Care rituals operated by families during the gestational process: an ethnographic study

Lisie Alende Prates1,2, Andrêssa Batista Possati1, Marcella Simões Timm1, Luiza Cremonese1, Juliane Scarton3, Lúcia Beatriz Ressel1
1Federal University of Santa Maria
2University Hospital of Santa Maria
3Federal University of Rio Grande


Aim: to know the care rituals developed by the family in the gestational process. Method: ethnographic research, to be developed during the months of April and December 2016, with pregnant women and their families in their homes. Will be adopted the model of observation-participation-reflection and in-depth interview. Will be used a diary to record the data. The study has fundamentals of data analysis of the ethnonursing. Expected results: to contribute to the construction of knowledge in the field of nursing, enabling reflection on the importance of valuing the care rituals developed by the family in the gestational process, as well as the cultural characteristics and the uniqueness of each family context.

Descriptors: Women's Health; Pregnancy; Family; Culture; Anthropology, Cultural.


Gestational process may represent a unique experience, complex, dynamic and transformative for the woman and her family(1). It is a period marked by intense changes, adaptations, learning and uncertainties(2), accompanied by changes of roles or acquisition of new responsibilities aimed at the reorganization of the new family structure(3).

The family can be understood as the most important and significant social group because it is responsible for the care and meeting the basic needs of its members besides the spread of values, beliefs, traditions and customs. During the gestational process, the family may represent a major source of support, protection and guidance to pregnant women(3).

To perform these roles, the family develops rites (or rituals), which were described by the anthropologist Arnold van Gennep in 1909 as acts or ceremonies that are intended to assist the individual to overcome a certain situation and start another situation equally determined. The rites represent the importance of certain events in a standardized and symbolic way. Gestational process can be understood as a transition ritual, which will be perceived and lived according to each family culture.


What are the care rituals developed by the family in the gestational process? How these rituals are structured in the gestational process of the family?


The general aim of this study is to know the care rituals developed by the family in the gestational process. While the specific aim consists in knowing the care rituals developed by the family in each trimester of pregnancy and analyze how they are structured in the family cultural universe.


Ethnographic research to be developed with pregnant women and their families, between April and December 2016. Access to the pregnant women and families will occur through the actions developed in pregnant group called Group Born Smiling, located in Santa Maria/RS. The group's activities are targeted to pregnant women, families and caregivers, and aim to inform, transmit and clarify issues such as the physiology of pregnancy, labor, delivery and breastfeeding, in addition to providing physical and emotional support to participants. As inclusion criteria were pregnant women and families participating in the Group Born Smiling, regardless of age and gestational stage. Excluded are pregnant and/or family with psychocognitive limitations which make it impossible to understand and participate in the study.

The Born Smiling Group will represent the overall picture, and households of pregnant women, their families and other places we deem necessary, will form the focus scenarios. The study informants are pregnant women and their families. Regarding the number of informants, it considers that, since the research objectives are achieved, ethnographic research may involve few informants.

The research will involve two types of informants: the key informants and general informants. The key informants are individuals who know or experience the care rituals and the general informants are all those who provide additional information to the researcher during the research.

It will be adopted the observation-participation-reflection model (O-P-R), by Madeleine Leininger. It is held the interview on the need to detail, ratify or dismiss the interpretations made with observation.

In the diary, descriptions of informants will be recorded, the speeches and all information or events that relate to the care rituals in the gestational process of the families, as well as all the situations of the studied cultural context. The diary will be organized in notes of observation / interview, theoretical notes and methodological notes. The analysis will be based on the ethnonursing data analysis proposed by Leininger.

This project was approved by the Ethics Committee on Human Research of the Federal University of Santa Maria and will comply with the legal provisions of Resolution 466/2012 of the National Health Council.


The knowledge of care rituals developed in the gestational process of families can help to understand about the way of living and family culture, allowing respect them and value them to attend the pregnant family. It is intended to contribute to the construction of knowledge in the field of nursing, enabling reflection on the importance of valuing the care rituals developed by the family in the gestational process, as well as the cultural characteristics and the uniqueness of each family context.


  1. Oliveira MR, Dessen MA. Alterações na rede social de apoio durante a gestação e o nascimento de filhos. Estud psicol (Online) [internet]. 2012 [Cited 2016 May 25];29(1):81-8. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/pdf/estpsi/v29n1/a09v29n1.pdf
  2. Sanfelice C, Stumm KE, Ressel LB, Flores LP. Crenças e práticas do período gestacional. Saúde (Santa Maria) (Online) [internet]. 2013 [Cited 2016 May 2];39(2):35-48. Available from: http://periodicos.ufsm.br/revistasaude/article/view/5524/pdf_1
  3. Sassá AH, Marcon SS. Evaluation of families of infants with very low birth weight in home care. Texto & contexto enferm (Online) [internet]. 2013 [Cited 2016 May 25];22(2):442-51. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/pdf/tce/v22n2/en_v22n2a21.pdf

All authors participated in the phases of this publication in one or more of the following steps, in According to the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE, 2013): (a) substantial involvement in the planning or preparation of the manuscript or in the collection, analysis or interpretation of data; (b) preparation of the manuscript or conducting critical revision of intellectual content; (c) approval of the versión submitted of this manuscript. All authors declare for the appropriate purposes that the responsibilities related to all aspects of the manuscript submitted to OBJN are yours. They ensure that issues related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the article were properly investigated and resolved. Therefore, they exempt the OBJN of any participation whatsoever in any imbroglios concerning the content under consideration. All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest of financial or personal nature concerning this manuscript which may influence the writing and/or interpretation of the findings. This statement has been digitally signed by all authors as recommended by the ICMJE, whose model is available in http://www.objnursing.uff.br/normas/DUDE_eng_13-06-2013.pdf

Received: 05/08/2016 Revised: 08/12/2016 Approved: 08/12/2016