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1.  Why Do Women Not Use Antenatal Services in Low- and Middle-Income Countries? A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001373.
In a synthesis of 21 qualitative studies representing the views of more than 1,230 women from 15 countries, Kenneth Finlayson and Soo Downe examine the reasons why many women in low- and middle-income countries do not receive adequate antenatal care.
Almost 50% of women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) don't receive adequate antenatal care. Women's views can offer important insights into this problem. Qualitative studies exploring inadequate use of antenatal services have been undertaken in a range of countries, but the findings are not easily transferable. We aimed to inform the development of future antenatal care programmes through a synthesis of findings in all relevant qualitative studies.
Methods and Findings
Using a predetermined search strategy, we identified robust qualitative studies reporting on the views and experiences of women in LMICs who received inadequate antenatal care. We used meta-ethnographic techniques to generate themes and a line-of-argument synthesis. We derived policy-relevant hypotheses from the findings. We included 21 papers representing the views of more than 1,230 women from 15 countries. Three key themes were identified: “pregnancy as socially risky and physiologically healthy”, “resource use and survival in conditions of extreme poverty”, and “not getting it right the first time”. The line-of-argument synthesis describes a dissonance between programme design and cultural contexts that may restrict access and discourage return visits. We hypothesize that centralised, risk-focused antenatal care programmes may be at odds with the resources, beliefs, and experiences of pregnant women who underuse antenatal services.
Our findings suggest that there may be a misalignment between current antenatal care provision and the social and cultural context of some women in LMICs. Antenatal care provision that is theoretically and contextually at odds with local contextual beliefs and experiences is likely to be underused, especially when attendance generates increased personal risks of lost family resources or physical danger during travel, when the promised care is not delivered because of resource constraints, and when women experience covert or overt abuse in care settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Although maternal deaths worldwide have almost halved since 1990, according to the latest figures, every day roughly 800 women and adolescent girls still die from the complications of pregnancy or childbirth: in 2010, 287,000 women died during or following pregnancy and childbirth, with almost all of these deaths (99%) occurring in low-resource settings. Most maternal deaths are avoidable, as the interventions to prevent or manage the most common complications (severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and unsafe abortion) are well known. Furthermore, many of these complications can be prevented, detected, or treated during antenatal care visits with trained health workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum of four antenatal visits per pregnancy, but according to WHO figures, between 2005 and 2010 only 53% of pregnant women worldwide attended the recommended four antenatal visits; in low-income countries, this figure was a disappointing 36%. Unfortunately, despite huge international efforts to promote and provide antenatal care, there has been little improvement in these statistics over the past decade. It is therefore important to investigate the reasons for poor antenatal attendance and to seek the views of users of antenatal care. In this study, the researchers combined studies from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that included women's views on antenatal care in a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies (qualitative research uses techniques, such as structured interviews, to gather an in-depth understanding of human behaviour, and a meta-synthesis combines and interprets information across studies, contexts, and populations).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched several medical, sociological, and psychological databases to find appropriate qualitative studies published between January 1980 and February 2012 that explored the antenatal care experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of women from LMICs who had chosen to access antenatal care late (after 12 weeks' gestation), infrequently (less than four times), or not at all. The researchers included 21 studies (out of the 2,997 initially identified) in their synthesis, representing the views of 1,239 women from 15 countries (Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda) who were either interviewed directly or gave their opinion as part of a focus group.
The researchers identified three main themes. The first theme reflects women's views that pregnancy is a healthy state and so saw little reason to visit health professionals when they perceived no risk to their well-being—the researchers called this theme, “pregnancy as socially contingent and physiologically healthy.” The second theme relates to women's limited financial resources, so that even when antenatal care was offered free of charge, the cost of transport to get there, the loss of earnings associated with the visit, and the possibility of having to pay for medicines meant that women were unable to attend—the researchers called this theme “resource use and survival in conditions of extreme poverty.” The third theme the researchers identified related to women's views that the antenatal services were inadequate and that the benefits of attending did not outweigh any potential harms. For example, pregnant women who initially recognized the benefits of antenatal care were often disappointed by the lack of resources they found when they got there and, consequently, decided not to return. The researchers called this theme “not getting it right the first time.”
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that there may be a misalignment between the principles that underpin the provision of antenatal care and the beliefs and socio-economic contexts of pregnant women in LMICs, meaning that even high-quality antenatal care may not be used by some pregnant women unless their views and concerns are addressed. The themes identified in this meta-synthesis could provide the basis for a new approach to the design and delivery of antenatal care that takes local beliefs and values and resource availability into account. Such programs might help ensure that antenatal care meets pregnant women's expectations and treats them appropriately so that they want to regularly attend antenatal care.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia describes antenatal care (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The World Health Organization has a wealth of information relating to pregnancy, including antenatal care
The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has evidence-based guidelines on antenatal care
The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood has a series of web pages and links relating to respectful maternity care in LMICs
International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics is an international organization with connections to various maternity initiatives in LMICs
International Confederation of Midwives has details of the Millennium Development Goals relating to maternity care
PMCID: PMC3551970  PMID: 23349622
2.  A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Psycho-Education Intervention by Midwives in Reducing Childbirth Fear in Pregnant Women 
Birth (Berkeley, Calif.)  2014;41(4):384-394.
Childbirth fear is associated with increased obstetric interventions and poor emotional and psychological health for women. The purpose of this study is to test an antenatal psycho-education intervention by midwives in reducing women's childbirth fear.
Women (n = 1,410) attending three hospitals in South East Queensland, Australia, were recruited into the BELIEF trial. Participants reporting high fear were randomly allocated to intervention (n = 170) or control (n = 169) groups. All women received a decision-aid booklet on childbirth choices. The telephone counseling intervention was offered at 24 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. The control group received usual care offered by public maternity services. Primary outcome was reduction in childbirth fear (WDEQ-A) from second trimester to 36 weeks’ gestation. Secondary outcomes were improved childbirth self-efficacy, and reduced decisional conflict and depressive symptoms. Demographic, obstetric & psychometric measures were administered at recruitment, and 36 weeks of pregnancy.
There were significant differences between groups on postintervention scores for fear of birth (p < 0.001) and childbirth self-efficacy (p = 0.002). Decisional conflict and depressive symptoms reduced but were not significant.
Psycho-education by trained midwives was effective in reducing high childbirth fear levels and increasing childbirth confidence in pregnant women. Improving antenatal emotional well-being may have wider positive social and maternity care implications for optimal childbirth experiences.
PMCID: PMC4257571  PMID: 25303111
childbirth fear; midwife counseling; psycho-education; childbirth self-efficacy; depression; decisional conflict; RCT
3.  Factors associated with breastfeeding at six months postpartum in a group of Australian women 
Despite high levels of breastfeeding initiation in Australia, only 47 percent of women are breastfeeding (exclusively or partially) six months later, with marked differences between social groups. It is important to identify women who are at increased risk of early cessation of breastfeeding.
Data from the three arms of a randomised controlled trial were pooled and analysed as a cohort using logistic regression to identify which factors predicted women continuing to feed any breast milk at six months postpartum. The original trial included 981 primiparous women attending a public, tertiary, women's hospital in Melbourne, Australia in 1999–2001. The trial evaluated the effect of two mid-pregnancy educational interventions on breastfeeding initiation and duration. In the 889 women with six month outcomes available, neither intervention increased breastfeeding initiation nor duration compared to standard care. Independent variables were included in the predictive model based on the literature and discussion with peers and were each tested individually against the dependent variable (any breastfeeding at six months).
Thirty-three independent variables of interest were identified, of which 25 qualified for inclusion in the preliminary regression model; 764 observations had complete data available. Factors remaining in the final model that were positively associated with breastfeeding any breast milk at six months were: a very strong desire to breastfeed; having been breastfed oneself as a baby; being born in an Asian country; and older maternal age. There was an increasing association with increasing age. Factors negatively associated with feeding any breast milk at six months were: a woman having no intention to breastfeed six months or more; smoking 20 or more cigarettes per day pre-pregnancy; not attending childbirth education; maternal obesity; having self-reported depression in the six months after birth; and the baby receiving infant formula while in hospital.
In addition to the factors commonly reported as being associated with breastfeeding in previous work, this study found a negative association between breastfeeding outcomes and giving babies infant formula in hospital, a high maternal body mass index, and self-reported maternal depression or anxiety in the six months after the baby was born. Interventions that seek to increase breastfeeding should consider focusing on women who wish to breastfeed but are at high risk of early discontinuation.
PMCID: PMC1635041  PMID: 17034645
4.  Effects of natural childbirth preparation versus standard antenatal education on epidural rates, experience of childbirth and parental stress in mothers and fathers: a randomised controlled multicentre trial 
Bjog  2009;116(9):1167-1176.
To examine the effects of antenatal education focussing on natural childbirth preparation with psychoprophylactic training versus standard antenatal education on the use of epidural analgesia, experience of childbirth and parental stress in first-time mothers and fathers.
Randomised controlled multicentre trial.
Fifteen antenatal clinics in Sweden between January 2006 and May 2007.
A total of 1087 nulliparous women and 1064 of their partners.
Natural group: Antenatal education focussing on natural childbirth preparation with training in breathing and relaxation techniques (psychoprophylaxis). Standard care group: Standard antenatal education focussing on both childbirth and parenthood, without psychoprophylactic training. Both groups: Four 2-hour sessions in groups of 12 participants during third trimester of pregnancy and one follow-up after delivery.
Main outcome measures
Epidural analgesia during labour, experience of childbirth as measured by the Wijma Delivery Experience Questionnaire (B), and parental stress measured by the Swedish Parenthood Stress Questionnaire.
The epidural rate was 52% in both groups. There were no statistically significant differences in the experience of childbirth or parental stress between the randomised groups, either in women or men. Seventy percent of the women in the Natural group reported having used psychoprophylaxis during labour. A minority in the Standard care group (37%) had also used this method, but subgroup analysis where these women were excluded did not change the principal findings.
Natural childbirth preparation including training in breathing and relaxation did not decrease the use of epidural analgesia during labour, nor did it improve the birth experience or affect parental stress in early parenthood in nulliparous women and men, compared with a standard form of antenatal education.
PMCID: PMC2759981  PMID: 19538406
Antenatal education; childbirth experience; parenthood; pregnancy; psychoprophylaxis
5.  A study to prolong breastfeeding duration: design and rationale of the Parent Infant Feeding Initiative (PIFI) randomised controlled trial 
Very few Australian infants are exclusively breastfed to 6 months as recommended by the World Health Organization. There is strong empirical evidence that fathers have a major impact on their partner’s decision to breastfeed and continuation of breastfeeding. Fathers want to participate in the breastfeeding decision making process and to know how they can support their partner to achieve their breastfeeding goals. The aim of the Parent Infant Feeding Initiative (PIFI) is to evaluate the effect on duration of any and exclusive breastfeeding of three breastfeeding promotion interventions of differing intensity and duration, targeted at couples but channelled through the male partner. The study will also undertake a cost-effectiveness evaluation of the interventions.
The PIFI study is a factorial randomised controlled trial. Participants will be mothers and their male partners attending antenatal classes at selected public and private hospitals with maternity departments in Perth, Western Australia. Fathers will be randomly allocated to either the usual care control group (CG), one of two medium intensity (MI1 and MI2) interventions, or a high intensity (HI) intervention. MI1 will include a specialised antenatal breastfeeding education session for fathers with supporting print materials. MI2 will involve the delivery of an antenatal and postnatal social support intervention delivered via a smartphone application and HI will include both the specialised antenatal class and the social support intervention. Outcome data will be collected from couples at baseline and at six and 26 weeks postnatally. A total of 1600 couples will be recruited. This takes into account a 25 % attrition rate, and will detect at least a 10 % difference in the proportion of mothers breastfeeding between any two of the groups at 26 weeks at 80 % power and 5 % level of significance, using a Log-rank survival test. Multivariable survival and logistic regression analyses will be used to assess the effect of the treatment groups on the outcomes after adjusting for covariates.
The PIFI study will be the first Australian study to provide Level II evidence of the impact on breastfeeding duration of a comprehensive, multi-level, male-partner-focused breastfeeding intervention. Unique features of the intervention include its large sample size, delivery of two of the interventions by mobile device technology, a rigorous assessment of intervention fidelity and a cost-effectiveness evaluation.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12614000605695. Registered 6 June 2014
PMCID: PMC4522088  PMID: 26231519
6.  Timing of antenatal care for adolescent and adult pregnant women in south-eastern Tanzania 
Early and frequent antenatal care attendance during pregnancy is important to identify and mitigate risk factors in pregnancy and to encourage women to have a skilled attendant at childbirth. However, many pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa start antenatal care attendance late, particularly adolescent pregnant women. Therefore they do not fully benefit from its preventive and curative services. This study assesses the timing of adult and adolescent pregnant women's first antenatal care visit and identifies factors influencing early and late attendance.
The study was conducted in the Ulanga and Kilombero rural Demographic Surveillance area in south-eastern Tanzania in 2008. Qualitative exploratory studies informed the design of a structured questionnaire. A total of 440 women who attended antenatal care participated in exit interviews. Socio-demographic, social, perception- and service related factors were analysed for associations with timing of antenatal care initiation using regression analysis.
The majority of pregnant women initiated antenatal care attendance with an average of 5 gestational months. Belonging to the Sukuma ethnic group compared to other ethnic groups such as the Pogoro, Mhehe, Mgindo and others, perceived poor quality of care, late recognition of pregnancy and not being supported by the husband or partner were identified as factors associated with a later antenatal care enrolment (p < 0.05). Primiparity and previous experience of a miscarriage or stillbirth were associated with an earlier antenatal care attendance (p < 0.05). Adolescent pregnant women started antenatal care no later than adult pregnant women despite being more likely to be single.
Factors including poor quality of care, lack of awareness about the health benefit of antenatal care, late recognition of pregnancy, and social and economic factors may influence timing of antenatal care. Community-based interventions are needed that involve men, and need to be combined with interventions that target improving the quality, content and outreach of antenatal care services to enhance early antenatal care enrolment among pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC3384460  PMID: 22436344
7.  Study protocol for reducing childbirth fear: a midwife-led psycho-education intervention 
Childbirth fear has received considerable attention in Scandinavian countries, and the United Kingdom, but not in Australia. For first-time mothers, fear is often linked to a perceived lack of control and disbelief in the body’s ability to give birth safely, whereas multiparous women may be fearful as a result of previous negative and/or traumatic birth experiences. There have been few well-designed intervention studies that test interventions to address women’s childbirth fear, support normal birth, and diminish the possibility of a negative birth experience.
Pregnant women in their second trimester of pregnancy will be recruited and screened from antenatal clinics in Queensland, Australia. Women reporting high childbirth fear will be randomly allocated to the intervention or control group. The psycho-educational intervention is offered by midwives over the telephone at 24 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. The intervention aims to review birth expectations, work through distressing elements of childbirth, discuss strategies to develop support networks, affirm that negative childbirth events can be managed and develop a birth plan. Women in the control group will receive standard care offered by the public funded maternity services in Australia. All women will receive an information booklet on childbirth choices. Data will be collected at recruitment during the second trimester, 36 weeks of pregnancy, and 4–6 weeks after birth.
This study aims to test the efficacy of a brief, midwife-led psycho-education counselling (known as BELIEF: Birth Emotions - Looking to Improve Expectant Fear) to reduce women’s childbirth fear. 1) Relative to controls, women receiving BELIEF will report lower levels of childbirth fear at term; 2) less decisional conflict; 3) less depressive symptoms; 4) better childbirth self-efficacy; and 5) improved health and obstetric outcomes.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Controlled Trials Registry ACTRN12612000526875.
PMCID: PMC3854500  PMID: 24139191
Pregnancy; Childbirth fear; Psycho-education; Midwife-led counselling; Randomised controlled trial; Postnatal depression; Decisional conflict; EQ-5D; Self-efficacy
8.  A prospective study of effects of psychological factors and sleep on obstetric interventions, mode of birth, and neonatal outcomes among low-risk British Columbian women 
Obstetrical interventions, including caesarean sections, are increasing in Canada. Canadian women’s psychological states, fatigue, and sleep have not been examined prospectively for contributions to obstetric interventions and adverse neonatal outcomes.
Context and purpose of the study: The prospective study was conducted in British Columbia (BC), Canada with 650 low-risk pregnant women. Of those women, 624 were included in this study. Women were recruited through providers’ offices, media, posters, and pregnancy fairs. We examined associations between pregnant women’s fatigue, sleep deprivation, and psychological states (anxiety and childbirth fear) and women’s exposure to obstetrical interventions and adverse neonatal outcomes (preterm, admission to NICU, low APGARS, and low birth weight).
Data from our cross-sectional survey were linked, using women’s personal health numbers, to birth outcomes from the Perinatal Services BC database. After stratifying for parity, we used Pearson’s Chi-square to examine associations between psychological states, fatigue, sleep deprivation and maternal characteristics. We used hierarchical logistic regression modeling to test 9 hypotheses comparing women with high and low childbirth fear and anxiety on likelihood of having epidural anaesthetic, a caesarean section (stratified for parity), assisted vaginal delivery, and adverse neonatal outcomes and women with and without sleep deprivation and high levels of fatigue on likelihood of giving birth by caesarean section, while controlling for maternal, obstetrical (e.g., infant macrosomia), and psychological variables.
Significantly higher proportions of multiparas, reporting difficult and upsetting labours and births, expectations of childbirth interventions, and health stressors, reported high levels of childbirth fear. Women who reported antenatal relationship, housing, financial, and health stressors and multiparas reporting low family incomes were significantly more likely to report high anxiety levels. The hypothesis that high childbirth fear significantly increased the risk of using epidural anaesthesia was supported.
Controlling for some psychological states and sleep quality while examining other contributors to outcomes decreases the likelihood of linking childbirth fear anxiety, sleep deprivation, and fatigue to increased odds of caesarean section. Ameliorating women’s childbirth fear to reduce their exposure to epidural anaesthesia can occur through developing effective interventions. These include helping multiparous women process previous experiences of difficult and upsetting labour and birth.
PMCID: PMC3449197  PMID: 22862846
Childbirth fear; Sleep deprivation; Fatigue; Anxiety; Obstetrical interventions; Neonatal outcomes
9.  A randomised controlled trial of caseload midwifery care: M@NGO (Midwives @ New Group practice Options) 
Australia has an enviable record of safety for women in childbirth. There is nevertheless growing concern at the increasing level of intervention and consequent morbidity amongst childbearing women. Not only do interventions impact on the cost of services, they carry with them the potential for serious morbidities for mother and infant.
Models of midwifery have proliferated in an attempt to offer women less fragmented hospital care. One of these models that is gaining widespread consumer, disciplinary and political support is caseload midwifery care. Caseload midwives manage the care of approximately 35-40 a year within a small Midwifery Group Practice (usually 4-6 midwives who plan their on call and leave within the Group Practice.) We propose to compare the outcomes and costs of caseload midwifery care compared to standard or routine hospital care through a randomised controlled trial.
A two-arm RCT design will be used. Women will be recruited from tertiary women's hospitals in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia. Women allocated to the caseload intervention will receive care from a named caseload midwife within a Midwifery Group Practice. Control women will be allocated to standard or routine hospital care. Women allocated to standard care will receive their care from hospital rostered midwives, public hospital obstetric care and community based general medical practitioner care. All midwives will collaborate with obstetricians and other health professionals as necessary according to the woman's needs.
Data will be collected at recruitment, 36 weeks antenatally, six weeks and six months postpartum by web based or postal survey. With 750 women or more in each of the intervention and control arms the study is powered (based on 80% power; alpha 0.05) to detect a difference in caesarean section rates of 29.4 to 22.9%; instrumental birth rates from 11.0% to 6.8%; and rates of admission to neonatal intensive care of all neonates from 9.9% to 5.8% (requires 721 in each arm). The study is not powered to detect infant or maternal mortality, however all deaths will be reported. Other significant findings will be reported, including a comprehensive process and economic evaluation.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12609000349246
PMCID: PMC3235961  PMID: 22029746
10.  Effectiveness of the professional who carries out the health education program: perinatal outcomes 
The purpose of this study was to determine whether a maternal education program conducted by midwives achieves better results in regard to maternal and newborn health than when the program is conducted by other health professionals.
Five hundred and twenty primiparous women attending four (two university) public hospitals in southern Spain in 2011 were recruited to participate in this prospective cohort study. Data on sociodemographic and obstetric variables and characteristics of newborns were collected by interviews and from clinical charts. Crude and logistic regression adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated.
A midwife was in charge of education for 75.4% of the 354 women who attended maternal education programs. Midwife-conducted programs had significantly more women attending more than three sessions than the programs conducted by other health professionals (aOR 2.85, 95% CI 1.60–5.11). Midwives achieved more active participation from mothers during delivery (aOR 1.96, 95% CI 1.15–3.33), more early skin-to-skin contact between the mother and newborn (aOR 1.79, 95% CI 1.01–3.23), more early breastfeeding (aOR 2.08, 95% CI 1.18–3.70), and fewer newborns with low birth weight (aOR 0.14, 95% CI 0.03–0.65) compared with other health professionals.
Midwives achieve better results than other health professionals in regard to the health of the mother and her newborn when they are in charge of the maternal education program.
PMCID: PMC3964154  PMID: 24672260
maternal education program; midwifery; childbirth; other health professionals
11.  Intrapartum epidural analgesia and breastfeeding: a prospective cohort study 
Anecdotal reports suggest that the addition of fentanyl (an opioid) to epidural analgesia for women during childbirth results in difficulty establishing breastfeeding. The aim of this paper is to determine any association between epidural analgesia and 1) breastfeeding in the first week postpartum and 2) breastfeeding cessation during the first 24 weeks postpartum.
A prospective cohort study of 1280 women aged ≥ 16 years, who gave birth to a single live infant in the Australian Capital Territory in 1997 was conducted. Women completed questionnaires at weeks 1, 8, 16 and 24 postpartum. Breastfeeding information was collected in each of the four surveys and women were categorised as either fully breastfeeding, partially breastfeeding or not breastfeeding at all. Women who had stopped breastfeeding since the previous survey were asked when they stopped.
In the first week postpartum, 93% of women were either fully or partially breastfeeding their baby and 60% were continuing to breastfeed at 24 weeks. Intrapartum analgesia and type of birth were associated with partial breastfeeding and breastfeeding difficulties in the first postpartum week (p < 0.0001). Analgesia, maternal age and education were associated with breastfeeding cessation in the first 24 weeks (p < 0.0001), with women who had epidurals being more likely to stop breastfeeding than women who used non-pharmacological methods of pain relief (adjusted hazard ratio 2.02, 95% CI 1.53, 2.67).
Women in this cohort who had epidurals were less likely to fully breastfeed their infant in the few days after birth and more likely to stop breastfeeding in the first 24 weeks. Although this relationship may not be causal, it is important that women at higher risk of breastfeeding cessation are provided with adequate breastfeeding assistance and support.
PMCID: PMC1702531  PMID: 17134489
12.  The association between attendance of midwives and workload of midwives with the mode of birth: secondary analyses in the German healthcare system 
The continuous rise in caesarean rates across most European countries raises multiple concerns. One factor in this development might be the type of care women receive during childbirth. ‘Supportive care during labour’ by midwives could be an important factor for reducing fear, tension and pain and decreasing caesarean rates. The presence and availability of midwives to support a woman in line with her needs are central aspects for ‘supportive care during labour’.
To date, there is no existing research on the influence of effective ‘supportive care’ by German midwives on the mode of birth. This study examines the association between the attendance and workload of midwives with the mode of birth outcomes in a population of low-risk women in a German multicentre sample.
The data are based on a prospective controlled multicentre trial (n = 1,238) in which the intervention ‘midwife-led care’ was introduced. Four German hospitals participated between 2007 and 2009.
Secondary analyses included a convenience sample of 999 low-risk women from the primary analyses who met the selection criterion ‘low-risk status’. Participation was voluntary. The association between the mode of birth and the key variables ‘attendance of midwives’ and ‘workload of midwives’ was assessed using backward logistic regression models.
The overall rate of spontaneous delivery was 80.7% (n = 763). The ‘attendance of midwives’ and the ‘workload of midwives’ did not exhibit a significant association with the mode of birth. However, women who were not satisfied with the presence of midwives (OR: 2.45, 95% CI 1.54-3.95) or who did not receive supportive procedures by midwives (OR: 3.01, 95% CI 1.50-6.05) were significantly more likely to experience operative delivery or a caesarean. Further explanatory variables include the type of hospital, participation in childbirth preparation class, length of stay from admission to birth, oxytocin usage and parity.
Satisfaction with the presence of and supportive procedures by midwives are associated with the mode of birth. The presence and behaviour of midwives should suit the woman’s expectations and fulfil her needs. For reasons of causality, we would recommend experimental or quasi-experimental research that would exceed the explorative character of this study.
PMCID: PMC4164747  PMID: 25178810
Midwife; Attendance; Workload; One-to-one; Supportive care; Intrapartum care; Continuity; Caesarean; Mode of birth; Operative delivery
13.  The Role of HIV-Related Stigma in Utilization of Skilled Childbirth Services in Rural Kenya: A Prospective Mixed-Methods Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001295.
Janet Turan and colleagues examined the role of the perception of women in rural Kenya of HIV-related stigma during pregnancy on their subsequent utilization of maternity services.
Childbirth with a skilled attendant is crucial for preventing maternal mortality and is an important opportunity for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The Maternity in Migori and AIDS Stigma Study (MAMAS Study) is a prospective mixed-methods investigation conducted in a high HIV prevalence area in rural Kenya, in which we examined the role of women's perceptions of HIV-related stigma during pregnancy in their subsequent utilization of maternity services.
Methods and Findings
From 2007–2009, 1,777 pregnant women with unknown HIV status completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire assessing their perceptions of HIV-related stigma before being offered HIV testing during their first antenatal care visit. After the visit, a sub-sample of women was selected for follow-up (all women who tested HIV-positive or were not tested for HIV, and a random sample of HIV-negative women, n = 598); 411 (69%) were located and completed another questionnaire postpartum. Additional qualitative in-depth interviews with community health workers, childbearing women, and family members (n = 48) aided our interpretation of the quantitative findings and highlighted ways in which HIV-related stigma may influence birth decisions. Qualitative data revealed that health facility birth is commonly viewed as most appropriate for women with pregnancy complications, such as HIV. Thus, women delivering at health facilities face the risk of being labeled as HIV-positive in the community. Our quantitative data revealed that women with higher perceptions of HIV-related stigma (specifically those who held negative attitudes about persons living with HIV) at baseline were subsequently less likely to deliver in a health facility with a skilled attendant, even after adjusting for other known predictors of health facility delivery (adjusted odds ratio = 0.44, 95% CI 0.22–0.88).
Our findings point to the urgent need for interventions to reduce HIV-related stigma, not only for improving quality of life among persons living with HIV, but also for better health outcomes among all childbearing women and their families.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Every year, nearly 350,000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. Almost all these “maternal” deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the maternal mortality ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 500 whereas in industrialized countries it is only 12. Most maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhage (severe bleeding after childbirth), post-delivery infections, obstructed (difficult) labor, and blood pressure disorders during pregnancy. All these conditions can be prevented if women have access to adequate reproductive health services and if trained health care workers are present during delivery. Notably, in sub-Saharan Africa, infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) is an increasingly important contributor to maternal mortality. HIV infection causes maternal mortality directly by increasing the occurrence of pregnancy complications and indirectly by increasing the susceptibility of pregnant women to malaria, tuberculosis, and other “opportunistic” infections—HIV-positive individuals are highly susceptible to other infections because HIV destroys the immune system.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although skilled delivery attendants reduce maternal mortality, there are many barriers to their use in developing countries including cost and the need to travel long distances to health facilities. Fears and experiences of HIV-related stigma and discrimination (prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV) may also be a barrier to the use of skilled childbirth service. Maternity services are prime locations for HIV testing and for the provision of interventions for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, so pregnant women know that they will have to “deal with” the issue of HIV when visiting these services. In this prospective mixed-methods study, the researchers examine the role of pregnant women's perceptions of HIV-related stigma in their subsequent use of maternity services in Nyanza Province, Kenya, a region where 16% women aged 15–49 are HIV-positive and where only 44.2% of mothers give birth in a health facility. A mixed-methods study combines qualitative data—how people feel about an issue—with quantitative data—numerical data about outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the Maternity in Migori and AIDS Stigma (MAMAS) study, pregnant women with unknown HIV status living in rural regions of Nyanza Province answered questions about their perceptions of HIV-related stigma before being offered HIV testing during their first antenatal clinic visit. After delivery, the researchers asked the women who tested HIV positive or were not tested for HIV and a sample of HIV-negative women where they had delivered their baby. They also gathered qualitative information about barriers to maternity and HIV service use by interviewing childbearing women, family members, and community health workers. The qualitative data indicate that labor in a health facility is commonly viewed as being most appropriate for women with pregnancy complications such as HIV infection. Thus, women delivering at health facilities risk being labeled as HIV positive, a label that the community associates with promiscuity. The quantitative data indicate that women with more negative attitudes about HIV-positive people (higher perceptions of HIV-related stigma) at baseline were about half as likely to deliver in a health facility with a skilled attendant as women with more positive attitudes about people living with HIV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that HIV-related stigma is associated with the low rate of delivery by skilled attendants in rural areas of Nyanza Province and possibly in other rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Community mobilization efforts aimed at increasing the use of PMTCT services may be partly responsible for the strong perception that delivery in a health facility is most appropriate for women with HIV and other pregnancy complications and may have inadvertently strengthened the perception that women who give birth in such facilities are likely to be HIV positive. The researchers suggest, therefore, that health messages should stress that delivery in a health facility is recommended for all women, not just HIV-positive women or those with pregnancy complications, and that interventions should be introduced to reduce HIV-related stigma. This combined strategy has the potential to increase the use of maternity services by all women and the use of HIV and PMTCT services, thereby reducing some of the most pressing health problems facing women and their children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides information on maternal mortality, including the WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA/World Bank 2008 country estimates of maternal mortality; a UNICEF special report tells the stories of seven mothers living with HIV in Lesotho
The World Health Organization provides information on maternal health, including information about Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to reduce maternal mortality (in several languages); the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000, are designed to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide by 2015
Immpact is a global research initiative for the evaluation of safe motherhood intervention strategies
Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis is a briefing paper published by the independent humanitarian medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in March 2012
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on women, HIV and AIDS, on HIV and pregnancy, on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination, and on HIV in Kenya (in English and Spanish); Avert also has personal stories from women living with HIV
The Stigma Action Network (SAN) is a collaborative endeavor that aims to comprehensively coordinate efforts to develop and expand program, research, and advocacy strategies for reducing HIV stigma worldwide, including mobilizing stakeholders, delivering program and policy solutions, and maximizing investments in HIV programs and services globally
The People Living with Stigma Index aims to address stigma relating to HIV and advocate on key barriers and issues perpetuating stigma; it has recently published Piecing it together for women and girls, the gender dimensions of HIV-related stigma
The Health Policy Project has prepared a review of the academic and programmatic literature on stigma and discrimination as barriers to achievement of global goals for maternal health and the elimination of new child HIV infections (see under Resources)
More information on the MAMAS study is available from the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies
PMCID: PMC3424253  PMID: 22927800
14.  Antenatal psychosomatic programming to reduce postpartum depression risk and improve childbirth outcomes: a randomized controlled trial in Spain and France 
Postpartum depression (PPD) and poor childbirth outcomes are associated with poverty; these variables should be addressed by an adapted approach. The aim of this research was to evaluate the impact of an antenatal programme based on a novel psychosomatic approach to pregnancy and delivery, regarding the risk of PPD and childbirth outcomes in disadvantaged women.
A multi-centre, randomized, controlled trial comparing a novel to standard antenatal programme. Primary outcome was depressive symptoms (using EPDS) and secondary outcome was preterm childbirth (fewer 37 weeks). The sample comprised 184 couples in which the women were identified to be at PPD risk by validated interview. The study was conducted in three public hospitals with comparable standards of perinatal care. Women were randomly distributed in to an experimental group (EG) or a control group (CG), and evaluated twice: during pregnancy (T1) and four weeks post-partum (T2). At T2, the variables were compared using the chi square test. Data analysis was based on intention to treat. The novel programme used the Tourné psychosomatic approach focusing on body awareness sensations, construction of an individualized childbirth model, and attachment. The 10 group antenatal sessions each lasted two hours, with one telephone conversation between sessions. In the control group, the participants choose the standard model of antenatal education, i.e., 8 to 10 two-hour sessions focused on childbirth by obstetrical prophylaxis.
A difference of 11.2% was noted in postpartum percentages of PPD risk (EPDS ≥ 12): 34.3% (24) in EG and 45.5% (27) in CG (p = 0.26). The number of depressive symptoms among EG women decreased at T2 (intragroup p = 0.01). Premature childbirth was four times less in EG women: three (4.4%) compared to 13 (22.4%) among CG women (p = 0.003). Birth weight was higher in EG women (p = 0.01).
The decrease of depressive symptoms in women was not conclusive. However, because birth weight was higher and the rate of preterm childbirth was lower in the EG, our results suggest that the psychosomatic approach may be more helpful to the target population than the standard antenatal programs.
PMCID: PMC3898772  PMID: 24422605
Postpartum depression; Psychosomatic approach; Pregnancy; Antenatal group preparation; Childbirth outcomes
15.  Fathers’ engagement in pregnancy and childbirth: evidence from a national survey 
Early involvement of fathers with their children has increased in recent times and this is associated with improved cognitive and socio-emotional development of children. Research in the area of father’s engagement with pregnancy and childbirth has mainly focused on white middle-class men and has been mostly qualitative in design. Thus, the aim of this study was to understand who was engaged during pregnancy and childbirth, in what way, and how paternal engagement may influence a woman’s uptake of services, her perceptions of care, and maternal outcomes.
This study involved secondary analysis of data on 4616 women collected in a 2010 national maternity survey of England asking about their experiences of maternity care, health and well-being up to three months after childbirth, and their partners’ engagement in pregnancy, labour and postnatally. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, chi-square, binary logistic regression and generalised linear modelling.
Over 80% of fathers were ‘pleased or ‘overjoyed’ in response to their partner’s pregnancy, over half were present for the pregnancy test, for one or more antenatal checks, and almost all were present for ultrasound examinations and for labour. Three-quarters of fathers took paternity leave and, during the postnatal period, most fathers helped with infant care. Paternal engagement was highest in partners of primiparous white women, those living in less deprived areas, and in those whose pregnancy was planned. Greater paternal engagement was positively associated with first contact with health professionals before 12 weeks gestation, having a dating scan, number of antenatal checks, offer and attendance at antenatal classes, and breastfeeding. Paternity leave was also strongly associated with maternal well-being at three months postpartum.
This study demonstrates the considerable sociodemographic variation in partner support and engagement. It is important that health professionals recognise that women in some sociodemographic groups may be less supported by their partner and more reliant on staff and that this may have implications for how women access care.
PMCID: PMC3607858  PMID: 23514133
Fathers; Pregnancy; Childbirth; Paternal engagement
16.  The Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth in Health Facilities Globally: A Mixed-Methods Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(6):e1001847.
Despite growing recognition of neglectful, abusive, and disrespectful treatment of women during childbirth in health facilities, there is no consensus at a global level on how these occurrences are defined and measured. This mixed-methods systematic review aims to synthesize qualitative and quantitative evidence on the mistreatment of women during childbirth in health facilities to inform the development of an evidence-based typology of the phenomenon.
Methods and Findings
We searched PubMed, CINAHL, and Embase databases and grey literature using a predetermined search strategy to identify qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies on the mistreatment of women during childbirth across all geographical and income-level settings. We used a thematic synthesis approach to synthesize the qualitative evidence and assessed the confidence in the qualitative review findings using the CERQual approach. In total, 65 studies were included from 34 countries. Qualitative findings were organized under seven domains: (1) physical abuse, (2) sexual abuse, (3) verbal abuse, (4) stigma and discrimination, (5) failure to meet professional standards of care, (6) poor rapport between women and providers, and (7) health system conditions and constraints. Due to high heterogeneity of the quantitative data, we were unable to conduct a meta-analysis; instead, we present descriptions of study characteristics, outcome measures, and results. Additional themes identified in the quantitative studies are integrated into the typology.
This systematic review presents a comprehensive, evidence-based typology of the mistreatment of women during childbirth in health facilities, and demonstrates that mistreatment can occur at the level of interaction between the woman and provider, as well as through systemic failures at the health facility and health system levels. We propose this typology be adopted to describe the phenomenon and be used to develop measurement tools and inform future research, programs, and interventions.
Meghan Bohren and colleagues review the extent and types of mistreatment against women during childbirth.
Editors' Summary
In 2000, as Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5, world leaders set a target of reducing the global maternal mortality ratio—the number of deaths among women caused by pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications (maternal deaths) per 100,000 live births—to a quarter of its 1990 level by 2015. MDG 5, along with seven other MDGs, was designed to alleviate extreme poverty by 2015. Although progress towards MDG 5 (and towards the other MDGs) has been good, in 2013, the global maternal mortality ratio was still 210, well above the target of 95. In that year alone, nearly 300,000 women, 99% them living in low- and middle-income countries, died from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. Most of these maternal deaths were caused by hemorrhage (severe bleeding) after childbirth, post-delivery infections, obstructed (difficult) labor, or blood pressure disorders during pregnancy. These conditions are largely preventable if women have access to good-quality reproductive health services and if trained birth attendants are present during childbirth.
Why Was This Study Done?
The rates of skilled birth attendance and of facility-based childbirth have risen in resource-limited countries over the past two decades, but almost a third of women in these countries still deliver without a skilled birth attendant. Among the numerous obstacles likely to prevent further increases in the proportion of women delivering in a health facility is women’s fear of mistreatment during delivery. Women need to be sure that they will receive dignified and respectful care during childbirth. Unfortunately, recent studies have indicated that women are often exposed to neglectful, abusive, and disrespectful care (care that local consensus regards as humiliating or undignified) during childbirth in health facilities. There is currently no consensus about how to define and measure the mistreatment of women during childbirth, so here, the researchers develop an evidence-based typology of the mistreatment of women during childbirth in health facilities worldwide by combining information identified in a mixed-methods systematic review. A typology is a systematic classification of objects or behaviors that have characteristics in common. A mixed-methods systematic review identifies all the qualitative and quantitative research on a given topic using predefined criteria. Qualitative research investigates how people feel about a medical intervention; quantitative research provides numerical data about interventions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 65 (mainly qualitative) studies undertaken in 34 countries that investigated the mistreatment of women during childbirth across all geographical and income-level settings. They analyzed the evidence presented in these studies using thematic analysis, an approach that identifies and organizes patterns (themes) within qualitative data. Based on this analysis, the researchers developed a typology of the mistreatment of women during childbirth consisting of seven domains (categories). These domains were physical abuse (for example, slapping or pinching during delivery); sexual abuse; verbal abuse such as harsh or rude language; stigma and discrimination based on age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or medical conditions; failure to meet professional standards of care (for example, neglect during delivery); poor rapport between women and providers, including ineffective communication, lack of supportive care, and loss of autonomy; and health system conditions and constraints such as the lack of the resources needed to provide women with privacy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings illustrate how women’s experiences of childbirth worldwide are marred by mistreatment. Moreover, they indicate that, although the mistreatment of women during delivery in health facilities often occurs at the level of the interaction between women and healthcare providers, systemic failures at the levels of the health facility and the health system also contribute to its occurrence. Further studies are needed to provide quantitative evidence of the burden of mistreatment of women during delivery and to identify the characteristics of health facilities that facilitate or mitigate the mistreatment of women. For now, though, the researchers call for the adoption of their evidence-based typology as a way to describe the mistreatment of women during childbirth in health facilities. Their typology, they suggest, could also be used to develop measurement tools and to design interventions that ensure that health care providers promote positive birth experiences by providing respectful, dignified, and supportive care to women during childbirth. Hopefully, such interventions will lead to more women deciding to deliver their babies in health facilities, will promote positive birth experiences, and, ultimately, will lead to further reductions in maternal deaths.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Rachel Jewkes and Loveday Penn-Kekana
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a statement on promoting the rights of women and access to safe, timely, respectful care during childbirth
The White Ribbon Alliance promotes the universal rights of childbearing women
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides information on maternal health and on the recent decline in maternal mortality
The World Health Organization provides information on maternal health, including information about Millennium Development Goal 5 (in several languages) and information about the prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during childbirth
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals and The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014, which details progress on reaching these goals, are available (in several languages)
Immpact is a research initiative for the evaluation of safe motherhood intervention strategies
Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis is a briefing paper that was published by the humanitarian medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières in 2012
Veil of Tears contains personal stories from Afghanistan about maternal death
More information is available on the CERQual approach for assessing confidence in the evidence from reviews of qualitative research
The Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group has published supplemental handbook guidance on qualitative evidence syntheses
Wikipedia has pages on thematic analysis and on systematic review (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC4488322  PMID: 26126110
17.  Effect of Facilitation of Local Maternal-and-Newborn Stakeholder Groups on Neonatal Mortality: Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001445.
Lars Åke Persson and colleagues conduct a cluster randomised control in northern Vietnam to analyze the effect of the activity of local community-based maternal-and-newborn stakeholder groups on neonatal mortality.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Facilitation of local women's groups may reportedly reduce neonatal mortality. It is not known whether facilitation of groups composed of local health care staff and politicians can improve perinatal outcomes. We hypothesised that facilitation of local stakeholder groups would reduce neonatal mortality (primary outcome) and improve maternal, delivery, and newborn care indicators (secondary outcomes) in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam.
Methods and Findings
In a cluster-randomized design 44 communes were allocated to intervention and 46 to control. Laywomen facilitated monthly meetings during 3 years in groups composed of health care staff and key persons in the communes. A problem-solving approach was employed. Births and neonatal deaths were monitored, and interviews were performed in households of neonatal deaths and of randomly selected surviving infants. A latent period before effect is expected in this type of intervention, but this timeframe was not pre-specified. Neonatal mortality rate (NMR) from July 2008 to June 2011 was 16.5/1,000 (195 deaths per 11,818 live births) in the intervention communes and 18.4/1,000 (194 per 10,559 live births) in control communes (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.96 [95% CI 0.73–1.25]). There was a significant downward time trend of NMR in intervention communes (p = 0.003) but not in control communes (p = 0.184). No significant difference in NMR was observed during the first two years (July 2008 to June 2010) while the third year (July 2010 to June 2011) had significantly lower NMR in intervention arm: adjusted OR 0.51 (95% CI 0.30–0.89). Women in intervention communes more frequently attended antenatal care (adjusted OR 2.27 [95% CI 1.07–4.8]).
A randomized facilitation intervention with local stakeholder groups composed of primary care staff and local politicians working for three years with a perinatal problem-solving approach resulted in increased attendance to antenatal care and reduced neonatal mortality after a latent period.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN44599712
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Over the past few years, there has been enormous international effort to meet the target set by Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds and to reduce the number of maternal deaths by three-quarters, respectively, from the 1990 level by 2015. There has been some encouraging progress and according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, in 2011, just under 7 million children aged under 5 years died, a fall of almost 3 million from a decade ago. However, currently, 41% of all deaths among children under the age of 5 years occur around birth and the first 28 days of life (perinatal and neonatal mortality). Simple interventions can substantially reduce neonatal deaths and there have been several international, national, and local efforts to implement effective care packages to help reduce the number of neonatal deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
In order for these interventions to be most effective, it is important that the local community becomes involved. Community mobilization, especially through local women's groups, can empower women to prioritize specific interventions to help improve their own health and that of their baby. An alternative strategy might be to mobilize people who already have responsibility to promote health and welfare in society, such as primary care staff, village health workers, and elected political representatives. However, it is unclear if the activities of such stakeholder groups result in improved neonatal survival. So in this study from northern Vietnam, the researchers analyzed the effect of the activity of local maternal-and-newborn stakeholder groups on neonatal mortality.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2008 and 2011, the researchers conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in 90 communes within the Quang Ninh province of northeast of Vietnam: 44 communes were allocated to intervention and 46 to the control. The local women's union facilitated recruitment to the intervention, local stakeholder groups (Maternal and Newborn Health Groups), which comprised primary care staff, village health workers, women's union representatives, and the person with responsibility for health in the commune. The groups' role was to identify and prioritize local perinatal health problems and implement actions to help overcome these problems.
Over the three-year period, the Maternal and Newborn Health Groups in the 44 intervention communes had 1,508 meetings. Every year 15–27 unique problems were identified and addressed 94–151 times. The problem-solving processes resulted in an annual number of 19–27 unique actions that were applied 297–649 times per year. The top priority problems and actions identified by these groups dealt with antenatal care attendance, post-natal visits, nutrition and rest during pregnancy, home deliveries, and breast feeding. Neonatal mortality in the intervention group did not change over the first two years but showed a significant improvement in the third year. The three leading causes of death were prematurity/low birth-weight (36%), intrapartum-related neonatal deaths (30%), and infections (15%). Stillbirth rates were 7.4 per 1,000 births in the intervention arm and 9.0 per 1,000 births in the control arm. There was one maternal death in the intervention communes and four in the control communes and there was a significant improvement in antenatal care attendance in the intervention arm. However, there were no significant differences between the intervention and control groups of other outcomes, including tetanus immunization, delivery preparedness, institutional delivery, temperature control at delivery, early initiation of breastfeeding, or home visit of a midwife during the first week after delivery.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that local stakeholder groups comprised of primary care staff and local politicians using a problem-solving approach may help to reduce the neonatal mortality rate after three years of implementation (although the time period for an expected reduction in neonatal mortality was not specified before the trial started) and may also increase the rate of antenatal care attendance. However, the intervention had no effect on other important outcomes such as the rate of institutional delivery and breast feeding. This study used a novel approach of community-based activity that was implemented into the public sector system at low cost. A further reduction in neonatal deaths around delivery might be achieved by neonatal resuscitation training and home visits to the mother and her baby.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides comprehensive statistics on neonatal mortality
The Healthy Newborn Network has information on community interventions to help reduce neonatal mortality from around the world
PMCID: PMC3653802  PMID: 23690755
18.  Effectiveness of policy to provide breastfeeding groups (BIG) for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in primary care: cluster randomised controlled trial 
Objective To assess the clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of a policy to provide breastfeeding groups for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial with prospective mixed method embedded case studies to evaluate implementation processes.
Setting Primary care in Scotland.
Participants Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and babies registered with 14 of 66 eligible clusters of general practices (localities) in Scotland that routinely collect breastfeeding outcome data.
Intervention Localities set up new breastfeeding groups to provide population coverage; control localities did not change group activity.
Main outcome measures Primary outcome: any breast feeding at 6-8 weeks from routinely collected data for two pre-trial years and two trial years. Secondary outcomes: any breast feeding at birth, 5-7 days, and 8-9 months; maternal satisfaction.
Results Between 1 February 2005 and 31 January 2007, 9747 birth records existed for intervention localities and 9111 for control localities. The number of breastfeeding groups increased from 10 to 27 in intervention localities, where 1310 women attended, and remained at 10 groups in control localities. No significant differences in breastfeeding outcomes were found. Any breast feeding at 6-8 weeks declined from 27% to 26% in intervention localities and increased from 29% to 30% in control localities (P=0.08, adjusted for pre-trial rate). Any breast feeding at 6-8 weeks increased from 38% to 39% in localities not participating in the trial. Women who attended breastfeeding groups were older (P<0.001) than women initiating breast feeding who did not attend and had higher income (P=0.02) than women in the control localities who attended postnatal groups. The locality cost was £13 400 (€14 410; $20 144) a year.
Conclusion A policy for providing breastfeeding groups in relatively deprived areas of Scotland did not improve breastfeeding rates at 6-8 weeks. The costs of running groups would be similar to the costs of visiting women at home.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN44857041.
PMCID: PMC2635594  PMID: 19181729
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.  Effect of Educational Intervention on Self-efficacy for Choosing Delivery Method among Pregnant Women in 2013 
Nowadays, there has been a growing trend of caesarean sections in Iran. One reason would be the mother's desire. Increased maternal self-efficacy can be an important step to reduce percentage of cesarean. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of training-based strategies to increase the self-efficacy for choosing delivery method among pregnant women in Shahrekord city.
This quasi-experimental study was conducted on 130 pregnant women who attended urban health centers in Shahrekord city in 2013. Intervention was applied in the experimental group in three sessions in about 60-90 min while control group did not receive any intervention. Fear of childbirth and self-efficacy questionnaire was completed before and after training.
While mean scores of the fear of childbirth, expectations and childbirth self-efficacy before the intervention between the two groups were not significantly different (P > 0.05), mean scores of childbirth in intervention group was reduced and expectation and childbirth self-efficacy had a significant increase after intervention (P < 0.05). In this study, 71.4% of mothers in intervention group and 53.8% of control mothers naturally delivered their children. Most of intervention group mothers desired to deliver through cesarean and had more fear (P < 0.001) but lower childbirth expectation (P > 0.05) and self-efficacy (P < 0.001) than those who chose normal method.
Our findings showed that training-based self-efficacy procedure has been effective in encouraging mothers to choose natural childbirth. Therefore, the design and implementation of curriculum-based strategies for increasing self-efficacy is suggested for pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC4223943  PMID: 25400882
Cesarean delivery; efficacy; elective cesarean; natural delivery
21.  Treatment of severe fear of childbirth with haptotherapy: design of a multicenter randomized controlled trial 
About six percent of pregnant women suffer from severe fear of childbirth. These women are at increased risk of obstetric labour and delivery interventions and pre- and postpartum complications, e.g., preterm delivery, emergency caesarean section, caesarean section at maternal request, severe postpartum fear of childbirth and trauma anxiety. During the last decade, there is increasing clinical evidence suggesting that haptotherapy might be an effective intervention to reduce fear of childbirth in pregnant women. The present study has been designed to evaluate the effects of such intervention.
Included are singleton pregnant women with severe fear of childbirth, age ≥ 18 year, randomised into three arms: (1) treatment with haptotherapy, (2) internet psycho-education or (3) care as usual. The main study outcome is fear of childbirth. Measurements are taken at baseline in gestation week 20–24, directly after the intervention is completed in gestation week 36, six weeks postpartum and six months postpartum. Secondary study outcomes are distress, general anxiety, depression, somatization, social support, mother-child bonding, pregnancy and delivery complications, traumatic anxiety symptoms, duration of delivery, birth weight, and care satisfaction.
The treatment, a standard haptotherapeutical treatment for pregnant women with severe fear of childbirth, implies teaching a combination of skills in eight one hour sessions. The internet group follows an eight-week internet course containing information about pregnancy and childbirth comparable to childbirth classes. The control group has care as usual according to the standards of the Royal Dutch Organisation of Midwives and the Dutch Organization of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Trial registration
This trial was entered in the Dutch Trial Register and registered under number NTR3339 on March 4th, 2012.
PMCID: PMC4209021  PMID: 25293834
Pregnant women; Fear of childbirth; Haptotherapy; Treatment; Delivery; Anxiety; Well-being; Childbirth outcomes
22.  Should obstetricians see women with normal pregnancies? A multicentre randomised controlled trial of routine antenatal care by general practitioners and midwives compared with shared care led by obstetricians. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;312(7030):554-559.
OBJECTIVE--To compare routine antenatal care provided by general practitioners and midwives with obstetrician led shared care. DESIGN--Multicentre randomised controlled trial. SETTING--51 general practices linked to nine Scottish maternity hospitals. SUBJECTS--1765 women at low risk of antenatal complications. INTERVENTION--Routine antenatal care by general practitioners and midwives according to a care plan and protocols for managing complications. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Comparisons of health service use, indicators of quality of care, and women's satisfaction. RESULTS--Continuity of care was improved for the general practitioner and midwife group as the number of carers was less (median 5 carers v 7 for shared care group, P<0.0001) and the number of routine visits reduced (10.9 v 11.7, P<0.0001). Fewer women in the general practitioner and midwife group had antenatal admissions (27% (222/834) v 32% (266/840), P<0.05), non-attendances (7% (57) v 11% (89), P<0.01) and daycare (12% (102) v 7% (139), P<0.05) but more were referred (49% (406) v 36% (305), P<0.0001). Rates of antenatal diagnoses did not differ except that fewer women in the general practitioner and midwife group had hypertensive disorders (pregnancy induced hypertension, 5% (37) v 8% (70), P<0.01) and fewer had labour induced (18% (149) v 24% (201), P<0.01). Few failures to comply with the care protocol occurred, but more Rhesus negative women in the general practitioner and midwife group did not have an appropriate antibody check (2.5% (20) v 0.4% (3), P<0.0001). Both groups expressed high satisfaction with care (68% (453/663) v 65% (430/656), P=0.5) and acceptability of allocated style of care (93% (618) v 94% (624), P=0.6). Access to hospital support before labour was similar (45% (302) v 48% (312) visited labour rooms before giving birth, P=0.6). CONCLUSION--Routine specialist visits for women initially at low risk of pregnancy complications offer little or no clinical or consumer benefit.
PMCID: PMC2350348  PMID: 8595287
23.  Quality of midwifery led care: assessing the effects of different models of continuity for women's satisfaction 
Quality in Health Care : QHC  1998;7(2):77-82.
BACKGROUND: Changing Childbirth (1993), a report on the future of maternity services in the United Kingdom, endorsed the development of a primarily community based midwifery led service for normal pregnancy, with priority given to the provision of "woman centred care". This has led to the development of local schemes emphasising continuity of midwifery care and increased choice and control for women. AIMS: To compare two models of midwifery group practices (shared caseload and personal caseload) in terms of: (a) the extent to which women see the same midwife antenatally and know the delivery midwife, and (b) women's preference for continuity and satisfaction with their care. METHODS: A review of maternity case notes and survey of a cohort of women at 36 weeks of gestation and 2 weeks postpartum who attended the two midwifery group practices. Questionnaires were completed by 247 women antenatally (72% response) and 222 (68%) postnatally. Outcome measures were the level of continuity experienced during antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care, women's preferences for continuity of carer, and ratings of satisfaction with care. RESULTS: The higher level of antenatal continuity of carer with personal caseload midwifery was associated with a lower percentage having previously met their main delivery midwife (60% v 74%). Women's preferences for antenatal continuity were significantly associated with their experiences. Postnatal rating of knowing the delivery midwife as "very important indeed" was associated with both previous antenatal ratings of its importance, and women's actual experiences. Personal continuity of carer was not a clear predictor of women's satisfaction with care. Of greater importance were women's expectations, their relations with midwives, communication, and involvement in decision making. CONCLUSIONS: Midwifery led schemes based on both shared and personal caseloads are acceptable to women. More important determinants of quality and women's satisfaction are the ethos of care consistency of care, good communication, and participation in decisions.
PMCID: PMC2483588  PMID: 10180794
24.  A complex breastfeeding promotion and support intervention in a developing country: study protocol for a randomized clinical trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:36.
Breastfeeding has countless benefits to mothers, children and community at large, especially in developing countries. Studies from Lebanon report disappointingly low breastfeeding exclusivity and continuation rates. Evidence reveals that antenatal breastfeeding education, professional lactation support, and peer lay support are individually effective at increasing breastfeeding duration and exclusivity, particularly in low-income settings. Given the complex nature of the breastfeeding ecosystem and its barriers in Lebanon, we hypothesize that a complex breastfeeding support intervention, which is centered on the three components mentioned above, would significantly increase breastfeeding rates.
A multi-center randomized controlled trial. Study population: 443 healthy pregnant women in their first trimester will be randomized to control or intervention group. Intervention: A “prenatal/postnatal” professional and peer breastfeeding support package continuing till 6 months postpartum, guided by the Social Network and Social Support Theory. Control group will receive standard prenatal and postnatal care. Mothers will be followed up from early pregnancy till five years after delivery. Outcome measures: Total and exclusive breastfeeding rates, quality of life at 1, 3 and 6 months postpartum, maternal breastfeeding knowledge and attitudes at 6 months postpartum, maternal exclusive breastfeeding rates of future infants up to five years from baseline, cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses of the intervention. Statistical analysis: Descriptive and regression analysis will be conducted under the intention to treat basis using the most recent version of SPSS.
Exclusive breastfeeding is a cost-effective public health measure that has a significant impact on infant morbidity and mortality. In a country with limited healthcare resources like Lebanon, developing an effective breastfeeding promotion and support intervention that is easily replicated across various settings becomes a priority. If positive, the results of this study would provide a generalizable model to bolster breastfeeding promotion efforts and contribute to improved child health in Lebanon and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN17875591
PMCID: PMC3898488  PMID: 24428951
Breastfeeding; Lay support; Cost analysis; Lactation support; Knowledge; Attitudes; Social network; Social support theory
25.  Breastfeeding practice and associated factors among female nurses and midwives at North Gondar Zone, Northwest Ethiopia: a cross-sectional institution based study 
Health care workers have a duty to promote and support breastfeeding among their clients. Although their ability to do this may be influenced by their knowledge and personal experience; little is known about breastfeeding practices and the perceived barriers. The objective of this study was to assess the breastfeeding practices and the associated factors among female nurses and midwives in North Gondar Zone; Northwest Ethiopia.
An institution based cross-sectional study design was conducted in 2013 among 178 nurses and midwives. In this study exclusive breastfeeding refers to breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a child’s life. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions were performed to identify the presence and strength of association. Odds ratios with 95% confidence interval were computed to determine the level of significance.
Exclusive breastfeeding rate among respondents was found to be 35.9%. Nearly half (49.4%) of the respondents exclusively breastfed for only 3 months or less. The mean duration exclusive breastfeeding was 4.1 ± 1.7 months. Older women (AOR = 2.8; 95% CI 2.16, 3.24), rural residence (AOR = 3.01; 95% CI 2.65, 3.84), being midwife (AOR = 2.01; 95% CI 1.83, 2.56), a women who gave birth through vaginal delivery (AOR = 2.0; 95% CI 1.68, 2.87), multiparous women (AOR = 2.20; 95% CI 1.74, 2.67) and resumption of work after 3 months (AOR = 1.61; 95% CI 1.24, 2.35) were independently associated with exclusive breastfeeding.
Though respondents had adequate knowledge on breastfeeding, the practice of exclusive breastfeeding was low. Maternal age, place of residence, profession, mode of delivery, parity and the time before resuming work were factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding. Appropriate education concerning breastfeeding, directed at nurses and midwives is required to enhance exclusive breastfeeding and duration of breastfeeding.
PMCID: PMC4107598  PMID: 25057283
Exclusive breastfeeding; Nurses and midwives; North Gondar Zone

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