Fono 2

Nourishing the fonua or fanua before pregnancy

Participants discuss Pacific Islanders’ connection to the land and environment or fonua or fanua, which includes the mother’s womb and placenta. They learn about the importance of preconception health (the health of women and men before pregnancy). They gain experience navigating health resources.

Key elements

  • Welcome, Review and Follow Up
  • Cultural Concept Fonua or Fanua
  • Video: It Takes a Family
  • Presentation on Preconception Health
  • Break (Optional)
  • Navigation Activity
  • Fono Assignment
  • Post-Questionnaire

Cultural concept fonua or fanua

Land is a central part of Pacific Islander identity. When we care for the land and environment, that care comes back to the people. “The purpose of this relationship and exchange between the environment and [its people] is to maintain harmony in life in sustainable ways.” (Tu‘itah, 2007)

Fonua (Tongan) or fanua (Samoan) means all nourishing environments, including the land, physical environment, ecosystem, etc. This includes the mother’s womb and baby’s placenta.

Fonua or fanua is also the word for the baby’s placenta. The placenta is an organ formed during pregnancy, which connects the mother and baby. Through the placenta, the mother provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby.

“In the world of the womb, the baby is sustained by her fonua [fanua], the placenta. The baby is later born into the [land], where she experiences life and builds relationships with the fonua [fanua]: the entire ecology, including its human inhabitants. As part of the birth process, the remains of the [placenta] that sustained the baby are returned by burial to the [physical land] ... Upon her death, she is returned to her fonualoto [tu‛ugamau] (land within the land), or her grave.” (Tu‘itah, 2007)

Video: It takes a family

It Takes a Family is the second video in the community education and engagement series for It Takes a Village: Giving Our Babies the Best Chance. It focuses on the importance of doing all you can before pregnancy to make sure the mother, baby, and family is healthy.

PowerPoint: Preconception health

Learn more about being healthy before pregnancy or nourishing the fonua or fanua before pregnancy.

Navigation activity

In a western context, we have many different opportunities to nourish our fonua or fanua or the space in which we live. This activity will help us gain skills to navigate the resources available in this western space that will encourage our fonua or fanua to thrive.

Fono 3: Strengthening the kaliloa/ ‘aliloa during and after pregnancy

Participants acknowledge the importance of passing on cultural knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next through the practice of storytelling on the mother’s forearm or kaliloa or ‘aliloa. They learn how birth spacing or spacing between pregnancies can support this practice. They map out how they will share what they have learned with their kin members and community.