Early Childhood Nutritional Implications of the Rise in Factory Employed Mothers in Rural Cambodia: A Qualitative Study
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Limited research has been conducted on the maternal and child health situation of garment factory workers in Cambodia. This qualitative study investigated the health-seeking behaviours for maternal and infant care of female garment factory workers in Kampong Tralach district, Cambodia.
We conducted 54 in-depth interviews, six focus group discussions and observed two factories. Participants were pregnant women and mothers of infants who have worked in factories, young women currently working in factories, caregivers of children, village leaders, healthcare workers, and factory managers. Deductive and inductive thematic analysis was performed.
The women were accessing regular antenatal and facility-based delivery care. Most factory managers provided maternity leave, and some also provided leave for regular antenatal (ANC) visits. Women often returned to work 2 months post-delivery and this triggered the cessation of exclusive breastfeeding. Feeding was also compromised for the 6–12 months old children as carers, delayed the introduction of complementary feeds. Factories were equipped with childcare and breastfeeding spaces, however these were not used due to both feasibility issues and distrust of factory management. Instead, grandmothers were the preferred childcare providers.
Conclusions for Practice
Current factory policies regarding ANC, maternity leave and childcare provisions are context insensitive to rural workers who live far from the workplace to avail themselves of mandated ANC leave or breastfeeding breaks. Our study suggest that the increasing number of young women working in garment factories is compromising the early nutrition of their children, with a reduction in exclusive breastfeeding and inadequate complementary feeding.
KeywordsInfant and child nutrition Garment factory workers Cambodia Breastfeeding practices Complementary feeding
We would like to thank the World Vision International Cambodia staff and partners, team members of the Health and Nutrition unit and IMNS project, Operations Health Technical Officers, and Operations Monitoring Officers for their support in the pre-test, field data collection, and data analysis. Appreciation goes to Mary Dunbar who advised on the study protocol, and National Ethical Committee for Health Research (NECHR) for approving the study implementation. We are also grateful to the IMNS project partners: Provincial Health Departments, Operational Health District and Village Health Support Groups. Finally, we would like to thank all the participants for sharing the valuable time to participate in this study.
This study was funded by World Vision International Cambodia.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Ethical approval was obtained from the National Ethics Committee for Health Research, Cambodia.
Informed consent prior to all interviews and FGDs were also provided by the participants. Participants were provided with a bar of soap as a form of appreciation and recognition of their time.
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