initiative is an effective technique to lower neonatal and prenatal mortality in the Middle East.
This qualitative research offered a good fundamental cultural understanding of the health practices and beliefs of Qatari women in the field of pregnancy and parenting. It was unmistakable that relatives played a vital role in offering education and care to the mothers through pregnancy and after delivery, particularly through the 40-day period following childbirth. The outcomes of this study are beneficial since they can assist in establishing a culturally suitable childbirth educational initiative for females in the Middle East and guide future investigation to assessing the success of the initiatives set forward. Novel educational programs can facilitate in the decrease of neonatal and prenatal mortality rates in Arabic world. However, they must be delivered in a culturally sensitive way.