Aboriginal and Immigrant Women’s Food Choices and Practices in Pregnancy: A Scoping Review

Gina M. A. Higginbottom, PhD; Fabiana Mamede, PhD; Rubina Barolia, PhD (candidate); Helen Vallianatos, PhD; and Thane Chambers, MLIS

Dietary patterns of pregnant women are closely related to cultural values, beliefs, and various social and economic factors. Knowledge of the food choices and practices among pregnant Aboriginal and immigrant women, who both are vulnerable to poor pregnancy and birth outcomes, is essential for midwives and other maternity care providers to provide culturally appropriate care during pregnancy. A “scoping review,” guided by Arksey and O’Malley’s framework, was performed to examine and outline the extent, range, and nature of empirical evidence on immigrant and Aboriginal women’s food practices during pregnancy. Assisted by an information scientist, a systematic search strategy without language or date restrictions was implemented in several electronic databases to identify primary research articles on the subject. Two reviewers independently screened, selected, and charted the data, and team consensus was used for discrepancies. A descriptive analytical framework was followed to depict the existing narrative account of the included studies. Seventeen articles describing seven qualitative and ten quantitative research studies were selected for review, and nine themes were identified. This review will help midwives and other maternity care providers gain an understanding of the importance of culture for Aboriginal and immigrant women’s diets and of existing barriers so that prenatal care can be individually tailored to include nutritional advice and to optimize culturally appropriate care. More individual studies that focus on the cultural aspects of immigrants and Aboriginal pregnant women are needed to improve prenatal care.

emigrants and immigrants, indigenous population, pregnant women, nutrition during pregnancy, cultural competency

This article has been peer reviewed.


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