9:00 am - 10:00 am
ECHA L1 430, 11405 87 Ave NW, Edmonton Alberta
A graduate exam seminar is a presentation of the student’s final research project for their degree.
This is an ALES PhD Final Exam Seminar by Maira Quintanilha. This seminar is open to the general public to attend.
Thesis Topic: Women’s realities shape their experiences of health during pregnancy and postpartum
PhD with Drs. Rhonda Bell and Maria Mayan.
Low socioeconomic status can negatively affect many aspects of a healthy pregnancy, including women’s ability to access and consume healthy foods. Food insecurity has well-known effects on women’s health and stress levels, with increased nutrient and caloric demands during pregnancy placing women of low socioeconomic status at a higher risk of food insecurity. The overall purpose of these PhD studies was to explore the perceptions and experiences of health during pregnancy and postpartum among women facing difficult life circumstances (e.g., low income, recent immigration to Canada, social and geographical isolation) while receiving support from community-based perinatal programs. The prevalence and experiences of household food insecurity among immigrant and refugee women connected to one perinatal program were also examined.
Using a community-based research approach, two focused ethnographic studies were conducted with pregnant and postpartum North African women and women living in rural Alberta. These studies involved focus groups with women (80 North African women; 28 women in Southern Alberta), interviews with health care and service providers (8), and observations of community-based perinatal program activities. All generated data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis to inductively derive codes and categories. The prevalence and experiences of household food insecurity were investigated using an exploratory sequential mixed method research design. Data were collected sequentially, analyzed separately, and then integrated in the discussion of findings.
Northeast African women discussed that in their home countries regardless of their socioeconomic status they felt supported in pregnancy and postpartum as their kinship provided them with “everything they needed” to be healthy, including nutritious foods, physical activity opportunities, and adequate time for rest. In Canada, these women faced many difficult life circumstances, including severe food insecurity, that increased stress and created a sense of isolation. Rural women perceived being healthy during pregnancy and postpartum as eating healthy foods, taking prenatal vitamins, being physically active and emotionally well; however, they commonly described coping with food insecurity, pregnancy complications, spousal issues that posed as barriers to being healthy for themselves and their babies. Overall, women identified many aspects of community-based perinatal programs that addressed the barriers they faced, and enabled better health during pregnancy and postpartum. When community-based programs show such potential to alleviate some of the burdens experienced by women, they should be well supported through policies, and connected to health care and social systems.