Location: Accra, Ghana
Religion, Spirituality, and Maternal Health Seeking Behaviors Cape Coast, Ghana: A Case Study
How relevant are religion and spirituality to maternal health seeking behaviours in Cape Coast, Ghana? This is the primary question that will be addressed in this paper. It seeks to establish whether or not there is a connection between pregnant women’s religious and spiritual beliefs and their decision-making with regard to prenatal care, labour, and childbirth. The study focuses on the experiences of women in Cape Coast, which is in the Central region of Ghana. This paper seeks to problematize the idea that religion and what has been called “traditional spiritual belief” exist as two separate belief systems. Instead, I argue that these so-called “traditional” beliefs intersect and combine with Christian beliefs, and vice versa, in resulting in belief systems that incorporate both God and the ‘smaller gods’, and that this concept has significant bearing on the topic of maternal health seeking behaviours. It is important to understand the nature of belief systems in the Ghanaian context, and to understand the contribution of what I will term both religion and spirituality to maternal health seeking behaviours. Findings indicate that religion and spirituality, conceived of here as a conceptual whole, have direct influence on maternal health seeking behaviours in Cape Coast, particularly with regard to the behaviours and decisions made during pregnancy, as well as the choice of where, and with whom, to deliver.