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1.  Male involvement during pregnancy and childbirth: men’s perceptions, practices and experiences during the care for women who developed childbirth complications in Mulago Hospital, Uganda 
Background
Development of appropriate interventions to increase male involvement in pregnancy and childbirth is vital to strategies for improving health outcomes of women with obstetric complications. The objective was to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences of male involvement in their partners’ healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth. The findings might inform interventions for increasing men’s involvement in reproductive health issues.
Methods
We conducted 16 in-depth interviews with men who came to the hospital to attend to their spouses/partners admitted to Mulago National Referral Hospital. All the spouses/partners had developed severe obstetric complications and were admitted in the high dependency unit. We sought to obtain detailed descriptions of men’s experiences, their perception of an ideal “father” and the challenges in achieving this ideal status. We also assessed perceived strategies for increasing male participation in their partners’ healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth. Data was analyzed by content analysis.
Results
The identified themes were: Men have different descriptions of their relationships; responsibility was an obligation; ideal fathers provide support to mothers during childbirth; the health system limits male involvement in childbirth; men have no clear roles during childbirth, and exclusion and alienation in the hospital environment. The men described qualities of the ideal father as one who was available, easily reached, accessible and considerate. Most men were willing to learn about their expected roles during childbirth and were eager to support their partners/wives/spouses during this time. However, they identified personal, relationship, family and community factors as barriers to their involvement. They found the health system unwelcoming, intimidating and unsupportive. Suggestions to improve men’s involvement include creating more awareness for fathers, male-targeted antenatal education and support, and changing provider attitudes.
Conclusions
This study generates information on perceived roles, expectations, experiences and challenges faced by men who wish to be involved in maternal health issues, particularly during pregnancy and childbirth. There is discord between the policy and practice on male involvement in pregnancy and childbirth. Health system factors that are critical to promoting male involvement in women’s health issues during pregnancy and childbirth need to be addressed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-54
PMCID: PMC3916059  PMID: 24479421
2.  Experiences of professional support during pregnancy and childbirth – a qualitative study of women with type 1 diabetes 
Background
Women with type 1 diabetes are at high risk of complications during both pregnancy and childbirth. Stringent monitoring of blood sugar is required in order to improve the chance of giving birth to a healthy child; however, this increases the incidence of severe hypoglycaemia. The aim of this study was to explore the need for and experience of professional support during pregnancy and childbirth among women with type 1 diabetes.
Methods
The study has a lifeworld research approach. Six focus groups and four individual interviews were conducted with 23 women, 6–24 months after delivery. The participants were encouraged to narrate their experiences of pregnancy and childbirth in relation to glycaemic control, well-being and provided care. Data analysis was directed towards discovering qualitative meanings by identifying and clustering meaning units in the text. Further analysis identified eight themes of meaning, classified under pregnancy or childbirth, forming a basis for a final whole interpretation of the explored phenomenon.
Results
The women felt worry about jeopardizing the baby's health and this was sometimes made worse by care providers' manner and lack of competence and support. The increased attention from care providers during pregnancy was experienced as related to the health of the unborn child; not the mothers. Women who during pregnancy received care in a disconnected diabetes organisation were forced to act as messengers between different care providers.
Conclusion
Clarity in terms of defining responsibilities is necessary during pregnancy and childbirth, both among care providers and between the woman and the care provider. Furthermore, a decision must be made concerning how to delegate, transfer or share diabetes responsibility during labour between the care providers and the parents-to-be.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-27
PMCID: PMC2725032  PMID: 19575789
3.  Reshaping maternal services in Nigeria: any need for spiritual care? 
Background
High maternal and perinatal mortalities occur from deliveries conducted in prayer houses in Nigeria. Although some regulatory efforts have been deployed to tackle this problem, less attention has been placed on the possible motivation for seeking prayer house intervention which could be hinged on the spiritual belief of patients about pregnancy and childbirth. This study therefore seeks to determine the perception of booked antenatal patients on spiritual care during pregnancy and their desire for such within hospital setting.
Method
A total of 397 antenatal attendees from two tertiary health institutions in southwest Nigeria were sampled. A pretested questionnaire was used to obtain information on socio-demographic features of respondents, perception of spiritual care during pregnancy and childbirth; and how they desire that their spiritual needs are addressed. Responses were subsequently collated and analyzed.
Results
Most of the women, 301 (75.8%), believe there is a need for spiritual help during pregnancy and childbirth. About half (48.5%) were currently seeking for help in prayer/mission houses while another 8.6% still intended to. Overwhelmingly, 281 (70.8%) felt it was needful for health professionals to consider their spiritual needs. Most respondents, 257 (64.7%), desired that their clergy is allowed to pray with them while in labour and sees such collaboration as incentive that will improve hospital patronage. There was association between high family income and desire for collaboration of healthcare providers with one’s clergy (OR 1.82; CI 1.03-3.21; p = 0.04).
Conclusion
Our women desire spiritual care during pregnancy and childbirth. Its incorporation into maternal health services will improve hospital delivery rates.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-196
PMCID: PMC4057573  PMID: 24902710
Pregnancy; Childbirth; Hospital; Spiritual care
4.  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
5.  BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth reviewer acknowledgement 2014 
Contributing reviewers
The editors of BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 14 (2014).
doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0443-1
PMCID: PMC4331299
6.  Encountering abuse in health care; lifetime experiences in postnatal women - a qualitative study 
Background
Abuse in health care (AHC) has been associated with potential severe health consequences, and has further been related to maternal morbidity and mortality in childbirth. To improve our understanding of what qualifies as AHC and to support and optimise the health of women with these experiences, the objective of this study was to describe how women, who had previously endured AHC, gave meaning to and managed their experience during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the early postnatal period.
Method
Women, who had reported substantial suffering as a result of a previous experience of abuse within the healthcare system, were purposefully selected from a Danish sample of a multinational cohort study on negative life events among pregnant women (the BIDENS Study). Eleven women were interviewed individually by means of a semi-structured interview guide. Transcripts of the interviews were analysed by means of qualitative systematic text condensation analysis.
Results
Four categories were identified to describe the women’s experience of AHC and its consequences on pregnancy and childbirth: abusive acts of unintentional harm, dehumanization, bodily remembrance, and finding the strength to move on. Abuse in health care may have profound consequences on the reproductive lives of the women, among others affecting sexuality, the desire to have children and the expectations of mode of delivery. However, the women described constructive ways to manage the experience, to which healthcare professionals could also contribute significantly.
Conclusions
Regardless of whether AHC is experienced in childhood or adulthood, it can influence the lives of women during pregnancy and childbirth. By recognising the potential existence of AHC, healthcare professionals have a unique opportunity to support women who have experienced AHC.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-74
PMCID: PMC3614521  PMID: 23521853
Abuse in health care; Pregnancy; Childbirth; Dehumanization; Empathy
7.  Quality of intrapartum care by skilled birth attendants in a refugee clinic on the Thai-Myanmar border: a survey using WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment 
Background
Increasing the number of women birthing with skilled birth attendants (SBAs) as one of the strategies to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity must be partnered with a minimum standard of care. This manuscript describes the quality of intrapartum care provided by SBAs in Mae La camp, a low resource, protracted refugee context on the Thai-Myanmar border.
Methods
In the obstetric department of Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) the standardized WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment tool was adapted to the setting and used: to assess the facility; interview SBAs; collect data from maternal records during a one year period (August 2007 – 2008); and observe practice during labour and childbirth.
Results
The facility assessment recorded no ‘out of stock’ or ‘out of date’ drugs and supplies, equipment was in operating order and necessary infrastructure e.g. a stand-by emergency car, was present. Syphilis testing was not available. SBA interviews established that danger signs and symptoms were recognized except for sepsis and endometritis. All SBAs acknowledged receiving theoretical and ‘hands-on’ training and regularly attended deliveries. Scores for the essential elements of antenatal care from maternal records were high (>90%) e.g. providing supplements, recording risk factors as well as regular and correct partogram use. Observed good clinical practice included: presence of a support person; active management of third stage; post-partum monitoring; and immediate and correct neonatal care. Observed incorrect practice included: improper controlled cord traction; inadequate hand washing; an episiotomy rate in nulliparous women 49% (34/70) and low rates 30% (6/20) of newborn monitoring in the first hours following birth. Overall observed complications during labour and birth were low with post-partum haemorrhage being the most common in which case the SBAs followed the protocol but were slow to recognize severity and take action.
Conclusions
In the clinic of SMRU in Mae La refugee camp, SBAs were able to comply with evidence-based guidelines but support to improve quality of care in specific areas is required. The structure of the WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment allowed significant insights into the quality of intrapartum care particularly through direct observation, identifying a clear pathway for quality improvement.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0444-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0444-0
PMCID: PMC4332741  PMID: 25652646
Skilled birth attendant; Health care quality assessment; Pregnancy and childbirth care; Safe motherhood; Refugee setting
8.  Addressing disparities in maternal health care in Pakistan: gender, class and exclusion 
Background
After more than two decades of the Safe Motherhood Initiative and Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing maternal mortality, women continue to die in childbirth at unacceptably high rates in Pakistan. While an extensive literature describes various programmatic strategies, it neglects the rigorous analysis of the reasons these strategies have been unsuccessful, especially for women living at the economic and social margins of society. A critical gap in current knowledge is a detailed understanding of the root causes of disparities in maternal health care, and in particular, how gender and class influence policy formulation and the design and delivery of maternal health care services. Taking Pakistan as a case study, this research builds upon two distinct yet interlinked conceptual approaches to understanding the phenomenon of inequity in access to maternal health care: social exclusion and health systems as social institutions.
Methods/Design
This four year project consists of two interrelated modules that focus on two distinct groups of participants: (1) poor, disadvantaged women and men and (2) policy makers, program managers and health service providers. Module one will employ critical ethnography to understand the key axes of social exclusion as related to gender, class and zaat and how they affect women’s experiences of using maternal health care. Through health care setting observations, interviews and document review, Module two will assess policy design and delivery of maternal health services.
Discussion
This research will provide theoretical advances to enhance understanding of the power dynamics of gender and class that may underlie poor women’s marginalization from health care systems in Pakistan. It will also provide empirical evidence to support formulation of maternal health care policies and health care system practices aimed at reducing disparities in maternal health care in Pakistan. Lastly, it will enhance inter-disciplinary research capacity in the emerging field of social exclusion and maternal health and help reduce social inequities and achieve the Millennium Development Goal No. 5.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-80
PMCID: PMC3490894  PMID: 22871056
Social exclusion; Maternal health; Gender; Caste system; Pakistan; Health care system; Class; Health policy; Pregnancy and childbirth; Antenatal care
9.  Cost-effectiveness of strategies to improve the utilization and provision of maternal and newborn health care in low-income and lower-middle-income countries: a systematic review 
Background
Each year almost 3 million newborns die within the first 28 days of life, 2.6 million babies are stillborn, and 287,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth worldwide. Effective and cost-effective interventions and behaviours for mothers and newborns exist, but their coverage remains inadequate in low- and middle-income countries, where the vast majority of deaths occur. Cost-effective strategies are needed to increase the coverage of life-saving maternal and newborn interventions and behaviours in resource-constrained settings.
Methods
A systematic review was undertaken on the cost-effectiveness of strategies to improve the demand and supply of maternal and newborn health care in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Peer-reviewed and grey literature published since 1990 was searched using bibliographic databases, websites of selected organizations, and reference lists of relevant studies and reviews. Publications were eligible for inclusion if they report on a behavioural or health systems strategy that sought to improve the utilization or provision of care during pregnancy, childbirth or the neonatal period; report on its cost-effectiveness; and were set in one or more low-income or lower-middle-income countries. The quality of the publications was assessed using the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards statement. Incremental cost per life-year saved and per disability-adjusted life-year averted were compared to gross domestic product per capita.
Results
Forty-eight publications were identified, which reported on 43 separate studies. Sixteen were judged to be of high quality. Common themes were identified and the strategies were presented in relation to the continuum of care and the level of the health system. There was reasonably strong evidence for the cost-effectiveness of the use of women’s groups, home-based newborn care using community health workers and traditional birth attendants, adding services to routine antenatal care, a facility-based quality improvement initiative to enhance compliance with care standards, and the promotion of breastfeeding in maternity hospitals. Other strategies reported cost-effectiveness measures that had limited comparability.
Conclusion
Demand and supply-side strategies to improve maternal and newborn health care can be cost-effective, though the evidence is limited by the paucity of high quality studies and the use of disparate cost-effectiveness measures.
Trial registration
PROSPERO_ CRD42012003255.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-243
PMCID: PMC4223592  PMID: 25052536
Cost-effectiveness; Strategy; Intervention; Behaviour change; Service delivery; Maternal and newborn health care; Low-income countries; Lower-middle-income countries
10.  High maternal mortality in rural south-west Ethiopia: estimate by using the sisterhood method 
Background
Estimation of maternal mortality is difficult in developing countries without complete vital registration. The indirect sisterhood method represents an alternative in places where there is high fertility and mortality rates. The objective of the current study was to estimate maternal mortality indices using the sisterhood method in a rural district in south-west Ethiopia.
Method
We interviewed 8,870 adults, 15–49 years age, in 15 randomly selected rural villages of Bonke in Gamo Gofa. By constructing a retrospective cohort of women of reproductive age, we obtained sister units of risk exposure to maternal mortality, and calculated the lifetime risk of maternal mortality. Based on the total fertility for the rural Ethiopian population, the maternal mortality ratio was approximated.
Results
We analyzed 8503 of 8870 (96%) respondents (5262 [62%] men and 3241 ([38%] women). The 8503 respondents reported 22,473 sisters (average = 2.6 sisters for each respondent) who survived to reproductive age. Of the 2552 (11.4%) sisters who had died, 819 (32%) occurred during pregnancy and childbirth. This provided a lifetime risk of 10.2% from pregnancy and childbirth with a corresponding maternal mortality ratio of 1667 (95% CI: 1564–1769) per 100,000 live births. The time period for this estimate was in 1998. Separate analysis for male and female respondents provided similar estimates.
Conclusion
The impoverished rural area of Gamo Gofa had very high maternal mortality in 1998. This highlights the need for strengthening emergency obstetric care for the Bonke population and similar rural populations in Ethiopia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-136
PMCID: PMC3534518  PMID: 23176124
High maternal mortality; Maternal mortality; Sisterhood method; Bonke; Gamo Gofa; Southwest Ethiopia; Ethiopia; Sub-Saharan Africa
11.  The quality of maternity care services as experienced by women in the Netherlands 
Background
Maternity care is all care in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. In the Netherlands maternity care is provided by midwives and general practitioners (GPs) in primary care and midwives and gynecologists in secondary care. To be able to interpret women's experience with the quality of maternity care, it is necessary to take into account their 'care path', that is: their route through the care system.
In the Netherlands a new tool is being developed to evaluate the quality of care from the perspective of clients. The tool is called: 'Consumer Quality Index' or CQI and is, within a standardized and systematic framework, tailored to specific health care issues.
Within the framework of developing a CQI Maternity Care, data were gathered about the care women in the Netherlands received during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. In this paper the quality of maternity care in the Netherlands is presented, as experienced by women at different stages of their care path.
Methods
A sample of 1,248 pregnant clients of four insurance companies, with their due date in early April 2007, received a postal survey in the third trimester of pregnancy (response 793). Responders to the first questionnaire received a second questionnaire twelve weeks later, on average four weeks after delivery (response 632). Based on care provider and place of birth the 'care path' of the women is described. With factor analysis and reliability analysis five composite measures indicating the quality of treatment by the care provider at different stages of the care path have been constructed. Overall ratings relate to eight different aspects of care, varying from antenatal care by a midwife or GP to care related to neonatal screening.
Results
41.5 percent of respondents remained in primary care throughout pregnancy, labor, birth and the postpartum period, receiving care from a midwife or general practitioner, 31.3% of respondents gave birth at home. The majority of women (58.5%) experienced referral from one care provider to another, i.e. from primary to secondary care or reverse, at least once. All but two percent of women had one or more ultrasound scans during pregnancy. The composite measures for the quality of treatment in different settings and by different care providers showed that women, regardless of parity, were very positive about the quality of the maternity care they received. Quality-of-treatment scores were high: on average 3.75 on a scale ranging from 1 to 4. Overall ratings on a 0 – 10 scale for quality of care during the antenatal period and during labor, birth and the postpartum period were high as well, on average 8.36.
Conclusion
The care path of women in maternity care was seldom straight forward. The majority of pregnant women switched from primary to secondary care and back at least once, during pregnancy or during labor and birth or both.
The results of the quality measures indicate that the quality of care as experienced by women is high throughout the care system. But with regard to the care during labor and birth the quality of care scores are higher when women know their care provider, when they give birth at home, when they give birth in primary care and when they are assisted by their own midwife.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-18
PMCID: PMC2689853  PMID: 19426525
12.  Global report on preterm birth and stillbirth (2 of 7): discovery science 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2010;10(Suppl 1):S2.
Background
Normal and abnormal processes of pregnancy and childbirth are poorly understood. This second article in a global report explains what is known about the etiologies of preterm births and stillbirths and identifies critical gaps in knowledge. Two important concepts emerge: the continuum of pregnancy, beginning at implantation and ending with uterine involution following birth; and the multifactorial etiologies of preterm birth and stillbirth. Improved tools and data will enable discovery scientists to identify causal pathways and cost-effective interventions.
Pregnancy and parturition continuum
The biological process of pregnancy and childbirth begins with implantation and, after birth, ends with the return of the uterus to its previous state. The majority of pregnancy is characterized by rapid uterine and fetal growth without contractions. Yet most research has addressed only uterine stimulation (labor) that accounts for <0.5% of pregnancy.
Etiologies
The etiologies of preterm birth and stillbirth differ by gestational age, genetics, and environmental factors. Approximately 30% of all preterm births are indicated for either maternal or fetal complications, such as maternal illness or fetal growth restriction. Commonly recognized pathways leading to preterm birth occur most often during the gestational ages indicated: (1) inflammation caused by infection (22-32 weeks); (2) decidual hemorrhage caused by uteroplacental thrombosis (early or late preterm birth); (3) stress (32-36 weeks); and (4) uterine overdistention, often caused by multiple fetuses (32-36 weeks). Other contributors include cervical insufficiency, smoking, and systemic infections. Many stillbirths have similar causes and mechanisms. About two-thirds of late fetal deaths occur during the antepartum period; the other third occur during childbirth. Intrapartum asphyxia is a leading cause of stillbirths in low- and middle-income countries.
Recommendations
Utilizing new systems biology tools, opportunities now exist for researchers to investigate various pathways important to normal and abnormal pregnancies. Improved access to quality data and biological specimens are critical to advancing discovery science. Phenotypes, standardized definitions, and uniform criteria for assessing preterm birth and stillbirth outcomes are other immediate research needs.
Conclusion
Preterm birth and stillbirth have multifactorial etiologies. More resources must be directed toward accelerating our understanding of these complex processes, and identifying upstream and cost-effective solutions that will improve these pregnancy outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC2841774  PMID: 20233383
13.  Knowledge about safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS among school pupils in a rural area in Tanzania 
Background
The majority of adolescents in Africa experience pregnancy, childbirth and enter motherhood without adequate information about maternal health issues. Information about these issues could help them reduce their pregnancy related health risks. Existing studies have concentrated on adolescents' knowledge of other areas of reproductive health, but little is known about their awareness and knowledge of safe motherhood issues. We sought to bridge this gap by assessing the knowledge of school pupils regarding safe motherhood in Mtwara Region, Tanzania.
Methods
We used qualitative and quantitative descriptive methods to assess school pupils' knowledge of safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS in pregnancy. An anonymous questionnaire was used to assess the knowledge of 135 pupils ranging in age from 9 to 17 years. The pupils were randomly selected from 3 primary schools. Underlying beliefs and attitudes were assessed through focus group interviews with 35 school children. Key informant interviews were conducted with six schoolteachers, two community leaders, and two health staffs.
Results
Knowledge about safe motherhood and other related aspects was generally low. While 67% of pupils could not mention the age at which a girl may be able to conceive, 80% reported it is safe for a girl to be married before she reaches 18 years. Strikingly, many school pupils believed that complications during pregnancy and childbirth are due to non-observance of traditions and taboos during pregnancy. Birth preparedness, important risk factors, danger signs, postpartum care and vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS and its prevention measures were almost unknown to the pupils.
Conclusion
Poor knowledge of safe motherhood issues among school pupils in rural Tanzania is related to lack of effective and coordinated interventions to address reproductive health and motherhood. For long-term and sustained impact, school children must be provided with appropriate safe motherhood information as early as possible through innovative school-based interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-5
PMCID: PMC1868762  PMID: 17456230
14.  Husbands' involvement in delivery care utilization in rural Bangladesh: A qualitative study 
Background
A primary cause of high maternal mortality in Bangladesh is lack of access to professional delivery care. Examining the role of the family, particularly the husband, during pregnancy and childbirth is important to understanding women's access to and utilization of professional maternal health services that can prevent maternal mortality. This qualitative study examines husbands' involvement during childbirth and professional delivery care utilization in a rural sub-district of Netrokona district, Bangladesh.
Methods
Using purposive sampling, ten households utilizing a skilled attendant during the birth of the youngest child were selected and matched with ten households utilizing an untrained traditional birth attendant, or dhatri. Households were selected based on a set of inclusion criteria, such as approximate household income, ethnicity, and distance to the nearest hospital. Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted in Bangla with husbands in these households in June 2010. Interviews were transcribed, translated into English, and analyzed using NVivo 9.0.
Results
By purposefully selecting households that differed on the type of provider utilized during delivery, common themes--high costs, poor transportation, and long distances to health facilities--were eliminated as sufficient barriers to the utilization of professional delivery care. Divergent themes, namely husbands' social support and perceived social norms, were identified as underlying factors associated with delivery care utilization. We found that husbands whose wives utilized professional delivery care provided emotional, instrumental and informational support to their wives during delivery and believed that medical intervention was necessary. By contrast, husbands whose wives utilized an untrained dhatri at home were uninvolved during delivery and believed childbirth should take place at home according to local traditions.
Conclusions
This study provides novel evidence about male involvement during childbirth in rural Bangladesh. These findings have important implications for program planners, who should pursue culturally sensitive ways to involve husbands in maternal health interventions and assess the effectiveness of education strategies targeted at husbands.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-28
PMCID: PMC3364886  PMID: 22494576
15.  Opportunities and challenges in implementing community based skilled birth attendance strategy in Kenya 
Background
Availability of skilled care at birth remains a major problem in most developing countries. In an effort to increase access to skilled birth attendance, the Kenyan government implemented the community midwifery programme in 2005. The aim of this programme was to increase women’s access to skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum within their communities.
Methods
Qualitative research involving in-depth interviews with 20 community midwives and six key informants. The key informants were funder, managers, coordinators and supervisors of the programme. Interviews were conducted between June to July, 2011 in two districts in Western and Central provinces of Kenya.
Results
Findings showed major challenges and opportunities in implementing the community midwifery programme. Challenges of the programme were: socio-economic issues, unavailability of logistics, problems of transportation for referrals and insecurity. Participants also identified the advantages of having midwives in the community which were provision of individualised care; living in the same community with clients which made community midwives easily accessible; and flexible payment options.
Conclusions
Although the community midwifery model is a culturally acceptable method to increase skilled birth attendance in Kenya, the use of skilled birth attendance however remains disproportionately lower among poor mothers. Despite several governmental efforts to increase access and coverage of delivery services to the poor, it is clear that the poor may still not access skilled care even with skilled birth attendants residing in the community due to several socio-economic barriers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-279) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-279
PMCID: PMC4262243  PMID: 25128479
Community based skilled birth attendance; Skilled birth attendants; Community midwifery; Kenya; Maternal health; Safe motherhood; MDG5
16.  Stakeholder views on the incorporation of traditional birth attendants into the formal health systems of low-and middle-income countries: a qualitative analysis of the HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 email discussion forums 
Background
Health workforce shortages are key obstacles to the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Task shifting is seen as a way to improve access to pregnancy and childbirth care. However, the role of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) within task shifting initiatives remains contested. The objective of this study was to explore stakeholder views and justifications regarding the incorporation of TBAs into formal health systems.
Methods
Data were drawn from messages submitted to the HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 email discussion forums. The forums focus on the healthcare information needs of frontline health workers and citizens in low - and middle-income countries, and how these needs can be met, and also include discussion of diverse aspects of health systems. Messages about TBAs submitted between 2007-2011 were analysed thematically.
Results
We identified 658 messages about TBAs from a total of 193 participants. Most participants supported the incorporation of trained TBAs into primary care systems to some degree, although their justifications for doing so varied. Participant viewpoints were influenced by the degree to which TBA involvement was seen as a long-term or short-term solution and by the tasks undertaken by TBAs.
Conclusions
Many forum members indicated that they were supportive of trained TBAs being involved in the provision of pregnancy care. Members noted that TBAs were already frequently used by women and that alternative options were lacking. However, a substantial minority regarded doing so as a threat to the quality and equity of healthcare. The extent of TBA involvement needs to be context-specific and should be based on evidence on effectiveness as well as evidence on need, acceptability and feasibility.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-118
PMCID: PMC3986654  PMID: 24674648
Traditional birth attendant; TBA; Qualitative; Community health worker; Health manpower; Social media
17.  Prevalence and determinants of unintended childbirth in Ethiopia 
Background
Ethiopia’s population policy specifically aims to reduce TFR from 7.7 to 4.0 and to increase contraceptive use from 4.0% to 44.0% between 1990 and 2015. In 2011, the use of contraceptive methods increased seven-fold from 4.0% to 27%; and the TFR declined by 38% to 4.8. The use of modern contraceptives is, however, much higher in the capital Addis Ababa (56%) and other urban areas but very low in rural areas (23%) far below the national average (27%). In 2011, one in four Ethiopian women had an unmet need for contraception. The main aim of this study was to assess the pattern and examine the socioeconomic and demographic correlates of unintended childbirth among women 15-49 years in Ethiopia.
Methods
Data from the 2011 nationally representative Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey are used. It covered 16,515 women of which 7,759 had at least one birth and thus included for this study. Multivariate logistic regression is used to see the net effects of each explanatory variable over the outcome variable.
Results
The study found that nearly one in three (32%) births was unintended; and about two-thirds of these were mistimed. The regression model shows that the burden of unintended births in Ethiopia falls more heavily on young, unmarried, higher wealth, high parity, and ethnic majority women and those with less than secondary education and with large household size. These variables showed statistical significance with the outcome variable.
Conclusion
The study found a relatively high prevalence of unintended childbirth in Ethiopia and this implies high levels of unmet need for child spacing and limiting. There is much need for better targeted family planning programs and strategies to strengthen and improve access to contraceptive services, to raise educational levels, and related information and communication particularly for those affected groups including young, unmarried, multipara, and those with less than secondary level of education. Further quantitative and qualitative research on the consequences of unintended pregnancy and childbirth related to prenatal and perinatal outcomes are vital to document process of change in the problem overtime.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-326
PMCID: PMC4190466  PMID: 25233950
Women; Unintended pregnancy; Determinants
18.  Reviewer acknowledgement 2013 
Contributing Reviewers
The editors of BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 13 (2013).
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-18
PMCID: PMC3907128
19.  A randomized controlled trial of pre-conception treatment for periodontal disease to improve periodontal status during pregnancy and birth outcomes 
Background
Evidence has suggested that periodontal disease is associated with an increased risk of various adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes. However, several large clinical randomized controlled trials failed to demonstrate periodontal therapy during pregnancy reduced the incidence of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes. It has been suggested that the pre-conception period may be an optimal period for periodontal disease treatment rather than during pregnancy. To date, no randomized controlled trial (RCT) has examined if treating periodontal disease before pregnancy reduces adverse birth outcomes. This study aims to examine if the pre-conception treatment of periodontal disease will lead to improved periodontal status during late pregnancy and subsequent birth outcomes.
Methods/Design
A sample of 470 (235 in each arm of the study) pre-conception women who plan to conceive within one year and with periodontal disease will be recruited for the study. All participants will be randomly allocated to the intervention or control group. The intervention group will receive free therapy including dental scaling and root planning (the standard therapy), supragingival prophylaxis, and oral hygiene education. The control group will only receive supragingival prophylaxis and oral hygiene education. Women will be followed throughout their pregnancy and then to childbirth. The main outcomes include periodontal disease status in late pregnancy and birth outcomes measured such as mean birth weight (grams), and mean gestational age (weeks). Periodontal disease will be diagnosed through a dental examination by measuring probing depth, clinical attachment loss and percentage of bleeding on probing (BOP) between gestational age of 32 and 36 weeks. Local and systemic inflammatory mediators are also included as main outcomes.
Discussion
This will be the first RCT to test whether treating periodontal disease among pre-conception women reduces periodontal disease during pregnancy and prevents adverse birth outcomes. If the effect of pre-pregnancy periodontal treatment is confirmed, this intervention could be recommended for application in low- or middle-income countries to improve both oral health and maternal and child health.
Trial registration
This trial is registered with Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (ChiCTR): ChiCTR-TRC-12001913.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-228
PMCID: PMC4029591  PMID: 24321402
Pre-conception; Periodontal disease; Birth outcomes; Inflammatory mediators
20.  Annual acknowledgement of reviewers 
Contributing reviewers
The editors of BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 12 (2012).
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-28
PMCID: PMC3582426
21.  Factors influencing the use of antenatal care in rural West Sumatra, Indonesia 
Background
Every year, nearly half a million women and girls needlessly die as a result of complications during pregnancy, childbirth or the 6 weeks following delivery. Almost all (99%) of these deaths occur in developing countries. The study aim was to describe the factors related to low visits for antenatal care (ANC) services among pregnant women in Indonesia.
Method
A total of 145 of 200 married women of reproductive age who were pregnant or had experienced birth responded to the questionnaire about their ANC visits. We developed a questionnaire containing 35 items and four sections. Section one and two included the women's socio demographics, section three about basic knowledge of pregnancy and section four contained two subsections about preferences about midwives and preferences about Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) and the second subsections were traditional beliefs. Data were collected using a convenience sampling strategy during July and August 2010, from 10 villages in the Tanjung Emas. Multiple regression analysis was used for preference for types of providers.
Results
Three-quarter of respondents (77.9%) received ANC more than four times. The other 22.1% received ANC less than four times. 59.4% received ANC visits during pregnancy, which was statistically significant compared to multiparous (p = 0.001). Women who were encouraged by their family to receive ANC had statistically significant higher traditional belief scores compared to those who encouraged themselves (p = 0.003). Preference for TBAs was most strongly affected by traditional beliefs (p < 0.001). On the contrary, preference for midwives was negatively correlated with traditional beliefs (p < 0.001).
Conclusions
Parity was the factor influencing women's receiving less than the recommended four ANC visits during pregnancy. Women who were encouraged by their family to get ANC services had higher traditional beliefs score than women who encouraged themselves. Moreover, traditional beliefs followed by lower income families had the greater influence over preferring TBAs, with the opposite trend for preferring midwives. Increased attention needs to be given to the women; it also very important for exploring women's perceptions about health services that they received.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-9
PMCID: PMC3298506  PMID: 22353252
Pregnant women; Traditional birth attendant and traditional beliefs
22.  Maternal mortality in Kassala State - Eastern Sudan: community-based study using Reproductive age mortality survey (RAMOS) 
Background
The maternal mortality ratio in Sudan was estimated at 750/100,000 live births. Sudan was one of eleven countries that are responsible for 65% of global maternal deaths according to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) estimate. Maternal mortality in Kassala State was high in national demographic surveys. This study was conducted to investigate the causes and contributing factors of maternal deaths and to identify any discrepancies in rates and causes between different areas.
Methods
A reproductive age mortality survey (RAMOS) was conducted to study maternal mortality in Kassala State. Deaths of women of reproductive age (WRA) in four purposively selected areas were identified by interviewing key informants in each village followed by verbal autopsy.
Results
Over a three-year period, 168 maternal deaths were identified among 26,066 WRA. Verbal autopsies were conducted in 148 (88.1%) of these cases. Of these, 64 (43.2%) were due to pregnancy and childbirth complications. Maternal mortality rates and ratios were 80.6 per 100,000 WRA and 713.6 per 100,000 live births (LB), respectively. There was a wide discrepancy between urban and rural maternal mortality ratios (369 and 872\100,000 LB, respectively). Direct obstetric causes were responsible for 58.4% of deaths. Severe anemia (20.3%) and acute febrile illness (9.4%) were the major indirect causes of maternal death whereas obstetric hemorrhage (15.6%), obstructed labor (14.1%) and puerperal sepsis (10.9%) were the major obstetric causes.
Of the contributing factors, we found delay of referral in 73.4% of cases in spite of a high problem recognition rate (75%). 67.2% of deaths occurred at home, indicating under utilization of health facilities, and transportation problems were found in 54.7% of deaths.
There was a high illiteracy rate among the deceased and their husbands (62.5% and 48.4%, respectively).
Conclusions
Maternal mortality rates and ratios were found to be high, with a wide variation between urban and rural populations. Direct causes of maternal death were similar to those in developing countries. To reduce this high maternal mortality rate we recommend improving provision of emergency obstetric care (Emoc) in all health facilities, expanding midwifery training and coverage especially in rural areas.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-102
PMCID: PMC3260097  PMID: 22171988
23.  Effect of physical activity intervention based on a pedometer on physical activity level and anthropometric measures after childbirth: a randomized controlled trial 
Background
Pregnancy and childbirth are associated with weight gain in women, and retention of weight gained during pregnancy can lead to obesity in later life. Diet and physical activity are factors that can influence the loss of retained pregnancy weight after birth. Exercise guidelines exist for pregnancy, but recommendations for exercise after childbirth are virtually nonexistent. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of physical activity intervention based on pedometer on physical activity level and anthropometric measures of women after childbirth.
Methods
We conducted a randomized controlled trial in which 66 women who had given birth 6 weeks to 6 months prior were randomly assigned to receive either a 12 week tailored program encouraging increased walking using a pedometer (intervention group, n = 32) or routine postpartum care (control group, n = 34). During the 12-week study period, each woman in the intervention group wore a pedometer and recorded her daily step count. The women were advised to increase their steps by 500 per week until they achieved the first target of 5000 steps per day and then continued to increase it to minimum of 10,000 steps per day by the end of 12th week. Assessed outcomes included anthropometric measures, physical activity level, and energy expenditure per week. Data were analyzed using the paired t-test, independent t-test, Mann-Whitney, chi-square, Wilcoxon, covariance analysis, and the general linear model repeated measures procedure as appropriate.
Results
After 12 weeks, women in the intervention group had significantly increased their physical activity and energy expenditure per week (4394 vs. 1651 calorie, p < 0.001). Significant differences between-group in weight (P = 0.001), Body Mass Index (P = 0.001), waist circumference (P = 0.001), hip circumference (P = 0.032) and waist-hip ratio (P = 0.02) were presented after the intervention. The intervention group significantly increased their mean daily step count over the study period (from 3249 before, to 9960 after the intervention, p < 0.001).
Conclusion
A physical activity intervention based on pedometer is an effective means to increase physical activity; reducing retention of weight gained during pregnancy and can improve anthropometric measures in postpartum women.
Trial registration
ISRCTN: IRCT201105026362N1
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-103
PMCID: PMC3292461  PMID: 22176722
24.  Systematic review of the magnitude and case fatality ratio for severe maternal morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa between 1995 and 2010 
Background
Analysis of severe maternal morbidity (maternal near misses) provides information on the quality of care. We assessed the prevalence/incidence of maternal near miss, maternal mortality and case fatality ratio through systematic review of studies on severe maternal morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods
We examined studies that reported prevalence/incidence of severe maternal morbidity (maternal near misses) during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum period between 1996 and 2010. We evaluated the quality of studies (objectives, study design, population studied, setting and context, definition of severe acute obstetric morbidity and data collection instruments). We extracted data, using a pre-defined protocol and criteria, and estimated the prevalence or incidence of maternal near miss. The case-fatality ratios for reported maternal complications were estimated.
Results
We identified 12 studies: six were cross-sectional, five were prospective and one was a retrospective review of medical records. There was variation in the setting: while some studies were health facility-based (at the national referral hospital, regional hospital or various district hospitals), others were community-based studies. The sample size varied from 557 women to 23,026. Different definitions and terminologies for maternal near miss included acute obstetric complications, severe life threatening obstetric complications and severe obstetric complications. The incidence/prevalence ratio and case-fatality ratio for maternal near misses ranged from 1.1%-10.1% and 3.1%-37.4% respectively. Ruptured uterus, sepsis, obstructed labor and hemorrhage were the commonest morbidities that were analyzed. The incidence/prevalence ratio of hemorrhage ranged from 0.06% to 3.05%, while the case fatality ratio for hemorrhage ranged from 2.8% to 27.3%. The prevalence/incidence ratio for sepsis ranged from 0.03% to 0.7%, while the case fatality ratio ranged from 0.0% to 72.7%.
Conclusion
The incidence/prevalence ratio and case fatality ratio of maternal near misses are very high in studies from sub-Saharan Africa. Large differences exist between countries on the prevalence/incidence of maternal near misses. This could be due to different contexts/settings, variation in the criteria used to define the maternal near misses morbidity, or rigor used carrying out the study. Future research on maternal near misses should adopt the WHO recommendation on classification of maternal morbidity and mortality.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-65
PMCID: PMC3203082  PMID: 21955698
25.  High maternal mortality estimated by the sisterhood method in a rural area of Mali 
Background
Maternal mortality is high in Mali. Nevertheless, there are few studies on this topic from rural areas, and current estimates are mostly based on studies from urban settings. Our objective was to estimate the maternal mortality ratio in Kita, rural Mali.
Methods
Using the "sisterhood method", we interviewed participants aged 15-50 years from 20 villages in Kita, Mali, and thereby created a retrospective cohort of their sisters in reproductive age. Based on population and fertility estimates, we calculated the lifetime risk of maternal death, and from that the estimated approximate maternal mortality ratio.
Results
The 2,039 respondents reported 4,628 sisters who had reached reproductive age. Of these 4,628 sisters, almost a third (1,233; 27%) had died, and 429 (9%) had died during pregnancy or childbirth. This corresponded to a lifetime risk of maternal death of 20% and a maternal mortality ratio of 3,131 per 100,000 live births (95% confidence interval 2,967-3,296), with a time reference around 1999.
Conclusions
We found a very high maternal mortality in rural Mali and this highlights the urgent need for obstetric services in the remote rural areas.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-56
PMCID: PMC3161002  PMID: 21812951
maternal mortality; rural; sisterhood method; Mali

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