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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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001373.
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001373
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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1111/birt.12136
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 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1746-4358-1-18
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.
Objective
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.
Design
Randomised controlled multicentre trial.
Setting
Fifteen antenatal clinics in Sweden between January 2006 and May 2007.
Sample
A total of 1087 nulliparous women and 1064 of their partners.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2009.02144.x
PMCID: PMC2759981  PMID: 19538406
Antenatal education; childbirth experience; parenthood; pregnancy; psychoprophylaxis
5.  Study protocol for reducing childbirth fear: a midwife-led psycho-education intervention 
Background
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.
Methods/design
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.
Discussion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-190
PMCID: PMC3854500  PMID: 24139191
Pregnancy; Childbirth fear; Psycho-education; Midwife-led counselling; Randomised controlled trial; Postnatal depression; Decisional conflict; EQ-5D; Self-efficacy
6.  Timing of antenatal care for adolescent and adult pregnant women in south-eastern Tanzania 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-16
PMCID: PMC3384460  PMID: 22436344
7.  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 
Background
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).
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-78
PMCID: PMC3449197  PMID: 22862846
Childbirth fear; Sleep deprivation; Fatigue; Anxiety; Obstetrical interventions; Neonatal outcomes
8.  Intrapartum epidural analgesia and breastfeeding: a prospective cohort study 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1746-4358-1-24
PMCID: PMC1702531  PMID: 17134489
9.  Effectiveness of the professional who carries out the health education program: perinatal outcomes 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.2147/IJWH.S59126
PMCID: PMC3964154  PMID: 24672260
maternal education program; midwifery; childbirth; other health professionals
10.  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.
Background
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).
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001295.
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 http://www.healthpolicyproject.com 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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001295
PMCID: PMC3424253  PMID: 22927800
11.  Antenatal psychosomatic programming to reduce postpartum depression risk and improve childbirth outcomes: a randomized controlled trial in Spain and France 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-22
PMCID: PMC3898772  PMID: 24422605
Postpartum depression; Psychosomatic approach; Pregnancy; Antenatal group preparation; Childbirth outcomes
12.  A randomised controlled trial of caseload midwifery care: M@NGO (Midwives @ New Group practice Options) 
Background
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.
Methods/design
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.
Discussion
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
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-82
PMCID: PMC3235961  PMID: 22029746
13.  Fathers’ engagement in pregnancy and childbirth: evidence from a national survey 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-70
PMCID: PMC3607858  PMID: 23514133
Fathers; Pregnancy; Childbirth; Paternal engagement
14.  The association between attendance of midwives and workload of midwives with the mode of birth: secondary analyses in the German healthcare system 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-300
PMCID: PMC4164747  PMID: 25178810
Midwife; Attendance; Workload; One-to-one; Supportive care; Intrapartum care; Continuity; Caesarean; Mode of birth; Operative delivery
15.  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.
doi:10.1136/bmj.a3026
PMCID: PMC2635594  PMID: 19181729
16.  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
Background
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]).
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001445.
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001445
PMCID: PMC3653802  PMID: 23690755
17.  High ANC coverage and low skilled attendance in a rural Tanzanian district: a case for implementing a birth plan intervention 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-13
PMCID: PMC2850322  PMID: 20302625
18.  Effect of Educational Intervention on Self-efficacy for Choosing Delivery Method among Pregnant Women in 2013 
Background:
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.
Methods:
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.
Results:
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.
Conclusions:
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
19.  Treatment of severe fear of childbirth with haptotherapy: design of a multicenter randomized controlled trial 
Background
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.
Methods/Design
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.
Discussion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-385
PMCID: PMC4209021  PMID: 25293834
Pregnant women; Fear of childbirth; Haptotherapy; Treatment; Delivery; Anxiety; Well-being; Childbirth outcomes
20.  Haematological Safety of Perinatal Zidovudine in Pregnant HIV-1–Infected Women in Thailand: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Trial 
PLoS Clinical Trials  2007;2(4):e11.
Objectives:
To respond to the primary safety objective of the Perinatal HIV Prevention Trial 1 (PHPT-1) by studying the evolution of haematological parameters according to zidovudine exposure duration in HIV-1−infected pregnant women.
Design:
Multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of different durations of zidovudine prophylaxis.
Setting:
27 hospitals in Thailand.
Participants:
1,436 HIV-infected pregnant women in PHPT-1.
Intervention:
Zidovudine prophylaxis initiation at 28 or 35 wk gestation.
Outcome measures:
Haemoglobin level, leucocytes, total lymphocyte counts, and absolute neutrophil counts were measured at 26, 32, and 35 wk and at delivery. The evolution of haematological parameters was estimated between 26 and 35 wk (zidovudine/placebo) and between 35 wk and delivery to compare a long versus short zidovudine exposure. For each parameter, linear mixed models were adjusted on baseline sociodemographic variables, HIV clinical stage, CD4 count, and viral load.
Results:
Between 26 and 35 wk, haemoglobin, leucocytes, and absolute neutrophil counts decreased in zidovudine-exposed compared to unexposed women (mean difference [95% CI] −0.4 [−0.5 to −0.3], −423 [−703 to −142], −485 [−757 to −213], respectively). However, between 35 wk and delivery, the haematological parameters increased faster in women exposed to long rather than short durations of zidovudine (0.1 [0.0 to 0.1]; 105 [18 to 191]; 147 [59 to 234], respectively). At delivery, the differences were not statistically significant, except for mean haemoglobin level, which remained slightly lower in the long zidovudine treatment group (difference: 0.2 g/dl). Zidovudine had no negative impact on the absolute lymphocyte counts.
Conclusion:
Zidovudine initiated at 28 wk gestation rather than 35 wk had a transient negative impact on the evolution of haematological parameters, which was largely reversed by delivery despite continuation of zidovudine. This result provides reassurance about the safety of early initiation of zidovudine prophylaxis during pregnancy to maximize prevention of perinatal HIV.
Editorial Commentary
Background: Pregnant women who are infected with HIV are at high risk of passing on the virus to their unborn baby during pregnancy, labour, and breastfeeding. Around 15%–30% of babies born to HIV-positive women will themselves become infected, if the woman avoids breast-feeding but does not use any other means of preventing the virus from being passed on. However, if a drug, zidovudine (AZT), is given during pregnancy the chance of HIV being passed on to a baby drops from around 23% to around 8%. In some settings it may not be realistic to give the standard course of zidovudine, from 28 weeks of pregnancy, because of its cost and complexity. A number of trials have therefore looked at whether standard-course and short-course zidovudine are equivalent at reducing the risk of passing on HIV from mother to baby. One trial, the Perinatal HIV Prevention Trial-1 (PHPT-1) found that the short treatment course was substantially less effective at preventing HIV from being passed on from mother to baby. Current international guidance therefore recommends starting zidovudine at 28 weeks of pregnancy. However, zidovudine does have several side effects, including anemia; it can also cause a drop in the levels of certain types of white blood cell, and is thought to be toxic to bone marrow. The researchers who had carried out the PHPT-1 trial therefore wanted to do a subsequent analysis of data from that trial to find out whether there were any differences in these safety outcomes between standard and short course zidovudine.
What the trial shows: In total 1,436 women were recruited into the trial and assigned to receive either zidovudine from 28 weeks of pregnancy until delivery (standard course; 769 women), or from 35 weeks to delivery (short course; 667). Blood tests were performed at 26, 32, and 35 weeks of pregnancy and then at delivery, and the main outcomes assessed in this secondary analysis were the hemoglobin levels (to check for anemia), and levels of white blood cells, including the levels of two particular types (neutrophils and lymphocytes). The researchers found that standard-course zidovudine resulted in a drop at 35 weeks in the levels of hemoglobin and white blood cells, relative to short-course zidovudine. However, by the time of delivery these levels had recovered and no significant differences could be observed between the two arms of the trial. Women receiving standard-course zidovudine were more likely to experience severe anemia, which although a rare event in both arms of the trial, could have serious outcomes.
Strengths and limitations: The original trial from which these data were collected was a relatively large, randomized study and in which there was a low rate of loss to follow up. Although no formal sample size calculation was performed for the analyses presented here, the study probably had sufficient power to detect small differences in the outcomes assessed. A key limitation of this study is that the analyses presented here are a secondary exploration of data from the PHPT-1 trial and should therefore be seen as hypotheses to test in further studies, rather than as definitive conclusions.
Contribution to the evidence: The analyses presented here add to the findings of the parent trial, PHPT-1, by providing additional data about the toxicity of zidovudine. Other trials have not clearly established whether there are differences between short- and standard-course zidovudine in terms of their toxicity. The findings support current guidelines recommending standard-course zidovudine therapy for HIV-positive pregnant women. It is also crucial that efforts are made to ensure women worldwide can get access to facilities for monitoring the status of their HIV infection, and then receive highly active antiretroviral therapy when it is needed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pctr.0020011
PMCID: PMC1863515  PMID: 17476315
21.  A complex breastfeeding promotion and support intervention in a developing country: study protocol for a randomized clinical trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:36.
Background
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.
Methods/Design
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.
Discussion
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
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-36
PMCID: PMC3898488  PMID: 24428951
Breastfeeding; Lay support; Cost analysis; Lactation support; Knowledge; Attitudes; Social network; Social support theory
22.  Prevalence of gestational diabetes and associated maternal and neonatal complications in a fast-developing community: global comparisons 
Background
The prevalence of gestational diabetes (GDM) is increasing all over the world. Hence, the impact of GDM on maternal and infant health is an important topic of research. No study has been conducted in Qatar to evaluate the outcome of pregnancies complicated by diabetes mellitus.
Objective
The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of GDM, compare the maternal–neonatal complications among women with GDM and non-GDM pregnant women, and investigate the risk factors and potential outcomes associated with GDM.
Design
This is a prospective cohort study.
Setting
The survey was carried out at the antenatal clinics of the Women’s Hospital, Qatar.
Subjects and methods
A representative sample of 2056 pregnant women who attended the antenatal clinics of the Women’s Hospital were surveyed during the period from the first week of January 2010 to April 2011. From this sample, 1608 women (78.2%) expressed their consent to participate in the study. Questionnaires were administered to pregnant women who were seeking antenatal care at this urban hospital. The questionnaire covered variables related to sociodemographic factors, family history, medical history, maternal complications, and neonatal outcome.
Results
The prevalence of GDM in Qatar was 16.3%. Women with GDM were significantly higher in the age group of 35–45 years (45%; P = 0.001). Family history of diabetes (31.7%; P < 0.001), increased parity (55.3%; P = 0.004), and obesity (59.2%; P < 0.001) were determinants of GDM in pregnant women. Maternal complications like pregnancy-induced hypertension (19.1% vs 10.3%; P < 0.001), pre-eclampsia (7.3% vs 3.8%; P = 0.012), antepartum hemorrhage (19.2% vs 14.6%; P = 0.05), and cesarean (27.9% vs 12.4%; P < 0.001) were significantly higher in GDM women. Neonates were at increased risk of preterm birth (12.6% vs 8.3%; P = 0.03), macrosomia (10.3% vs 5.9%; P = 0.01), and birth trauma (8% vs 3%; P < 0.001).
Conclusion
The study findings revealed that GDM was higher in women in Qatar and that they were at increased risk of developing maternal and neonatal complications. Obesity emerged as an essential risk factor for subsequent GDM. The advanced maternal age, low monthly income, family history of diabetes, and obesity were the main significant risk factors for GDM.
doi:10.2147/IJWH.S26094
PMCID: PMC3225465  PMID: 22140323
gestational diabetes; obstetric risks; macrosomic; Qatar
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.  Effectiveness of Non-nucleoside Reverse-Transcriptase Inhibitor-Based Antiretroviral Therapy in Women Previously Exposed to a Single Intrapartum Dose of Nevirapine: A Multi-country, Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000233.
In a comparative cohort study, Jeffrey Stringer and colleagues investigate the risk of ART failure in women who received single-dose nevirapine for PMTCT, and assess the duration of increased risk.
Background
Intrapartum and neonatal single-dose nevirapine (NVP) reduces the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission but also induces viral resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) drugs. This drug resistance largely fades over time. We hypothesized that women with a prior single-dose NVP exposure would have no more than a 10% higher cumulative prevalence of failure of their NNRTI-containing antiretroviral therapy (ART) over the first 48 wk of therapy than would women without a prior exposure.
Methods and Findings
We enrolled 355 NVP-exposed and 523 NVP-unexposed women at two sites in Zambia, one site in Kenya, and two sites in Thailand into a prospective, non-inferiority cohort study and followed them for 48 wk on ART. Those who died, discontinued NNRTI-containing ART, or had a plasma viral load ≥400 copies/ml at either the 24 wk or 48 wk study visits and confirmed on repeat testing were characterized as having failed therapy. Overall, 114 of 355 NVP-exposed women (32.1%) and 132 of 523 NVP-unexposed women (25.2%) met criteria for treatment failure. The difference in failure rates between the exposure groups was 6.9% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.8%–13.0%). The failure rates of women stratified by our predefined exposure interval categories were as follows: 47 of 116 women in whom less than 6 mo elapsed between exposure and starting ART failed therapy (40%; p<0.001 compared to unexposed women); 25 of 67 women in whom 7–12 mo elapsed between exposure and starting ART failed therapy (37%; p = 0.04 compared to unexposed women); and 42 of 172 women in whom more than 12 mo elapsed between exposure and starting ART failed therapy (24%; p = 0.82 compared to unexposed women). Locally weighted regression analysis also indicated a clear inverse relationship between virologic failure and the exposure interval.
Conclusions
Prior exposure to single-dose NVP was associated with an increased risk of treatment failure; however, this risk seems largely confined to women with a more recent exposure. Women requiring ART within 12 mo of NVP exposure should not be prescribed an NNRTI-containing regimen as first-line therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) kills nearly 300,000 children. At the end of 2008, 2.1 million children were positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS, and in that year alone more than 400,000 children were newly infected with HIV. Most HIV-positive children acquire the virus from their mothers during pregnancy or birth or through breastfeeding, so-called mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). Without intervention, 15%–30% of babies born to HIV-positive women become infected with HIV during pregnancy and delivery, and a further 5%–20% become infected through breastfeeding. These rates of infection can be greatly reduced by treating the mother and her newborn baby with antiretroviral drugs. A single dose of nevirapine (a “non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor” or NNRTI) given to the mother at the start of labor and to the baby soon after birth reduces the risk of MTCT by nearly a half; a further reduction in risk can be achieved by giving the mother and her baby additional antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy, around the time of birth, and while breast-feeding.
Why Was This Study Done?
Single-dose nevirapine is the mainstay of MTCT prevention programs in many poor countries but can induce resistance to nevirapine and to other NNRTIs. The drugs used to treat HIV infections fall into several different classes defined by how they stop viral growth. HIV can become resistant to any of these drugs and a virus strain that is resistant to one member of a drug class is often also resistant to other members of the same class. Because most first-line antiretroviral therapies (ARTs; cocktails of antiretroviral drugs) used in developing countries contain an NNRTI and because HIV-positive mothers eventually need ART to safeguard their own health, the resistance to NNRTIs that is induced in women by single-dose nevirapine might decrease the chances that ART will work for them later. In this multi-country, prospective cohort study, the researchers compare the effectiveness of NNRTI-containing ART in a group (cohort) of women previously exposed to single-dose nevirapine during childbirth to its effectiveness in a group of unexposed women. They also investigate whether the length of time between nevirapine exposure and ART initiation affects ART effectiveness.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 355 HIV-positive nevirapine-exposed women and 523 HIV-positive nevirapine-unexposed women in Zambia, Kenya, and Thailand who were just starting NNRTI-containing ART and followed them for 48 weeks. They defined ART failure as death, discontinuation of NNRTI-containing ART, or a high virus load in the blood (virologic failure) at 24 or 48 weeks. ART failed in nearly a third of the nevirapine-exposed women but in only a quarter of the nevirapine-unexposed women. Women who began ART within 6 months of taking single-dose nevirapine to prevent MTCT were twice as likely to experience ART failure as women not exposed to single-dose nevirapine. Women who began ART 7–12 months after single-dose nevirapine had a slightly increased risk of ART failure compared to unexposed women but this increased risk was not statistically significant; that is, it could have occurred by chance. Women who began ART more than 12 months after single-dose nevirapine did not have an increased risk of ART failure compared to unexposed women. Finally, the researchers used a statistical method called locally weighted regression analysis to confirm that an increase in the interval between single-dose nevirapine and ART initiation decreased the risk of virologic failure.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings, which confirm and extend the results of previous studies and which are likely to be generalizable to other resource-poor countries, indicate that single-dose nevirapine given to women to prevent MTCT increases their risk of subsequent ART failure. More positively, they also show that this increased failure risk is largely confined to women who begin ART within a year of exposure to nevirapine. Because of the study design, it is possible that the nevirapine-exposed women share some additional, undefined characteristic that makes them more likely to fail ART than unexposed women. Even so, these findings suggest that, provided NNRTI-containing ART is not given to HIV-positive women within a year of nevirapine exposure, single-dose nevirapine can be safely used to prevent MTCT without compromising the mother's future antiretroviral treatment options.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000233.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS, on treatments for HIV/AIDS, and on HIV infection in infants and children
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on children, HIV, and AIDS and on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (in English and Spanish)
UNICEF also has information about children and HIV and AIDS (in several languages)
The World Health Organization has information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000233
PMCID: PMC2821896  PMID: 20169113
25.  The design, implementation and acceptability of an integrated intervention to address multiple behavioral and psychosocial risk factors among pregnant African American women 
Background
African American women are at increased risk for poor pregnancy outcomes compared to other racial-ethnic groups. Single or multiple psychosocial and behavioral factors may contribute to this risk. Most interventions focus on singular risks. This paper describes the design, implementation, challenges faced, and acceptability of a behavioral counseling intervention for low income, pregnant African American women which integrated multiple targeted risks into a multi-component format.
Methods
Six academic institutions in Washington, DC collaborated in the development of a community-wide, primary care research study, DC-HOPE, to improve pregnancy outcomes. Cigarette smoking, environmental tobacco smoke exposure, depression and intimate partner violence were the four risks targeted because of their adverse impact on pregnancy. Evidence-based models for addressing each risk were adapted and integrated into a multiple risk behavior intervention format. Pregnant women attending six urban prenatal clinics were screened for eligibility and risks and randomized to intervention or usual care. The 10-session intervention was delivered in conjunction with prenatal and postpartum care visits. Descriptive statistics on risk factor distributions, intervention attendance and length (i.e., with < 4 sessions considered minimal adherence) for all enrolled women (n = 1,044), and perceptions of study participation from a sub-sample of those enrolled (n = 152) are reported.
Results
Forty-eight percent of women screened were eligible based on presence of targeted risks, 76% of those eligible were enrolled, and 79% of those enrolled were retained postpartum. Most women reported a single risk factor (61%); 39% had multiple risks. Eighty-four percent of intervention women attended at least one session (60% attended ≥ 4 sessions) without disruption of clinic scheduling. Specific risk factor content was delivered as prescribed in 80% or more of the sessions; 78% of sessions were fully completed (where all required risk content was covered). Ninety-three percent of the subsample of intervention women had a positive view of their relationship with their counselor. Most intervention women found the session content helpful. Implementation challenges of addressing multiple risk behaviors are discussed.
Conclusion
While implementation adjustments and flexibility are necessary, multiple risk behavioral interventions can be implemented in a prenatal care setting without significant disruption of services, and with a majority of referred African American women participating in and expressing satisfaction with treatment sessions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-22
PMCID: PMC2474573  PMID: 18578875

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