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To understand urban mothers’ experiences of child care and feeding, one sub-city was selected to serve as a microcosm. For this study, Lideta sub-city, which is one of the innermost, and oldest, with nearly a quarter of million inhabitants, was purposively selected. Mothers were recruited from all ten of the woredas/districts within Lideta. The main inclusion criteria were that mothers had to have had at least one child under the age of five years and lived in Addis Ababa for at least 6 months.
Health extension workers in the woredas were initially contacted to serve as a gateway to the community.
When inviting mothers to our study, efforts were made to diversify them by the age of their child, their educational level, work status, and involvement in community initiatives among other categories. In the end, in-depth interviews were carried out with thirty-six mothers. All of the informants were invited to participate in person; for those who agreed to participate, the time and place of the interview was selected in consultation with the mothers.
On the day of the interview, a verbal introduction to the topic of discussion was given and verbal informed consent was obtained from the participant prior to starting the interview. In order to promote an informal discussion that served to motivate the mothers to discuss their experiences in as much depth as possible, the interviews were carried out in a relaxed atmosphere.
Further, the inter-view started off by gathering some general household information with an opening question asking the mother to tell us a bit about her daily activities.
To facilitate the interview process, a semi-structured interview guide was used. The guide was first prepared in English, and, once the re-search team agreed on its contents, it was translated into Amharic (the national language) for the interview. The initial interviews were con-ducted by trained research assistants.
Research assistants with prior ex-perience of doing qualitative research were recruited, all held post-graduate degrees and were given additional training prior to starting data collection. The training session included an orientation to the objectives of the study, the study guide, the importance of obtaining informed consent, and the use of audio recorders as well as a refresher on how to conduct in-depth interviews. The interviews followed the principles of naturalistic inquiry, where each interview was conducted as an open discussion using open-ended questions and follow-up probes.
During the fieldwork, I observed sev-eral of the interviews and reviewed my field-notes at the end of each day to provide feedback to the research assistants. When necessary, I consulted with the research team to enrich the interview guide; lessons learned from each interview and emerging topic areas were subsequent-ly integrated as the fieldwork continued. After carrying out some preliminary analysis, I carried out a second set of interviews to enable me to delve deeper into the emerging themes.
The interviews started by asking the mothers to describe their daily ac-tivities in order to understand the competing demands of their work as well as any economic and time constraints that may affect their role as caregivers. Further, questions on child feeding practices and their moti-vation for food choice were asked, along with probes that explored into other areas, including support systems, common child foods, availability of street food and their composition.
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