Livelihood and Nurturing Care Project


Little is known about health care practices and knowledge among workers in the informal sector, especially regarding child care practices. The constraints are self-evident: how do women working with precarious quality of employment and economic vulnerability navigate the need and choice to work with the requirements of breastfeeding and child care? The absence of structured maternity leave, for example, marks all forms of informal work but in different sectors of informal work, there are even more specific constraints. Women in street vending, for example, face spatial challenges in work sites for breast feeding precisely because they work in public. There is little systematic work that puts together this form of labour and its impact on maternal and child health.

This project aims to learn about patterns of daily life, expectations and current childcare practices including infant and young child feeding, opportunities to provide a conducive and safe environment for improved child care, and attitudes of male partners and co-workers. This will provide information to inform the development of an intervention to improve infant feeding practices among women working in the informal sector. This is a collaborative effort between study teams based in India and South Africa with technical input from the World Health Organization.

In the current phase of the project we will recruit 24 women during pregnancy (including domestic workers and other workers) and follow up for 12 months. The aim of the study is to prospectively explore infant feeding and childcare plans among informally working women, and describe how plans change during pregnancy and after delivery, to explore the role of support networks and relationships in enabling women to manage their multiple roles and responsibilities for work, family and childcare. In addition, we aim to explore anxiety, depression and resilience to adverse events during pregnancy and after delivery among women in informal work.


As an additional activity we have conducted a series of FGDs in Warwick market among women who currently bring their children (under three years) to work with them to explore the experiences and challenges of caring for a child in the market and to develop possible interventions to support these mothers.


  • Publication from initial formative work has been accepted BMC paediatrics
  • Second publication from formative work now under review in BMC public health
  • The cohort of 24 pregnant women has been followed up for one year and data collection is being completed
  • Analysis of qualitative data is underway & draft papers being developed
  • Postnatal depression and stunting survey: data analysis is underway and a manuscript has been drafted
  • Work in Warwick Junction now complete and a report has been completed