Interventions directed toward mothers before and during pregnancy and childbirth may help reduce preterm births and stillbirths. Survival of preterm newborns may also be improved with interventions given during these times or soon after birth. This comprehensive review assesses existing interventions for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Approximately 2,000 intervention studies were systematically evaluated through December 31, 2008. They addressed preterm birth or low birth weight; stillbirth or perinatal mortality; and management of preterm newborns. Out of 82 identified interventions, 49 were relevant to LMICs and had reasonable amounts of evidence, and therefore selected for in-depth reviews. Each was classified and assessed by the quality of available evidence and its potential to treat or prevent preterm birth and stillbirth. Impacts on other maternal, fetal, newborn or child health outcomes were also considered. Assessments were based on an adaptation of the Grades of Recommendation Assessment, Development and Evaluation criteria.
Most interventions require additional research to improve the quality of evidence. Others had little evidence of benefit and should be discontinued. The following are supported by moderate- to high-quality evidence and strongly recommended for LMICs:
• Two interventions prevent preterm births—smoking cessation and progesterone
• Eight interventions prevent stillbirths—balanced protein energy supplementation, screening and treatment of syphilis, intermittant presumptive treatment for malaria during pregnancy, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, birth preparedness, emergency obstetric care, cesarean section for breech presentation, and elective induction for post-term delivery
• Eleven interventions improve survival of preterm newborns—prophylactic steroids in preterm labor, antibiotics for PROM, vitamin K supplementation at delivery, case management of neonatal sepsis and pneumonia, delayed cord clamping, room air (vs. 100% oxygen) for resuscitation, hospital-based kangaroo mother care, early breastfeeding, thermal care, and surfactant therapy and application of continued distending pressure to the lungs for respiratory distress syndrome
The research paradigm for discovery science and intervention development must be balanced to address prevention as well as improve morbidity and mortality in all settings. This review also reveals significant gaps in current knowledge of interventions spanning the continuum of maternal and fetal outcomes, and the critical need to generate further high-quality evidence for promising interventions.
Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for pregnancy complications. Knowledge about increased risks in overweight and obese women could contribute to successful prevention strategies and the aim of this study is to assess current levels of knowledge in a pregnant population.
Cross sectional survey of 412 consecutive unselected women in early pregnancy in Brisbane, Australia: 255 public women attending their first antenatal clinic visit and 157 women at private maternal fetal medicine clinics undergoing a routine ultrasound evaluation prior to 20 weeks gestation. The cohort was stratified according to pre pregnancy BMI (< 25.0 or ≥ 25.0). The main outcome measure was knowledge regarding the risks of overweight and obesity in pregnancy.
Over 75% of respondents identified that obese women have an increased risk of overall complications, including gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy compared to women of normal weight. More than 60% of women asserted that obesity would increase the risk of caesarean section and less than half identified an increased risk of adverse neonatal outcomes. Women were less likely to know about neonatal complications (19.7% did not know about the effect of obesity on these) than maternal complications (7.4%). Knowledge was similar amongst women recruited at the public hospital and those recruited whilst attending for an ultrasound scan at a private clinic. For most areas they were also similar between women of lower and higher BMI, but women with BMI < 25.0 were less likely to know that obesity was associated with increased rate of Caesarean section than those with higher BMI (16.8% versus 4.5%, P < 0.001). Higher educational status was associated with more knowledge of the risks of overweight and obesity in pregnancy.
Many women correctly identify that overweight and obesity increases the overall risk of complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The increased risks of maternal complications associated with being obese are better known than the increased risk of neonatal complications. Maternal education status is a main determinant of the extent of knowledge and this should be considered when designing education campaigns.
Many perinatal interventions are performed to improve long-term neonatal outcome. To evaluate the long-term effect of a perinatal intervention follow-up of the child after discharge from the hospital is necessary because serious sequelae from perinatal complications frequently manifest themselves only after several years. However, long-term follow-up is time-consuming, is not in the awareness of obstetricians, is expensive and falls outside the funding-period of most obstetric studies. Consequently, short-term outcomes are often reported instead of the primary long-term end-point. With this project, we will assess the current state of affairs concerning follow-up after obstetric RCTs and we will develop multivariable prediction models for different long-term health outcomes. Furthermore, we would like to encourage other researchers participating in follow-up studies after large obstetric trials (> 350 women) to inform us about their studies so that we can include their follow-up study in our systematic review. We would invite these researchers also to join our effort and to collaborate with us on the external validation of our prediction models.
A systematic review of neonatal follow-up after obstetric studies will be performed. All reviews of the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth group will be assessed for reviews on interventions that aimed to improve neonatal outcome. Reviews on interventions primary looking at other aspects than neonatal outcome such as labour progress will also be included when these interventions can change the outcome of the neonate on the short or long-term. Our review will be limited to RCTs with more than 350 women. Information that will be extracted from these RCTs will address whether, how and for how long follow-up has been performed. However, in many cases long-term follow-up of the infants will not be feasible. An alternative solution to limited follow-up could be to develop prediction models to estimate long-term health outcomes of the newborn based on specific perinatal outcomes and other covariates. For the development of multivariable prediction models for several health outcomes, we will use data available from a Dutch cohort study of preterm (< 32 weeks) and/or small for gestational age infants (< 1500 g). These infants were born in The Netherlands in 1983 and followed until they reached the age of 19.
The systematic review will provide insight in the extent and methods used for follow-up assessments after obstetric RCTs in the past. The prediction models can be used by future studies to extrapolate short-term outcomes to a long-term horizon or to indicate for which neonates long-term follow-up is required, as their outcomes (either absence or presence of sequelae) cannot be adequately predicted from short-term outcomes and clinical background characteristics.
Antenatal care is widely established and provides an opportunity to inform and educate pregnant women about pregnancy, childbirth and care of the newborn. It is expected that this would assist the women in making choices that would contribute to good pregnancy outcome. We examined the provision of information and education in antenatal clinics from the perspective of pregnant women attending these clinics.
A cross sectional survey of 457 pregnant women attending six urban and six rural antenatal clinics in the largest health division in The Gambia was undertaken. The women were interviewed using modified antenatal client exit interview and antenatal record review questionnaires from the WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment kit. Differences between women attending urban and rural clinics were assessed using the Chi-square test. Relative risks with 95% confidence intervals are presented.
Ninety percent of those interviewed had attended the antenatal clinic more than once and 52% four or more times. Most pregnant women (70.5%) said they spent 3 minutes or less with the antenatal care provider. About 35% recalled they were informed or educated on diet and nutrition, 30.4% on care of the baby, 23.6% on family planning, 22.8% on place of birth and 19.3% on what to do if there was a complication.
About 25% of pregnant women said they were given information about the progress of their pregnancy after consultation and only 12.8% asked their provider any question. Awareness of danger signs was low. The proportions of women that recognised signs of danger were 28.9% for anaemia, 24.6% for hypertension, 14.8% for haemorrhage, 12.9% for fever and 5% for puerperal sepsis. Prolonged labour was not recognised as a danger sign. Women attending rural antenatal clinics were 1.6 times more likely to recognise signs of anaemia and hypertension as indicative of danger compared to women attending urban antenatal clinics.
Information, education and communication during antenatal care in the largest health division are poor. Pregnant women are ill-equipped to make appropriate choices especially when they are in danger. This contributes to the persistence of high maternal mortality ratios in the country.
A randomised controlled trial of participatory women's groups in rural Nepal previously showed reductions in maternal and newborn mortality. In addition to the outcome data we also collected previously unreported information from the subgroup of women who had been pregnant prior to study commencement and conceived during the trial period. To determine the mechanisms via which the intervention worked we here examine the changes in perinatal care of these women. In particular we use the information to study factors affecting positive behaviour change in pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care.
Women's groups focusing on perinatal care were introduced into 12 of 24 study clusters (average cluster population 7000). A total of 5400 women of reproductive age enrolled in the trial had previously been pregnant and conceived during the trial period.
For each of four outcomes (attendance at antenatal care; use of a boiled blade to cut the cord; appropriate dressing of the cord; not discarding colostrum) each of these women was classified as BETTER, GOOD, BAD or WORSE to describe whether and how she changed her pre-trial practice. Multilevel multinomial models were used to identify women most responsive to intervention.
Among those not initially following good practice, women in intervention areas were significantly more likely to do so later for all four outcomes (OR 1.92 to 3.13). Within intervention clusters, women who attended groups were more likely to show a positive change than non-group members with regard to antenatal care utilisation and not discarding colostrum, but non-group members also benefited.
Women's groups promoted significant behaviour change for perinatal care amongst women not previously following good practice. Positive changes attributable to intervention were not restricted to specific demographic subgroups.
Neonatal mortality rates are high in rural Nepal where more than 90% of deliveries are in the home. Evidence suggests that death rates can be reduced by interventions at community level. We describe an intervention which aimed to harness the power of community planning and decision making to improve maternal and newborn care in rural Nepal.
The development of 111 women's groups in a population of 86 704 in Makwanpur district, Nepal is described. The groups, facilitated by local women, were the intervention component of a randomized controlled trial to reduce perinatal and neonatal mortality rates. Through participant observation and analysis of reports, we describe the implementation of this intervention: the community entry process, the facilitation of monthly meetings through a participatory action cycle of problem identification, community planning, and implementation and evaluation of strategies to tackle the identified problems.
In response to the needs of the group, participatory health education was added to the intervention and the women's groups developed varied strategies to tackle problems of maternal and newborn care: establishing mother and child health funds, producing clean home delivery kits and operating stretcher schemes. Close linkages with community leaders and community health workers improved strategy implementation. There were also indications of positive effects on group members and health services, and most groups remained active after 30 months.
A large scale and potentially sustainable participatory intervention with women's groups, which focused on pregnancy, childbirth and the newborn period, resulted in innovative strategies identified by local communities to tackle perinatal care problems.
There is a high association between disturbed (poor quality) sleep and depression, which has lead to a consensus that there is a bidirectional relationship between sleep and mood. One time in a woman’s life when sleep is commonly disturbed is during pregnancy and following childbirth. It has been suggested that sleep disturbance is another factor that may contribute to the propensity for women to become depressed in the postpartum period compared to other periods in their life. Post Natal Depression (PND) is common (15.5%) and associated with sleep disturbance, however, no studies have attempted to provide a sleep-focused intervention to pregnant women and assess whether this can improve sleep, and consequently maternal mood post-partum. The primary aim of this research is to determine the efficacy of a brief psychoeducational sleep intervention compared with a control group to improve sleep management, with a view to reduce depressive symptoms in first time mothers.
This randomised controlled trial will recruit 214 first time mothers during the last trimester of their pregnancy. Participants will be randomised to receive either a set of booklets (control group) or a 3hour psychoeducational intervention that focuses on sleep. The primary outcomes of this study are sleep-related, that is sleep quality and sleepiness for ten months following the birth of the baby. The secondary outcome is depressive symptoms. It is hypothesised that participants in the intervention group will have better sleep quality and sleepiness in the postpartum period than women in the control condition. Further, we predict that women who receive the sleep intervention will have lower depression scores postpartum compared with the control group.
This study aims to provide an intervention that will improve maternal sleep in the postpartum period. If sleep can be effectively improved through a brief psychoeducational program, then it may have a protective role in reducing maternal postpartum depressive symptoms.
This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Register under the registration number ACTRN12611000859987
Sleep; New mothers; Postnatal; Postpartum; Depression; Psychoeducation
The Brazilian Network for Surveillance of Severe Maternal Morbidity was established in 27 centers in different regions of Brazil to investigate the frequency of severe maternal morbidity (near-miss and potentially life-threatening conditions) and associated factors, and to create a collaborative network for studies on perinatal health. It also allowed interventions aimed at improving the quality of care in the participating institutions. The objective of this study was to evaluate the perception of the professionals involved regarding the effect of participating in such network on the quality of care provided to women.
A mixed quantitative and qualitative study interviewed coordinators, investigators and managers from all the 27 obstetric units that had participated in the network. Following verbal informed consent, data were collected six and twelve months after the surveillance period using structured and semi-structured interviews that were conducted by telephone and recorded. A descriptive analysis for the quantitative and categorical data, and a thematic content analysis for the answers to the open questions were performed.
The vast majority (93%) of interviewees considered it was important to have participated in the network and 95% that their ability to identify cases of severe maternal morbidity had improved. They also considered that the study had a positive effect, leading to changes in how cases were identified, better organization/standardization of team activities, changes in routines/protocols, implementation of auditing for severe cases, dissemination of knowledge at local/regional level and a contribution to local and/or national identification of maternal morbidity. After 12 months, interviewees mentioned the need to improve prenatal care and the scientific importance of the results. Some believed that there had been little or no impact due to the poor dissemination of information and the resistance of professionals to change practice. In this second interview, a lack of systematic surveillance after the end of the study, difficulty in referring cases and changes in the leadership of the unit were mentioned.
In the opinion of these professionals, participating in a network for the surveillance of severe maternal morbidity represented a good strategy for improving services, even in reference centers.
Maternal morbidity; Near miss; Quality of care
Post-partum hemorrhage (PPH) is the major cause of maternal mortality in Ghana and worldwide. Active management of the third stage of labor (AMTSL) is a globally recommended three-step method that in clinical trials has been proven effective in prevention of PPH. The AMTSL guidelines were introduced in 2003, modified in 2006, and has been part of the national guidelines in Ghana since 2008. In 2012, the guidelines were modified a second time. Despite its positive effects on the incidence of PPH, the level of adherence to the guidelines seems to be low in the studied area. This appears to be a problem shared by several countries in the region. An in-depth understanding of midwives’ experiences about AMTSL is important as it can provide a basis for further interventions in order to reach a higher grade of implementation.
Twelve in-depth interviews were conducted with labor ward midwives who all had previous training in AMTSL. The interviews took place in 2011 at three hospitals in Accra Metropolis and data was analyzed using qualitative latent content analysis.
Our main finding was that the third step of AMTSL, uterine massage, was not implemented, even though the general attitude towards AMTSL was positive. Thus, despite regular training sessions, the midwives did not follow the Ghanaian national guidelines. Some contributing factors to difficulties in providing AMTSL to all women have been pointed out in this study, the most important being insufficiency in staff coverage. This led to a need for delegating certain steps of AMTSL to other health care staff, i.e. task shifting. The fact that the definition of AMTSL has changed several times since the introduction in 2003 might also be an aggravating factor.
The results from this study highlight the need for continuous updates of national guidelines, extended educational interventions and recurrent controls of adherence to guidelines. AMTSL is an important tool in preventing PPH, however, it must be clarified how it should be used in countries with scarce resources. Also, considering the difficulties in implementing already existing guidelines, further modifications must be made with careful consideration.
Active management of the third stage of labor (AMTSL); Post-partum hemorrhage (PPH); Oxytocin; Controlled Cord Traction; Uterine massage; Ghana; Task shifting
Antenatal Care (ANC), use of skilled delivery attendants and postnatal care (PNC) services are key maternal health services that can significantly reduce maternal mortality. Understanding the factors that affect service utilization helps to design appropriate strategies and policies towards improvement of service utilization and thereby reduce maternal mortality. The objective of this study was to identify factors that affect utilization of maternal health services in Ethiopia.
Data were drawn from the 2011 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey. The dependent variables were use of ANC, skilled delivery attendants and PNC services. The independent variables were categorized as socio-cultural, perceived needs and accessibility related factors. Data analysis was done using SPSS for windows version 20.0. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used in the analysis.
Thirty four percent of women had ANC visits, 11.7% used skilled delivery attendants and 9.7% of women had a postnatal health checkup. Education of women, place of residence, ethnicity, parity, women’s autonomy and household wealth had a significant association with the use of maternal health services. Women who completed higher education were more likely to use ANC (AOR = 3.8, 95% CI = 1.8-7.8), skilled delivery attendants (AOR = 3.4, 95% CI = 1.9-6.2) and PNC (AOR = 3.2, 95% CI = 2.0-5.2). Women from urban areas use ANC (AOR = 2.3, 95% CI = 1.9-2.9), skilled delivery attendants (AOR = 4.9, 95% CI = 3.8-6.3) and PNC services (AOR = 2.6, 95% CI = 2.0-3.4) more than women from rural areas. Women who have had ANC visits during the index pregnancy were more likely to subsequently use skilled delivery attendants (AOR = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.1-1.7) and PNC (AOR = 3.4, 95% CI = 2.8-4.1). Utilization of ANC, delivery and PNC services is more among more autonomous women than those whose spending is controlled by other people.
Maternal health service utilization in Ethiopia is very low. Socio-demographic and accessibility related factors are major determinants of service utilization. There is a high inequality in service utilization among women with differences in education, household wealth, autonomy and residence. ANC is an important entry point for subsequent use of delivery and PNC services. Strategies that aim improving maternal health service utilization should target improvement of education, economic status and empowerment of women.
Antenatal care; Delivery; Postnatal care; Maternal health service; Determinants; Skilled delivery attendant; Ethiopia
Maternal mortality remains high in sub-Saharan Africa. Health facility intra-partum strategies with skilled birth attendance have been shown to be most effective to address maternal mortality. In Zambia, the health policy for pregnant women is to have facility childbirth, but less than half of the women utilize the facilities for delivery. ‘Born before arrival’ (BBA) describes childbirth that occurs outside health facility. With the aim to increase our understanding of trust in facility birth care we explored how users and providers perceived the low utilization of health facilities during childbirth.
A qualitative study was conducted in Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia. Focus group discussions with antenatal clinic and outpatient department attendees were conducted in 2008 as part of the Response to Accountable priority setting and Trust in health systems project, (REACT). In-depth interviews conducted with women who delivered at home, their husbands, community leaders, traditional birth attendants, and midwives were added in 2011. Information was collected on perceptions and experiences of home and health facility childbirth, and reasons for not utilizing a facility at delivery. Data were analysed by inductive content analysis.
Perspectives of users and providers were grouped under themes that included experiences related to promotion of facility childbirth, responsiveness of health care providers, and giving birth at home. Trust and quality of care were important when individuals seek facility childbirth. Safety, privacy and confidentiality encouraged facility childbirth. Poor attitudes of health providers, long distances and lack of transport to facilities, costs to buy delivery kits, and cultural ideals that local herbs speed up labour and women should exhibit endurance at childbirth discouraged facility childbirth.
Trust and perceived quality of care were important and influenced health care seeking at childbirth. Interventions that include both the demand and supply sides of services with prioritizing needs of the community could substantially improve trust and utilization of facilities at childbirth, and accelerate efforts to achieve MDG5.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-323) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Home deliveries; Health facility childbirth; Born before arrival; Responsiveness; Zambia
The maternal near-miss (MNM) concept has been developed to assess life-threatening conditions during pregnancy, childhood, and puerperium. In recent years, caesarean section (CS) rates have increased rapidly in many low- and middle-income countries, a trend which might have serious effects on maternal health. Our aim was to describe the occurrence and panorama of maternal near-miss and death in two low-resource settings, and explore their association with CS complications.
We performed a cross-sectional study, including all women who fulfilled the WHO criteria for MNM or death between February and June 2012 at a university hospital and a regional hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Cases were assessed individually to determine their association with CS. Main outcome measures included MNM ratio; maternal mortality ratio; proportion of MNM and death associated with CS complications; and the risk for such outcomes per 1,000 operations. The risk ratio of life-threatening CS complications at the university hospital compared to the regional hospital was calculated.
We identified 467 MNM events and 77 maternal deaths. The MNM ratio was 36 per 1,000 live births (95% CI 33–39) and the maternal mortality ratio was 587 per 100,000 live births (95% CI 460–730). Major causes were eclampsia and postpartum haemorrhage, but we also detected nine MNM events and five deaths from iatrogenic complications. CS complications accounted for 7.9% (95% CI 5.6–11) of the MNM events and 13% (95% CI 6.4–23) of the maternal deaths. The risk of experiencing a life-threatening CS complication was three times higher at the regional hospital (22/1,000 operations, 95% CI 12–37) compared to the university hospital (7.0/1,000 operations, 95% CI 3.8–12) (risk ratio 3.2, 95% CI 1.5–6.6).
The occurrence of MNM and death at the two hospitals was high, and many cases were associated with CS complications. The maternal risks of CS in low-resource settings must not be overlooked, and measures should be taken to avoid unnecessary CSs. More comprehensive training of staff, improved postoperative surveillance, and a more even distribution of resources within the health care system might reduce the risks of CS.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-244) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Maternal near-miss; Maternal death; Caesarean section; Low-income country
Maternal mortality in much of sub-Saharan Africa is very high whereas there has been a steady decline in over the past 60 years in Europe. Perinatal mortality is 12 times higher than maternal mortality accounting for about 7 million neonatal deaths; many of these in sub-Saharan countries. Many of these deaths are preventable. Countries, like Malawi, do not have the resources nor highly trained medical specialists using complex technologies within their healthcare system. Much of the burden falls on healthcare staff other than doctors including non-physician clinicians (NPCs) such as clinical officers, midwives and community health-workers. The aim of this trial is to evaluate a project which is training NPCs as advanced leaders by providing them with skills and knowledge in advanced neonatal and obstetric care. Training that will hopefully be cascaded to their colleagues (other NPCs, midwives, nurses).
This is a cluster randomised controlled trial with the unit of randomisation being the 14 districts of central and northern Malawi (one large district was divided into two giving an overall total of 15). Eight districts will be randomly allocated the intervention. Within these eight districts 50 NPCs will be selected and will be enrolled on the training programme (the intervention). Primary outcome will be maternal and perinatal (defined as until discharge from health facility) mortality. Data will be harvested from all facilities in both intervention and control districts for the lifetime of the project (3–4 years) and comparisons made. In addition a process evaluation using both quantitative and qualitative (e.g. interviews) will be undertaken to evaluate the intervention implementation.
Education and training of NPCs is a key to improving healthcare for mothers and babies in countries like Malawi. Some of the challenges faced are discussed as are the potential limitations. It is hoped that the findings from this trial will lead to a sustainable improvement in healthcare and workforce development and training.
Clinical trials, systematic reviews and guidelines compare beneficial and non-beneficial outcomes following interventions. Often, however, various studies on a particular topic do not address the same outcomes, making it difficult to draw clinically useful conclusions when a group of studies is looked at as a whole. This problem was recently thrown into sharp focus by a systematic review of interventions for preterm birth prevention, which found that among 103 randomised trials, no fewer than 72 different outcomes were reported. There is a growing recognition among clinical researchers that this variability undermines consistent synthesis of the evidence, and that what is needed is an agreed standardised collection of outcomes - a “core outcomes set” - for all trials in a specific clinical area. Recognising that the current inconsistency is a serious hindrance to progress in our specialty, the editors of over 50 journals related to women’s health have come together to support The CROWN (CoRe Outcomes in WomeN’s health) Initiative.
Research design/standards; Treatment outcome; Endpoint determination/standards; Clinical trials; Systematic reviews; Guidelines; Bias (Epidemiology); Evidence-based medicine; Consensus
Childbirth confidence is an important marker of women’s coping abilities during labour and birth. This study investigated socio-demographic, obstetric and psychological factors affecting self-efficacy in childbearing women.
This paper presents a secondary analysis of data collected as part of the BELIEF study (Birth Emotions – Looking to Improve Expectant Fear). Women (n = 1410) were recruited during pregnancy (≤24 weeks gestation). The survey included socio-demographic details (such as age and partner support); obstetric details including parity, birth preference, and pain; and standardised psychological measures: CBSEI (Childbirth Self-efficacy Inventory), W-DEQ A (childbirth fear) and EPDS (depressive symptoms). Variables were tested against CBSEI first stage of labour sub-scales (outcome expectancy and self-efficacy expectancy) according to parity.
CBSEI total mean score was 443 (SD = 112.2). CBSEI, W-DEQ, EPDS scores were highly correlated. Regardless of parity, women who reported low childbirth knowledge, who preferred a caesarean section, and had high W-DEQ and EPDS scores reported lower self-efficacy. There were no differences for nulliparous or multiparous women on outcome expectancy, but multiparous women had higher self-efficacy scores (p < .001). Multiparous women whose partner was unsupportive were more likely to report low self-efficacy expectancy (p < .05). Experiencing moderate pain in pregnancy was significantly associated with low self-efficacy expectancy in both parity groups, as well as low outcome expectancy in nulliparous women only. Fear correlated strongly with low childbirth self-efficacy.
Few studies have investigated childbirth self-efficacy according to parity. Although multiparous women reported higher birth confidence significant obstetric and psychological differences were found. Addressing women’s physical and emotional wellbeing and perceptions of the upcoming birth may highlight their level of self-efficacy for birth.
Australian New Zealand Controlled Trials Registry ACTRN12612000526875, 17th May 2012.
Pregnancy; Childbirth self-efficacy; Parity; Caesarean section; Fear; Depression
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.
Women’s delays in reaching emergency obstetric care (EmOC) facilities contribute to high maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity in low-income countries, yet few studies have quantified travel times to EmOC and examined delays systematically. We defined a delay as the difference between a woman’s travel time to EmOC and the optimal travel time under the best case scenario. The objectives were to model travel times to EmOC and identify factors explaining delays. i.e., the difference between empirical and modelled travel times.
A cost-distance approach in a raster-based geographic information system (GIS) was used for modelling travel times. Empirical data were obtained during a cross-sectional survey among women admitted in a life-threatening condition to the maternity ward of Herat Regional Hospital in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008. Multivariable linear regression was used to identify the determinants of the log of delay.
Amongst 402 women, 82 (20%) had no delay. The median modelled travel time, reported travel time, and delay were 1.0 hour [Q1-Q3: 0.6, 2.2], 3.6 hours [Q1-Q3: 1.0, 12.0], and 2.0 hours [Q1-Q3: 0.1, 9.2], respectively. The adjusted ratio (AR) of a delay of the “one-referral” group to the “self-referral” group was 4.9 [95% confidence interval (CI): 3.8-6.3]. Difficulties obtaining transportation explained some delay [AR 2.1 compared to “no difficulty”; 95% CI: 1.5-3.1]. A husband’s very large social network (> = 5 people) doubled a delay [95% CI: 1.1-3.7] compared to a moderate (3-4 people) network. Women with severe infections had a delay 2.6 times longer than those with postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) [95% CI: 1.4-4.9].
Delays were mostly explained by the number of health facilities visited. A husband’s large social network contributed to a delay. A complication with dramatic symptoms (e.g. PPH) shortened a delay while complications with less-alarming symptoms (e.g. severe infection) prolonged it. In-depth investigations are needed to clarify whether time is spent appropriately at lower-level facilities. Community members need to be sensitised to the signs and symptoms of obstetric complications and the urgency associated with them. Health-enhancing behaviours such as birth plans should be promoted in communities.
Afghanistan; Delays; Emergency obstetric care; Referrals; Maternal health; Near-miss; Geographic information systems; Social network; Transportation
To study institutionalization of the World Health Organization’s Safe Childbirth Checklist (SCC) in a tertiary care center in Sri Lanka.
A hospital-based, prospective observational study was conducted in the De Soysa Hospital for Women, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Healthcare workers were educated regarding the SCC, which was to be used for each woman admitted to the labor room during the study period. A qualitatively pretested, self-administered questionnaire was given to all nursing and midwifery staff to assess knowledge and attitudes towards the checklist. Each item of the SCC was reviewed for adherence.
A total of 824 births in which the checklist used were studied. There were a total of births 1800 during the period, giving an adoption rate of 45.8%. Out of the 170 health workers in the hospital (nurses, midwives and nurse midwives) 98 answered the questionnaire (response rate = 57.6%). The average number of childbirth practices checked in the checklist was 21 out of 29 (95% CI 20.2, 21.3). Educating the mother to seek help during labor, after delivery and after discharge from hospital, seeking an assistant during labor, early breast-feeding, maternal HIV infection and discussing contraceptive options were checked least often. The mean level of knowledge on the checklist among health workers was 60.1% (95% CI 57.2, 63.1). Attitudes for acceptance of using the checklist were satisfactory. Average adherence to checklist practices was 71.3%. Sixty eight (69.4%) agreed that the Checklist stimulates inter-personal communication and teamwork. Increased workload, poor enthusiasm of health workers towards new additions to their routine schedule and level of user-friendliness of Checklist were limitations to its greater use.
Amongst users, the attitude towards the checklist was satisfactory. Adoption rate amongst all workers was 45.8% and knowledge regarding the checklist was 60.1%. These two factors are probably linked. Therefore prior to introducing it to a facility awareness about the value and correct use of the SCC needs to be increased, while giving attention to satisfactory staffing levels.
Safe childbirth; Checklist; World health organization; Sri Lanka
Kenya has a maternal mortality ratio of 488 per 100,000 live births. Preventing maternal deaths depends significantly on the presence of a skilled birth attendant at delivery. Kenyan national statistics estimate that the proportion of births attended by a skilled health professional have remained below 50% for over a decade; currently at 44%, according to Kenya’s demographic health survey 2008/09 against the national target of 65%. This study examines the association of mother’s characteristics, access to reproductive health services, and the use of skilled birth attendants in Makueni County, Kenya.
We carried out secondary data analysis of a cross sectional cluster survey that was conducted in August 2012. Interviews were conducted with 1,205 eligible female respondents (15-49 years), who had children less than five years (0-59 months) at the time of the study. Data was analysed using SPSS version 17. Multicollinearity of the independent variables was assessed. Chi-square tests were used and results that were statistically significant with p-values, p < 0.25 were further included into the multivariable logistic regression model. Adjusted odds ratio (AOR) and their 95% confidence intervals were (95%) calculated. P value less than 0.05 were considered significant.
Among the mothers who were interviewed, 40.3% (489) were delivered by a skilled birth attendant while 59.7% (723) were delivered by unskilled birth attendants. Mothers with tertiary/university education were more likely to use a skilled birth attendant during delivery, adjusted OR 8.657, 95% CI, (1.445- 51.853) compared to those with no education. A woman whose partner had secondary education was 2.9 times more likely to seek skilled delivery, adjusted odds ratio 2.913, 95% CI, (1.337- 6.348). Attending ANC was equally significant, adjusted OR 11.938, 95% CI, (4.086- 34.88). Living within a distance of 1- 5 kilometers from a facility increased the likelihood of skilled birth attendance, adjusted OR 95% CI, 1.594 (1.071- 2.371).
The woman’s level of education, her partner’s level of education, attending ANC and living within 5kms from a health facility are associated with being assisted by skilled birth attendants. Health education and behaviour change communication strategies can be enhanced to increase demand for skilled delivery.
Maternal Health; Skilled attendant; Delivery; Birth; Obstetric care; Kenya
To reduce financial barriers to access, and improve access to and use of skilled maternal and newborn healthcare services, the government of Ghana, in 2003, implemented a new maternal healthcare policy that provided free maternity care services in all public and mission healthcare facilities. Although supervised delivery in Ghana has increased from 47% in 2003 to 55% in 2010, strikingly high maternal mortality ratio and low percentage of skilled attendance are still recorded in many parts of the country.
To explore health system factors that inhibit women’s access to and use of skilled maternal and newborn healthcare services in Ghana despite these services being provided free.
We conducted qualitative research with 185 expectant and lactating mothers and 20 healthcare providers in six communities in Ghana between November 2011 and May 2012. We used Attride-Stirling’s thematic network analysis framework to analyze and present our data.
We found that in addition to limited and unequal distribution of skilled maternity care services, women’s experiences of intimidation in healthcare facilities, unfriendly healthcare providers, cultural insensitivity, long waiting time before care is received, limited birthing choices, poor care quality, lack of privacy at healthcare facilities, and difficulties relating to arranging suitable transportation were important health system barriers to increased and equitable access and use of services in Ghana.
Our findings highlight how a focus on patient-side factors can conceal the fact that many health systems and maternity healthcare facilities in low-income settings such as Ghana are still chronically under-resourced and incapable of effectively providing an acceptable minimum quality of care in the event of serious obstetric complications. Efforts to encourage continued use of maternity care services, especially skilled assistance at delivery, should focus on addressing those negative attributes of the healthcare system that discourage access and use.
Maternal and newborn health; Health system barriers; Access; Maternal healthcare; User-fee abolition; Ghana
Information about postpartum maternal morbidity in developing countries is limited and often based on information obtained from hospitals. As a result, the reports do not usually reflect the true magnitude of obstetric complications and poor management at delivery. In Morocco, little is known about obstetric maternal morbidity. Our aim was to measure and identify the causes of postpartum morbidity 6 weeks after delivery and to compare women’s perception of their health during this period to their medical diagnoses.
We did a cross-sectional study of all women, independent of place of delivery, in Al Massira district, Marrakech, from December 2010 to March 2012. All women were clinically examined 6 to 8 weeks postpartum for delivery-related morbidities. We coupled a clinical examination with a questionnaire and laboratory tests (hemoglobin).
During postpartum consultation, 44% of women expressed at least one complaint. Complaints related to mental health were most often reported (10%), followed by genital infections (8%). Only 9% of women sought treatment for their symptoms before the postpartum visit. Women who were aged ≥30 years, employed, belonged to highest socioeconomic class, and had obstetric complications during birth or delivered in a private facility or at home were more likely to report a complaint. Overall, 60% of women received a medical diagnosis related to their complaint, most of which were related to gynecological problems (22%), followed by laboratory-confirmed anemia (19%). Problems related to mental health represented only 5% of the diagnoses. The comparative analysis between perceived and diagnosed morbidity highlighted discrepancies between complaints that women expressed during their postpartum consultation and those they received from a physician.
A better understanding of postpartum complaints is one of the de facto essential elements to ensuring quality of care for women. Sensitizing and training clinicians in mental health services is important to respond to women’s needs and improve the quality of maternal care.
Maternal health; Postpartum maternal morbidity; Women’s perceptions; Morocco
We conducted a nested randomised trial to evaluate the effect of an educational DVD, providing information about healthy food choices and exercise during pregnancy, on diet and physical activity, among pregnant women who were overweight or obese.
We conducted a nested randomised trial within the context of the LIMIT randomised trial. Women were eligible with a singleton pregnancy between 10 and 20 weeks gestation, and body mass index at the time of their first antenatal appointment of ≥25 kg/m2. All women who were randomised to the Lifestyle Advice Group of the LIMIT trial received a series of consultations with both research dieticians and research assistants, in addition to standard written dietary and exercise materials (Standard Materials Group). Women randomised to the DVD Group received the same consultations and written materials, and additionally received an educational DVD (DVD Group). The primary study outcome was the Healthy Eating Index. Other study outcomes included physical activity, and gestational weight gain. Women completed a qualitative evaluation of all the materials provided.
1,108 women in the LIMIT Lifestyle Advice Group participated in the nested trial, with 543 women randomised to the DVD Group, and 565 women to the Standard Materials Group. Women who received the DVD compared with those who did not, had a higher mean Healthy Eating Index at 36 weeks gestation (73.6 vs 72.3; adjusted mean difference 1.2; 95% CI 0.2 to 2.3; p = 0.02), but not at 28 weeks gestation (73.2 vs 73.5; adjusted mean difference −0.1; 95% CI −1.1 to 0.9; p = 0.82). There were no statistically significant differences in physical activity or total gestational weight gain. While most women evaluated the materials positively, frequency of utilisation was poor.
Ongoing attention to the delivery of information is required, particularly with the increased use and availability of digital and multi-media interactive technologies.
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000161426
Obesity; Pregnancy; Randomised trial; Evaluation of information provision
Preterm birth, a leading cause of neonatal death, is more common in multiple births and thus there has being an increasing call for reducing multiple births in ART. However, few studies have compared risk factors for preterm births amongst ART and non-ART singleton birth mothers.
A population-based study of 393,450 mothers, including 12,105 (3.1%) ART mothers, with singleton gestations born between 2007 and 2009 in 5 of the 8 jurisdictions in Australia. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were conducted to evaluate socio-demographic, medical and pregnancy factors associated with preterm births in contrasting ART and non-ART mothers.
Ten percent of singleton births to ART mothers were preterm compared to 6.8% for non-ART mothers (P < 0.01). Compared with non-ART mothers, ART mothers were older (mean 34.0 vs 29.7 yr respectively), less socio-economically disadvantaged (12.4% in the lowest quintile vs 20.7%), less likely to be smokers (3.8% vs 19.4%), more likely to be first time mothers (primiparous 62.4% vs 40.5%), had more preexisting hypertension and complications during pregnancy. Irrespective of the mode of conception, preexisting medical and pregnancy complications of hypertension, diabetes and antepartum hemorrhages were consistently associated with preterm birth. In contrast, socio-demographic variables, namely young and old maternal age (<25 and >34), socioeconomic disadvantage (most disadvantaged quintile Odds Ratio (OR) 0.95, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.77–1.17), smoking (OR 1.12, 95%CI: 0.79–1.61) and priminarity (OR 1.19, 95% CI: 1.05–1.35, AOR not significant) shown to be associated with elevated risk of preterm birth for non-ART mothers were not demonstrated for ART mothers, even after adjusting for potential confounders. Nonetheless, in multivariable analysis, the association between ART and the elevated risk for singleton preterm birth persisted after controlling for all included confounding medical, pregnancy and socio-economic factors (AOR 1.51, 95% CI: 1.42–1.61).
Preterm birth rate is approximately one-and-a-half-fold higher in ART mothers than non-ART mothers albeit for singleton births after controlling for confounding factors. However, ART mothers were less subject to the adverse influence from socio-demographic factors than non-ART mothers. This has implications for counselling prospective parents.
Assisted reproductive technology; Singleton; Preterm birth; In vitro fertilisation; Risk factor
In Ghana, the site of this study, the maternal mortality ratio and under-five mortality rate remain high indicating the need to focus on maternal and child health programming. Ghana has high use of antenatal care (95%) but sub-optimum levels of institutional delivery (about 57%). Numerous barriers to institutional delivery exist including financial, physical, cognitive, organizational, and psychological and social. This study examines the psychological and social barriers to institutional delivery, namely women’s decision-making autonomy and their perceptions about social support for institutional delivery in their community.
This study uses cross-sectional data collected for the evaluation of the Maternal and Newborn Referrals Project of Project Fives Alive in Northern and Central districts of Ghana. In 2012 and 2013, a total of 2,527 women aged 15 to 49 were surveyed at baseline and midterm (half in 2012 and half in 2013). The analysis sample of 1,606 includes all women who had a birth three years prior to the survey date and who had no missing data. To determine the relationship between institutional delivery and the two key social barriers—women’s decision-making autonomy and community perceptions of institutional delivery—we used multi-level logistic regression models, including cross-level interactions between community-level attitudes and individual-level autonomy. All analyses control for the clustered survey design by including robust standard errors in Stata 13 statistical software.
The findings show that women who are more autonomous and who perceive positive attitudes toward facility delivery (among women, men and mothers-in-law) were more likely to deliver in a facility. Moreover, the interactions between autonomy and community-level perceptions of institutional delivery among men and mothers-in-law were significant, such that the effect of decision-making autonomy is more important for women who live in communities that are less supportive of institutional delivery compared to communities that are more supportive.
This study builds upon prior work by using indicators that provide a more direct assessment of perceived community norms and women’s decision-making autonomy. The findings lead to programmatic recommendations that go beyond individuals and engaging the broader network of people (husbands and mothers-in-law) that influence delivery behaviors.
Institutional delivery; Ghana; Maternal health; Autonomy; Social support