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1.  The use of antenatal and postnatal care: perspectives and experiences of women and health care providers in rural southern Tanzania 
Although antenatal care coverage in Tanzania is high, worrying gaps exist in terms of its quality and ability to prevent, diagnose or treat complications. Moreover, much less is known about the utilisation of postnatal care, by which we mean the care of mother and baby that begins one hour after the delivery until six weeks after childbirth. We describe the perspectives and experiences of women and health care providers on the use of antenatal and postnatal services.
From March 2007 to January 2008, we conducted in-depth interviews with health care providers and village based informants in 8 villages of Lindi Rural and Tandahimba districts in southern Tanzania. Eight focus group discussions were also conducted with women who had babies younger than one year and pregnant women. The discussion guide included information about timing of antenatal and postnatal services, perceptions of the rationale and importance of antenatal and postnatal care, barriers to utilisation and suggestions for improvement.
Women were generally positive about both antenatal and postnatal care. Among common reasons mentioned for late initiation of antenatal care was to avoid having to make several visits to the clinic. Other concerns included fear of encountering wild animals on the way to the clinic as well as lack of money. Fear of caesarean section was reported as a factor hindering intrapartum care-seeking from hospitals. Despite the perceived benefits of postnatal care for children, there was a total lack of postnatal care for the mothers. Shortages of staff, equipment and supplies were common complaints in the community.
Efforts to improve antenatal and postnatal care should focus on addressing geographical and economic access while striving to make services more culturally sensitive. Antenatal and postnatal care can offer important opportunities for linking the health system and the community by encouraging women to deliver with a skilled attendant. Addressing staff shortages through expanding training opportunities and incentives to health care providers and developing postnatal care guidelines are key steps to improve maternal and newborn health.
PMCID: PMC2664785  PMID: 19261181
2.  Skilled Care at Birth among Rural Women in Nepal: Practice and Challenges 
In Nepal, most births take place at home, and many, particularly in rural areas, are not attended by a skilled birth attendant. The main objectives of the study were to assess the use of skilled delivery care and barriers to access such care in a rural community and to assess health problems during delivery and seeking care. This cross-sectional study was carried out in two Village Development Committees in Nepal in 2006. In total, 150 women who had a live birth in the 24 months preceding the survey were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. The sample population included married women aged 15-49 years. Forty-six (31%) women delivered their babies at hospital, and 104 (69%) delivered at home. The cost of delivery at hospital was significantly (p<0.001) higher than that of a delivery at home. Results of univariate analysis showed that women from Brahmin-Chhetri ethnicity, women with higher education or who were more skilled, whose husbands had higher education and more skilled jobs, had first or second childbirth, and having adverse previous obstetric history were associated with institutional delivery while women with higher education and having an adverse history of pregnancy outcome predicted the uptake of skilled delivery care in Nepal. The main perceived problems to access skilled delivery care were: distance to hospital, lack of transportation, lack of awareness on delivery care, and cost. The main reasons for seeking intrapartum care were long labour, retained placenta, and excessive bleeding. Only a quarter of women sought care immediately after problems occurred. The main reasons seeking care late were: the woman or her family not perceiving that there was a serious problem, distance to health facility, and lack of transport. The use of skilled birth attendants at delivery among rural women in Nepal is very poor. Home delivery by unskilled birth attendants is still a common practice among them. Many associated factors relating to the use of skilled delivery care that were identified included age, education and occupation of women, and education and occupation of husbands. Therefore, the availability of skilled delivery care services at the community, initiation of a primary health centre with skilled staff for delivery, and increasing awareness among women to seek skilled delivery care are the best solution.
PMCID: PMC3190368  PMID: 21957676
Childbirth; Cross-sectional studies; Descriptive studies; Delivery; Rural health services; Skilled attendants; Nepal
3.  The role of mothers-in-law in antenatal care decision-making in Nepal: a qualitative study 
Antenatal care (ANC) has been recognised as a way to improve health outcomes for pregnant women and their babies. However, only 29% of pregnant women receive the recommended four antenatal visits in Nepal but reasons for such low utilisation are poorly understood. As in many countries of South Asia, mothers-in-law play a crucial role in the decisions around accessing health care facilities and providers. This paper aims to explore the mother-in-law's role in (a) her daughter-in-law's ANC uptake; and (b) the decision-making process about using ANC services in Nepal.
In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 purposively selected antenatal or postnatal mothers (half users, half non-users of ANC), 10 husbands and 10 mothers-in-law in two different (urban and rural) communities.
Our findings suggest that mothers-in-law sometime have a positive influence, for example when encouraging women to seek ANC, but more often it is negative. Like many rural women of their generation, all mothers-in-law in this study were illiterate and most had not used ANC themselves. The main factors leading mothers-in-law not to support/encourage ANC check ups were expectations regarding pregnant women fulfilling their household duties, perceptions that ANC was not beneficial based largely on their own past experiences, the scarcity of resources under their control and power relations between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Individual knowledge and social class of the mothers-in-law of users and non-users differed significantly, which is likely to have had an effect on their perceptions of the benefits of ANC.
Mothers-in-law have a strong influence on the uptake of ANC in Nepal. Understanding their role is important if we are to design and target effective community-based health promotion interventions. Health promotion and educational interventions to improve the use of ANC should target women, husbands and family members, particularly mothers-in-law where they control access to family resources.
PMCID: PMC2910658  PMID: 20594340
4.  Factors associated with the utilisation of postnatal care services among the mothers of Nepal: analysis of Nepal Demographic and Health Survey 2011 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:19.
Postnatal care is essential to save the life of the mother and newborn. Knowledge on the determinants of postnatal care assists the policy makers to design, justify and implement appropriate interventions. The current study aimed to analyse the factors associated with utilisation of postnatal care services by mothers in Nepal based on the data from Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2011.
This study utilised the data from NDHS 2011. The association between utilisation of at least one postnatal care visit (within 6 weeks of delivery) and immediate postnatal care (within 24 hours of delivery) with selected factors was examined by using Chi-square test (χ2), followed by multiple logistic regression.
Of the 4079 mothers, 43.2% reported attending postnatal care within the first six weeks of birth, while 40.9% reported attending immediate postnatal care. Mothers who were from urban areas, from rich families, who were educated, whose partners were educated, who delivered in a health facility, who had attended a four or more antenatal visits, and whose delivery was attended by a skilled attendant were more likely to report attending at least one postnatal care visit. On the other hand, mothers who reported agricultural occupation, and whose partners performed agricultural occupation were less likely to have attended at least one postnatal care visit. Similarly, mothers who were from the urban areas, from rich families, who were educated, whose partners were educated, who had attended four or more antenatal visits, who delivered in a health facility and had delivered in the presence of a skilled birth attendant were more likely to report attending immediate postnatal care. Mothers who reported agricultural occupation, and whose partners performed agricultural occupation were less likely to attend immediate postnatal care.
The majority of postnatal mothers in Nepal did not seek postnatal care. Increasing utilisation of the recommended four or more antenatal visits, delivery at health facility and increasing awareness and access to services through community-based programs especially for the rural, poor, and less educated mothers may increase postnatal care attendance in Nepal.
PMCID: PMC3911793  PMID: 24484933
Antenatal care; Determinants; Maternal mortality; Nepal; Postnatal care; Place of delivery; Wealth
5.  The early postnatal period: Exploring women's views, expectations and experiences of care using focus groups in Victoria, Australia 
There is growing evidence from Australia and overseas that the care provided in hospital in the early postnatal period is less than ideal for both women and care providers. Many health services face increasing pressure on hospital beds and have limited physical space available to care for mothers and their babies. We aimed to gain a more in-depth understanding of women's views, expectations and experiences of early postnatal care.
We conducted focus groups in rural and metropolitan Victoria, Australia in 2006. Fifty-two people participated in eight focus groups and four interviews. Participants included eight pregnant women, of whom seven were pregnant with their first baby; 42 women who were in the postpartum period (some up to twelve months after the birth of their baby); and two partners. All participants were fluent in English. Focus group guides were developed specifically for the study and explored participants' experiences and/or expectations of early postnatal care in hospital and at home, with an emphasis on length of hospital stay, professional and social support, continuity of care, and rest. Discussions were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. A thematic network was constructed to describe and connect categories with emerging basic, organizing, and global themes.
Global themes that emerged were: anxiety and/or fear; and the transition to motherhood and parenting. The needs of first time mothers were considered to be different to the needs of women who had already experienced motherhood. The women in this study were generally concerned about the safety of their new baby, and lacked confidence in themselves as new mothers regarding their ability to care for their baby. There was a consistent view that the physical presence and availability of professional support helped alleviate these concerns, and this was especially the case for women having a first baby.
Women have anxieties and fears around early parenting and their changing role, and may consider that the physical availability of professional care providers will help during this time. Care providers should be cognisant of these potential issues. It is crucial that women's concerns and needs be considered when service delivery changes are planned. If anxiety around new parenting is a predominant view then care providers need to recognise this and ensure care is individualised to address each woman's/families particular concerns.
PMCID: PMC2503951  PMID: 18644157
6.  HIV/AIDS and Postnatal Depression at the University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia 
Medical journal of Zambia  2010;37(2):78-83.
To study the contribution of HIV/AIDS to the problem of postnatal depression among women receiving postnatal care at University Teaching Hospital (UTH), Lusaka, Zambia.
Postnatal depression (PND), a major depressive episode during the puerperium, affects between 10% and 22% of adult women before the infant’s first birthday. HIV seropositivity has been associated with increased risk of mental disease, but its influence on postnatal depression has not been fully explored.
This was a cross-sectional study, involving 229 mothers receiving postnatal care at UTH. The presence of postnatal depression and mean scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) were assessed, along with the patients’ HIV status and other demographic and clinical characteristics.
146 of 229 patients (64%) had depressive symptoms as measured by an EPDS score ≥ 8. Sixty-four women (28%) had severe PND, defined as an EPDS score ≥ 13. There were 46 HIV positive women (20.1%). HIV status was not associated with PND (adjusted OR 1.22, 95% CI 0.50-2.96) or severe PND (adjusted OR 1.77, 95% CI 0.68-4.61). Mixed mode of infant feeding and parity of 4-5 were independently associated with PND.
Depression is a real health problem among mothers attending postnatal care at UTH. HIV status was not independently associated with increased risk of postnatal depression. Keywords: postnatal depression, puerperium, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, prevalence of HIV/AIDS
PMCID: PMC3515762  PMID: 23226901
postnatal depression; puerperium; Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; prevalence of HIV/AIDS
7.  Reaching Mothers and Babies with Early Postnatal Home Visits: The Implementation Realities of Achieving High Coverage in Large-Scale Programs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68930.
Nearly half of births in low-income countries occur without a skilled attendant, and even fewer mothers and babies have postnatal contact with providers who can deliver preventive or curative services that save lives. Community-based maternal and newborn care programs with postnatal home visits have been tested in Bangladesh, Malawi, and Nepal. This paper examines coverage and content of home visits in pilot areas and factors associated with receipt of postnatal visits.
Using data from cross-sectional surveys of women with live births (Bangladesh 398, Malawi: 900, Nepal: 615), generalized linear models were used to assess the strength of association between three factors - receipt of home visits during pregnancy, birth place, birth notification - and receipt of home visits within three days after birth. Meta-analytic techniques were used to generate pooled relative risks for each factor adjusting for other independent variables, maternal age, and education.
The proportion of mothers and newborns receiving home visits within three days after birth was 57% in Bangladesh, 11% in Malawi, and 50% in Nepal. Mothers and newborns were more likely to receive a postnatal home visit within three days if the mother received at least one home visit during pregnancy (OR2.18, CI1.46–3.25), the birth occurred outside a facility (OR1.48, CI1.28–1.73), and the mother reported a CHW was notified of the birth (OR2.66, CI1.40–5.08). Checking the cord was the most frequently reported action; most mothers reported at least one action for newborns.
Reaching mothers and babies with home visits during pregnancy and within three days after birth is achievable using existing community health systems if workers are available; linked to communities; and receive training, supplies, and supervision. In all settings, programs must evaluate what community delivery systems can handle and how to best utilize them to improve postnatal care access.
PMCID: PMC3714261  PMID: 23874816
8.  Birth Preparedness and Its Effect on Place of Delivery and Post-Natal Check-Ups in Nepal 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e60957.
Introduction and Rationale
Number of demographically laggard countries will forego MDGs 4 and 5, and Nepal is not an exception to it. International reports reveal that, lack of adequate birth preparedness is one of the greatest hurdles in achievement of MDG 4 and 5. However, lack of comprehensive evidence at country level in developing countries like Nepal is a hindrance for policy making. In this context, this study estimated birth preparedness among Nepali women and its association with institutional delivery and postnatal care in Nepal.
Methodology/Principal Fining
Secondary data such as latest round of Nepal Demographic and Health Survey Data (NDHS, 2011) has been used in the study. Bivariate and multivariate models are applied as the methods of data analyses. Results reveals that only 32 per cent of women in Nepal have birth preparedness. The women who are well prepared belong to higher age group (45%), higher education (36%) and with higher women autonomy (86%). Women, who are well prepared for child birth (OR = 3.137, p<0.01) have a greater likelihood of going for institutional deliveries that women with no preparation (OR = 1). However, irrespective of level of birth preparedness, women in Nepal preferred to deliver the baby in public health facility that private health Facility.
Conclusion and Implications
Findings reveal that birth preparedness is one of the critical factors in determining the likelihood of having institutional delivery and checkups after delivery. At policy perspective, this study fosters that developing countries like Nepal have to ensure adequate and universal birth preparedness in order to achieve goal 4 and 5 of MDGs.
PMCID: PMC3655026  PMID: 23690921
9.  A Comparison of Sexual Outcomes in Primiparous Women Experiencing Vaginal and Caesarean Births 
Background and Objective:
We conducted this study to evaluate and compare postpartum sexual functioning after vaginal and caesarean births.
Materials and Methods:
This was a cross-sectional study that was carried out in postnatal health care in a hospital. A total of 50 primiprous women who had given birth 6-12 months ago and came to the hospital for postnatal care were asked to join the study. Forty of the women completed the entire questionnaire. Among these women, 20 delivered spontaneously with mediolateral episiotomy and 20 had elective caesarean section. Sexual function was evaluated by a validated, self-created questionnaire. A statistical evaluation was carried out by SPSS v.11. A two-part self-created validated questionnaire for data collection was administered regarding sexual function prior to pregnancy and 6-12 months postpartum.
The median time to restart intercourse in the normal vaginal delivery with episiotomy (NVD/epi) group was 40 days and in the caesarean section (C/S) group was 10 days postpartum. The most common problems in the NVD/epi group was decreased libido (80%), sexual dissatisfaction (65%), and vaginal looseness (55%). In the C/S group, the most common problems were vaginal dryness (85%), sexual dissatisfaction (60%), and decreased libido (35%). There were clinically significant differences between the two groups regarding sexual outcomes, but these differences were not statically significant.
Postnatal sexual problems were very common after both NVD/epi and C/S. Because sexual problems are so prevalent during the postpartum period, clinicians should draw more attention to the women's sexual life and try to improve their quality of life after delivery.
PMCID: PMC2781119  PMID: 19966959
Postpartum; caesarean section; normal vaginal delivery; sexual problems
10.  The effectiveness of exercise as a treatment for postnatal depression: study protocol 
Postnatal depression can have a substantial impact on the woman, the child and family as a whole. Thus, there is a need to examine different ways of helping women experiencing postnatal depression; encouraging them to exercise may be one way. A meta analysis found some support for exercise as an adjunctive treatment for postnatal depression but the methodological inadequacy of the few small studies included means that it is uncertain whether exercise reduces symptoms of postnatal depression. We aim to determine whether a pragmatic exercise intervention that involves one-to-one personalised exercise consultations and telephone support plus usual care in women with postnatal depression, is superior to usual care only, in reducing symptoms of postnatal depression.
We aim to recruit 208 women with postnatal depression in the West Midlands. Recently delivered women who meet the ICD-10 diagnosis for depression will be randomised to usual care plus exercise or usual care only. The exercise intervention will be delivered over 6 months. The primary outcome measure is difference in mean Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score between the groups at six month follow-up. Outcome measures will be assessed at baseline and at six and 12 month post randomisation.
Findings from the research will inform future clinical guidance on antenatal and postnatal mental health, as well as inform practitioners working with postnatal depression.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC3449184  PMID: 22682671
Exercise; Postnatal depression
11.  A qualitative study of the acceptability of routine screening of postnatal women using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. 
BACKGROUND: Screening for postnatal depression using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) has been widely recommended and implemented in primary care, although little is known about how acceptable it is to women. AIM: To explore the acceptability to women of postnatal screening by health visitors with the EPDS. DESIGN OF STUDY: Qualitative interview study. SETTING: Postnatal patients from 22 general practices within the area of Oxford City Primary Care Group. METHOD: Thirty-nine postnatal women from a purposive sample were interviewed, chosen on the basis of different general practices, EPDS results at eight weeks and eight months postnatal, and whether 'listening visits' were received. The interviews were analysed using the constant comparative method. RESULTS: Just over half of the women interviewed found screening with the EPDS less than acceptable, whatever their postnatal emotional health. The main themes identified were problems with the process of screening and, in particular, the venue, the personal intrusion of screening and stigma. The women interviewed had a clear preference for talking about how they felt, rather than filling out a questionnaire. CONCLUSION: For this sample, routine screening with the EPDS was less than acceptable for the majority of women. This is of concern, as universal screening with the EPDS for the detection of postnatal depression is already recommended and widespread in primary care.
PMCID: PMC1314675  PMID: 14601337
12.  Primary healthcare worker knowledge related to prenatal and immediate newborn care: a cross sectional study in Masindi, Uganda 
Global neonatal mortality remains unacceptably high. Health workers who attend to prenatal and postnatal mothers need to be knowledgeable in preventive and curative care for pregnant women and their newborn babies. This study aimed to determine the level of knowledge related to prenatal and immediate newborn care among primary healthcare workers in Masindi, Uganda.
A cross-sectional study was conducted. Interviews comprised of 25 multiple-choice questions were administered to health workers who were deployed to offer prenatal and postnatal care in Masindi in November 2011. Questions were related to four domains of knowledge: prenatal care, immediate newborn care, management of neonatal infections and identifying and stabilizing Low-Birth Weight (LBW) babies. Corresponding composite variables were derived; level of knowledge among health workers dichotomized as ‘adequate’ or ‘inadequate’. The chi-square statistic test was used to examine associations with independent variables including level of training (nursing assistant, general nurse or midwife), level of care (hospital/health centre level IV or health centre level III/II) and years of service (five years or less, six years or more).
183 health workers were interviewed: general nurses (39.3%), midwives (21.9%) and nursing assistants (38.8%). Respectively, 53.6%, 46.5%, 7.1% and 56.3% were considered to have adequate knowledge in prenatal care, newborn care, management of neonatal infections and identifying/stabilizing LBW babies. Being a general nurse was significantly associated with having adequate knowledge in identifying and stabilizing LBW babies (p < 0.001) compared to being a nursing assistant. Level of care being hospital/health centre level IV was not significantly associated with having adequate knowledge in prenatal or newborn care with reference to health centres of level III/II.
Knowledge regarding prenatal and newborn care among primary healthcare workers in Masindi was very low. The highest deficit of knowledge was in management of neonatal infections. Efforts are needed to orientate health workers regarding prenatal and newborn care especially the offer of infection management among newborns. Similar levels of knowledge between health workers deployed to hospital/health centre level IV and health centres of level III/II raise important implementation questions for the referral system which is crucial for maternal and newborn survival.
PMCID: PMC3931348  PMID: 24511880
13.  Information, Education, and Communication Services in MCH Care Provided at an Urban Health Center 
Regular IEC programs during antenatal and intranatal period, through individual or group approach, brings desirable changes in health practices of people, resulting in a healthy mother and a healthy baby.
Materials and Methods:
This study was conducted to assess the level of IEC services regarding pregnancy and child care, received by the women at an MCH clinic of an urban health center, where the study subjects comprised 400 antenatal (AN) and postnatal (PN) women and mothers of children under five years.
Warning signs of danger was explained to only 10% of the AN and PN women. Advice regarding family planning appeared to be the most frequently covered, though that too was explained to less than half of the subjects. About one third of the women were advised on breast feeding. Only 8% of the mothers had been told about all issues regarding pregnancy and child care. Breast feeding and weaning was properly explained to 85.7 and 81.1% of the total mothers of U5 children. Advice regarding subsequent nutrition was given to 60.9% of mothers. About only a quarter of the total mothers were advised on home management of diarrhea and acute respiratory infections. Very few mothers were counseled about the growth pattern of the children and none were shown the growth chart. Only 12.9% of the mothers were informed about all issues.
IEC regarding maternal and child care other than feeding practices is a neglected service in the health facility where the study was conducted.
PMCID: PMC2822188  PMID: 20165621
Child care; IEC; MCH care
14.  Coverage, quality of and barriers to postnatal care in rural Hebei, China: a mixed method study 
Postnatal care is an important link in the continuum of care for maternal and child health. However, coverage and quality of postnatal care are poor in low- and middle-income countries. In 2009, the Chinese government set a policy providing free postnatal care services to all mothers and their newborns in China. Our study aimed at exploring coverage, quality of care, reasons for not receiving and barriers to providing postnatal care after introduction of this new policy.
We carried out a mixed method study in Zhao County, Hebei Province, China from July to August 2011. To quantify the coverage, quality of care and reasons for not using postnatal care, we conducted a household survey with 1601 caregivers of children younger than two years of age. We also conducted semi-structured interviews with 24 township maternal and child healthcare workers to evaluate their views on workload, in-service training and barriers to postnatal home visits.
Of 1442 (90% of surveyed caregivers) women who completed the postnatal care survey module, 8% received a timely postnatal home visit (within one week after delivery) and 24% of women received postnatal care within 42 days after delivery. Among women who received postnatal care, 37% received counseling or guidance on infant feeding and 32% on cord care. 24% of women reported that the service provider checked jaundice of their newborns and 18% were consulted on danger signs and thermal care of their newborns. Of 991 mothers who did not seek postnatal care within 42 days after birth, 65% of them said that they did not knew about postnatal care and 24% of them thought it was unnecessary. Qualitative findings revealed that staff shortages and inconvenient transportation limited maternal and child healthcare workers in reaching out to women at home. In addition, maternal and child healthcare workers said that in-service training was inadequate and more training on postnatal care, hands-on practice, and supervision were needed.
Coverage and quality of postnatal care were low in rural Hebei Province and far below the targets set by Chinese government. We identified barriers both from the supply and demand side.
PMCID: PMC3898028  PMID: 24438644
Postnatal care; Coverage; Quality; Mixed method study
15.  Staffing in postnatal units: is it adequate for the provision of quality care? Staff perspectives from a state-wide review of postnatal care in Victoria, Australia 
State-wide surveys of recent mothers conducted over the past decade in Victoria, one state of Australia, have identified that women are consistently less satisfied with the care they received in hospital following birth compared with other aspects of maternity care. Little is known of caregivers' perspectives on the provision ofhospital postnatal care: how care is organised and provided in different hospitals; what constrains the provision of postnatal care (apart from funding) and what initiatives are being undertaken to improve service delivery. A state-widereview of organisational structures and processes in relation to the provision of hospital postnatal care in Victoria was undertaken. This paper focuses on the impact of staffing issues on the provision of quality postnatal care from the perspective of care providers.
A study of care providers from Victorian public hospitals that provide maternity services was undertaken. Datawere collected in two stages. Stage one: a structured questionnaire was sent to all public hospitals in Victoria that provided postnatal care (n = 73), exploring the structure and organisation of care (e.g. staffing, routine observations, policy framework and discharge planning). Stage two: 14 maternity units were selected and invited to participate in a more in-depth exploration of postnatal care. Thirty-eight key informant interviews were undertaken with midwives (including unit managers, associate unit managers and clinical midwives) and a medical practitioner from eachselected hospital.
Staffing was highlighted as a major factor impacting on the provision of quality postnatal care. There were significant issues associated with inadequate staff/patient ratios; staffing mix; patient mix; prioritisation of birth suites over postnatal units; and the use of non-permanent staff. Forty-three percent of hospitals reported having only midwives (i.e. no non-midwives) providing postnatal care. Staffing issues impact on hospitals' ability to provide continuity of care. Recruitment and retention of midwives are significant issues, particularly in rural areas.
Staffing in postnatal wards is a challenging issue, and varies with hospital locality and model of care. Staff/patient ratios and recruitment of midwives in rural areas are the two areas that appear to have the greatest negative impact on staffing adequacy and provision of quality care. Future research on postnatal care provision should include consideration of any impact on staff and staffing.
PMCID: PMC1543626  PMID: 16817974
16.  A statewide review of postnatal care in private hospitals in Victoria, Australia 
Concerns have been raised in Australia and internationally regarding the quality and effectiveness of hospital postnatal care, although Australian women receiving postnatal care in the private maternity sector rate their satisfaction with care more highly than women receiving public maternity care. In Victoria, Australia, two-thirds of women receive their maternity care in the public sector and the remainder in private health care sector. A statewide review of public hospital postnatal care in Victoria from the perspective of care providers found many barriers to care provision including the busyness of postnatal wards, inadequate staffing and priority being given to other episodes of care; however the study did not include private hospitals. The aim of this study was replicate the review in the private sector, to explore the structure and organisation of postnatal care in private hospitals and identify those aspects of care potentially impacting on women's experiences and maternal and infant care. This provides a more complete overview of the organisational structures and processes in postnatal care in all Victorian hospitals from the perspective of care providers.
A mixed method design was used. A structured postal survey was sent to all Victorian private hospitals (n = 19) and key informant interviews were undertaken with selected clinical midwives, maternity unit managers and obstetricians (n = 11). Survey data were analysed using descriptive statistics and interview data analysed thematically.
Private hospital care providers report that postnatal care is provided in very busy environments, and that meeting the aims of postnatal care (breastfeeding support, education of parents and facilitating rest and recovery for women following birth) was difficult in the context of increased acuity of postnatal care; prioritising of other areas over postnatal care; high midwife-to-woman ratios; and the number and frequency of visitors. These findings were similar to the public review. Organisational differences in postnatal care were found between the two sectors: private hospitals are more likely to have a separate postnatal care unit with single rooms and can accommodate partners' over-night; very few have a policy of infant rooming-in; and most have well-baby nurseries. Private hospitals are also more likely to employ staff other than midwives, have fewer core postnatal staff and have a greater dependence on casual and bank staff to provide postnatal care.
There are similarities and differences in the organisation and provision of private postnatal care compared to postnatal care in public hospitals. Key differences between the two sectors relate to the organisational and aesthetic aspects of service provision rather than the delivery of postnatal care. The key messages emerging from both reviews is the need to review and monitor the adequacy of staffing levels and to develop alternative approaches to postnatal care to improve this episode of care for women and care providers alike. We also recommend further research to provide a greater evidence-base for postnatal care provision.
PMCID: PMC2891607  PMID: 20509888
17.  Barriers to using skilled birth attendants’ services in mid- and far-western Nepal: a cross-sectional study 
Skilled birth attendants (SBAs) provide important interventions that improve maternal and neonatal health and reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. However, utilization and coverage of services by SBAs remain poor, especially in rural and remote areas of Nepal. This study examined the characteristics associated with utilization of SBA services in mid- and far-western Nepal.
This cross-sectional study examined three rural and remote districts of mid- and far-western Nepal (i.e., Kanchanpur, Dailekh and Bajhang), representing three ecological zones (southern plains [Tarai], hill and mountain, respectively) with low utilization of services by SBAs. Enumerators assisted a total of 2,481 women. All respondents had delivered a baby within the past 12 months. We used bivariate and multivariate analyses to assess the association between antenatal and delivery care visits and the women’s background characteristics.
Fifty-seven percent of study participants had completed at least four antenatal care visits and 48% delivered their babies with the assistance of SBAs. Knowing the danger signs of pregnancy and delivery (e.g., premature labor, prolonged labor, breech delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, severe headache) associated positively with four or more antenatal care visits (OR = 1.71; 95% CI: 1.41-2.07). Living less than 30 min from a health facility associated positively with increased use of both antenatal care (OR = 1.44; 95% CI: 1.18-1.77) and delivery services (OR = 1.25; CI: 1.03-1.52). Four or more antenatal care visits was a determining factor for the utilization of SBAs.
Less than half of the women in our study delivered babies with the aid of SBAs, indicating a need to increase utilization of such services in rural and remote areas of Nepal. Distance from health facilities and inadequate transportation pose major barriers to the utilization of SBAs. Providing women with transportation funds before they go to a facility for delivery and managing transportation options will increase service utilization. Moreover, SBA utilization associates positively with women’s knowledge of pregnancy danger signs, wealth quintile, and completed antenatal care visits. Nepal’s health system must develop strategies that generate demand for SBAs and also reduce financial, geographic and cultural barriers to such services.
PMCID: PMC3878020  PMID: 24365039
Antenatal care; Delivery care; Utilization; Skilled birth attendant; Barrier; Nepal
18.  A qualitative study of the experiences and expectations of women receiving in-patient postnatal care in one English maternity unit 
Studies consistently highlight in-patient postnatal care as the area of maternity care women are least satisfied with. As part of a quality improvement study to promote a continuum of care from the birthing room to discharge home from hospital, we explored women's expectations and experiences of current in-patient care.
For this part of the study, qualitative data from semi-structured interviews were transcribed and analysed using content analyses to identify issues and concepts. Women were recruited from two postnatal wards in one large maternity unit in the South of England, with around 6,000 births a year.
Twenty women, who had a vaginal or caesarean birth, were interviewed on the postnatal ward. Identified themes included; the impact of the ward environment; the impact of the attitude of staff; quality and level of support for breastfeeding; unmet information needs; and women's low expectations of hospital based postnatal care. Findings informed revision to the content and planning of in-patient postnatal care, results of which will be reported elsewhere.
Women's responses highlighted several areas where changes could be implemented. Staff should be aware that how they inter-act with women could make a difference to care as a positive or negative experience. The lack of support and inconsistent advice on breastfeeding highlights that units need to consider how individual staff communicate information to women. Units need to address how and when information on practical aspects of infant care is provided if women and their partners are to feel confident on the woman's transfer home from hospital.
PMCID: PMC2978124  PMID: 20979605
19.  High ANC coverage and low skilled attendance in a rural Tanzanian district: a case for implementing a birth plan intervention 
In Tanzania, more than 90% of all pregnant women attend antenatal care at least once and approximately 62% four times or more, yet less than five in ten receive skilled delivery care at available health units. We conducted a qualitative study in Ngorongoro district, Northern Tanzania, in order to gain an understanding of the health systems and socio-cultural factors underlying this divergent pattern of high use of antenatal services and low use of skilled delivery care. Specifically, the study examined beliefs and behaviors related to antenatal, labor, delivery and postnatal care among the Maasai and Watemi ethnic groups. The perspectives of health care providers and traditional birth attendants on childbirth and the factors determining where women deliver were also investigated.
Twelve key informant interviews and fifteen focus group discussions were held with Maasai and Watemi women, traditional birth attendants, health care providers, and community members. Principles of the grounded theory approach were used to elicit and assess the various perspectives of each group of participants interviewed.
The Maasai and Watemi women's preferences for a home birth and lack of planning for delivery are reinforced by the failure of health care providers to consistently communicate the importance of skilled delivery and immediate post-partum care for all women during routine antenatal visits. Husbands typically serve as gatekeepers of women's reproductive health in the two groups - including decisions about where they will deliver- yet they are rarely encouraged to attend antenatal sessions. While husbands are encouraged to participate in programs to prevent maternal-to-child transmission of HIV, messages about the importance of skilled delivery care for all women are not given emphasis.
Increasing coverage of skilled delivery care and achieving the full implementation of Tanzania's Focused Antenatal Care Package in Ngorongoro depends upon improved training and monitoring of health care providers, and greater family participation in antenatal care visits.
PMCID: PMC2850322  PMID: 20302625
20.  Exploring the first delay: a qualitative study of home deliveries in Makwanpur district Nepal 
In many low-income countries women tend to deliver at home, and delays in receiving appropriate maternal care can be fatal. A contextual understanding of these delays is important if countries are to meet development targets for maternal health. We present qualitative research with women who delivered at home in rural Nepal, to gain a contemporary understanding of the context where we are testing the effectiveness of an intervention to increase institutional deliveries.
We purposively sampled women who had recently delivered at home and interviewed them to explore their reasons for home delivery. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic content analysis. We used the ‘delays’ model discussed in the literature to frame our analysis.
Usually a combination of factors prevented women from delivering in health institutions. Many women were aware of the benefits of institutional delivery yet their status in the home restricted their access to health facilities. Often they did not wish to bring shame on their family by going against their wishes, or through showing their body in a health institution. They often felt unable to demand the organisation of transportation because this may cause financial problems for their family. Some felt that government incentives were insufficient. Often, a lack of family support at the time of delivery meant that women delivered at home. Past bad experience, and poor quality health services, also prevented women from having an institutional delivery.
Formative research is important to develop an understanding of local context. Sociocultural issues, perceived accessibility of health services, and perceived quality of care were all important barriers preventing institutional delivery. Targeting one factor alone may not be effective in increasing institutional deliveries. Our intervention encourages communities to develop local responses to address the factors preventing institutional delivery through women’s groups and improved health facility management. We will monitor perceptions of health services over time to help us understand the effectiveness of the intervention.
PMCID: PMC3939637  PMID: 24576187
Formative; Context; Maternal; Newborn; Delay
21.  Postnatal women's experiences of management of depressive symptoms: a qualitative study 
The British Journal of General Practice  2010;60(580):e440-e448.
Postnatal depression is a public health problem requiring intervention. To provide effective care, information is needed on the experiences of those with high levels of depressive symptoms who are offered and accept, or decline, psychological intervention postnatally.
To provide the first integrated in-depth exploration of postnatal women's experiences of the identification and management of symptoms of depression and the offer and acceptance of postnatal care by health visitors taking part in the PoNDER trial.
General practice: primary care within the former Trent regional health authority, England.
Thirty women with 6-week Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) scores ≥18 and probable depression completed semi-structured interviews. All women had taken part in the Post-Natal Depression Economic Evaluation and Randomised controlled (PoNDER) trial where intervention group health visitors received training in identification of depressive symptoms and provided psychologically informed sessions based on cognitive-behavioural therapy or person-centred counselling principles.
When accepted, psychological sessions were experienced as positive, effective, and ‘ideal care’. Women approved of using the EPDS but did not understand the health visitor's role in supporting women. Seeking help and accepting sessions depended on women's perspectives of their health visitor as an individual.
Women's experience of their health visitors providing psychological sessions to help with postnatal depressive symptoms is highly positive. Women will better accept support from health visitors if they recognise their role in postnatal depression and find them easy to relate to on personal matters. There is a case for specific enhancement of interpersonal skills in health visiting, or alternatively offering a choice of health visitors to women.
PMCID: PMC2965991  PMID: 21062541
intervention; postnatal depression; primary health care; psychological
22.  Crying babies, tired mothers - challenges of the postnatal hospital stay: an interpretive phenomenological study 
According to an old Swiss proverb, "a new mother lazing in childbed is a blessing to her family". Today mothers rarely enjoy restful days after birth, but enter directly into the challenge of combining baby- and self-care. They often face a combination of infant crying and personal tiredness. Yet, routine postnatal care often lacks effective strategies to alleviate these challenges which can adversely affect family health. We explored how new mothers experience and handle postnatal infant crying and their own tiredness in the context of changing hospital care practices in Switzerland.
Purposeful sampling was used to enroll 15 mothers of diverse parity and educational backgrounds, all of who had given birth to a full term healthy neonate. Using interpretive phenomenology, we analyzed interview and participant observation data collected during the postnatal hospital stay and at 6 and 12 weeks post birth. This paper reports on the postnatal hospital experience.
Women's personal beliefs about beneficial childcare practices shaped how they cared for their newborn's and their own needs during the early postnatal period in the hospital. These beliefs ranged from an infant-centered approach focused on the infant's development of a basic sense of trust to an approach that balanced the infants' demands with the mother's personal needs. Getting adequate rest was particularly difficult for mothers striving to provide infant-centered care for an unsettled neonate. These mothers suffered from sleep deprivation and severe tiredness unless they were able to leave the baby with health professionals for several hours during the night.
New mothers often need permission to attend to their own needs, as well as practical support with childcare to recover from birth especially when neonates are fussy. To strengthen family health from the earliest stage, postnatal care should establish conditions which enable new mothers to balance the care of their infant with their own needs.
PMCID: PMC2879231  PMID: 20462462
23.  Reasons for poor adherence to antiretroviral therapy postnatally in HIV-1 infected women treated for their own health: experiences from the Mitra Plus study in Tanzania 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:450.
In a study of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) by triple antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (the Mitra Plus study), retrospective viral load testing revealed a high and increasing frequency of detectable viral load during follow-up for two years postnatally in women given continuous ART for their own health suggesting poor adherence. This study explored women’s own perceived barriers to adherence to ART post-delivery so as to identify ways to facilitate better drug adherence among women in need of ART for their own health.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 of the 48 women who had detectable viral load at 24 months postnatally. Content analysis was used to analyze the data.
Most women in the study did not acknowledge poor adherence until confronted with the viral load figures. Then, however, they revealed multiple reasons for failing to adhere. They said that their motivation to take ART decreased once they had protected their children from becoming infected and successfully weaned them. Feeling well for some, and a feeling of hopelessness for others, also decreased motivation to continue ART. The overwhelming demands of everyday life, poverty and lack of empowerment also posed significant barriers to long-term adherence. The need to keep their HIV status a secret and not let anyone see them taking the drugs was another steep barrier.
Reasons for postnatal failure to adhere by mothers put on ART for life during pregnancy included lack of motivation to continue ART after weaning the child, poverty and stigma. Projects that simultaneously address stigma, poverty and women’s lack of empowerment may be necessary for PMTCT and ART to reach their full potential. Our results indicate that the new WHO proposal to start all HIV-infected pregnant women on lifelong ART regardless of CD4 cell count needs to address the challenging realities of women in resource-poor contexts if it is to be successful.
PMCID: PMC3651864  PMID: 23647555
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission; Postnatal; Antiretroviral drugs; Adherence; Tanzania
24.  Postnatal depression in the community. 
The British Journal of General Practice  1998;48(428):1064-1066.
BACKGROUND: Postnatal depression affects 15% of all women derived. Good practice in antenatal and postnatal care suggests that regular contact should take place with members of the primary health care team (PHCT) but, despite this, many cases of postnatal depression are probably not detected. It is also widely perceived that depressed women consult more frequently about themselves and their babies, but it is not clear whether the number of contacts with the primary health care team as a whole reflects this. AIM: To determine whether the use of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPNDS) at postnatal examination would detect women not recognized as depressed by the PHCT. To determine whether the number of contacts with the PHCT could be used as a screening tool for postnatal depression. METHOD: The EPNDS was administered at postnatal examination to 176 women delivering their babies between 1 April 1995 and 31 October 1995. Contacts with PHCT members were recorded up to the 42nd day after delivery, together with their assessment of the subjects' mental health. RESULTS: Of 30 women scoring > or = 12 on the EPNDS, only 13 were perceived to be depressed by the PHCT. The team as a whole identified more depressed women than any individual professional group. There was no significant difference in the number of contacts made with professionals by women who were or were not depressed. Asian women were more likely to be depressed than women from other ethnic groups. CONCLUSION: Despite the PHCT as a whole identifying more depressed women than any individual group, more than half were not identified by professionals. Tools such as the EPNDS should be used routinely in primary care; there is an urgent need to validate the EPNDS for non-Caucasian women.
PMCID: PMC1410010  PMID: 9624748
25.  Factors associated with lack of postnatal care among Palestinian women: A cross-sectional study of three clinics in the West Bank 
Only about one-third of women in Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) obtain postpartum care. Therefore, the goal of this study was to assess factors associated with lack of postnatal care, women's reasons for not obtaining postnatal care, and their attitudes towards its importance.
In early 2006, a cross-sectional survey was conducted at three clinics run by the Ministry of Health providing Mother and Child Health Care in West Bank, Palestine. A total of 264 postpartum women attending the clinics were interviewed face-to-face, using a structured questionnaire.
Although the majority of women considered postnatal care necessary (66.1%), only 36.6% of women obtained postnatal care. The most frequent reason for not obtaining postnatal care was that women did not feel sick and therefore did not need postnatal care (85%), followed by not having been told by their doctor to come back for postnatal care (15.5%). Based on a multivariable analysis, use of postnatal care was higher among women who had experienced problems during their delivery, had a cesarean section, or had an instrumental vaginal delivery than among women who had a spontaneous vaginal delivery. Use of postnatal care was also higher among women who delivered in a private hospital as compared to those who delivered in a public hospital. In addition, we found regional differences.
The higher use of postnatal care among high-risk women is appropriate, but some clinically dangerous conditions can also occur in low-risk women. Future efforts should therefore focus on providing postnatal care to a larger number of low-risk women.
PMCID: PMC2499989  PMID: 18638395

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