“I drink”: Mothers’ alcohol consumption as both individualized and imposed occupation.

Lizahn Gracia Cloete, Elelwani L Ramugondo



Introduction: Occupational engagement is shaped by a person’s history and the environment in which they live. Alcohol consumption as occupation may provide meaning for some, and may develop and change over a lifetime as shaped by environmental and historical context. The influence of contextual factors on alcohol consumption during pregnancy is explored in the current paper by exploring whether maternal alcohol consumption is an  occupation of choice, or if the context presses for excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy for certain communities.

Methodology: A qualitative, instrumental case study was undertaken to focus on the occupational engagement of three black female participants within a rural community of low socio-economic status in the Western Cape, South Africa. Data were collected using extensive naturalistic observation and semi-structured interviews. A three-stage inductive thematic analysis was done.

Findings: Four themes emerged from the study; nothing comes easy, trying to make this life bearable, rekindling hope, and baking bread with little. These themes demonstrate the manner in which cultural, economic and political conditions play a pertinent role in the lives of these three women and how maternal alcohol consumption emerges within context, and as part of motherhood.

Conclusions: The interplay between the context and occupation demonstrates how through structural entrenchment imposed occupations may arise. Historical, cultural, economic and socio-political factors perpetuate occupational inequities, and can translate into alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Generational poverty and the entrenchment of excessive drinking practices contribute equally to the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

Keywords: generational poverty; maternal alcohol consumption as occupation; imposed occupations; Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The South African Journal of Occupational Therapy


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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