A qualitative study about the gendered experiences of motherhood and perinatal mortality in mountain villages of Nepal: Implications for improving perinatal survival

Mohan Paudel, Sara Javanparast, Gouranga Dasvarma, Lareen Newman

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Background: We aim to examine the gendered contexts of poor perinatal survival in the remote mountain villages of Nepal. The study setting comprised two remote mountain villages from a mid-western mountain district of Nepal that ranks lowest on the Human Development Index (0.304), and is reported as having the lowest child survival rates in the country. Methods: The findings are taken from a larger study of perinatal survival in remote mountain villages of Nepal, conducted through a qualitative methodological approach within a framework of social constructionist and critical theoretical perspectives. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with 42 women and their families, plus a range of healthcare providers (nurses/auxiliary nurses, female health volunteers, support staff, Auxiliary Health Worker and a traditional healer) and other stakeholders from February to June, 2015. Data were analysed with a comprehensive coding process utilising the thematic analysis technique. Results: The social construction of gender is one of the key factors influencing poor perinatal survival in the villages in this study. The key emerging themes from the qualitative data are: (1) Gendered social construct and vulnerability for poor perinatal survival: child marriages, son preference and repeated child bearing; (2) Pregnancy and childbirth in intra-familial dynamics of relationships and power; and (3) Perception of birth as a polluted event: birth in Gotha (cowshed) and giving birth alone. Conclusions: Motherhood among women of a low social position is central to women and their babies experiencing vulnerabilities related to perinatal survival in the mountain villages. Gendered constructions along the continuum from pre-pregnancy to postnatal (girl settlement, a daughter-in-law, ritual pollution about mother and child) create challenges to ensuring perinatal survival in these villages. It is imperative that policies and programmes consider such a context to develop effective working strategies for sustained reduction of future perinatal deaths.

Original languageEnglish
Article number163
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Childbirth
  • Gender
  • Motherhood
  • Mountain
  • Nepal
  • Perinatal survival

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