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.
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.
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.
Social exclusion; Maternal health; Gender; Caste system; Pakistan; Health care system; Class; Health policy; Pregnancy and childbirth; Antenatal care
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Pregnant women; Traditional birth attendant and traditional beliefs
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
Congenital anomalies and their primary prevention are a crucial public health issue. This work aimed to estimate the prevalence of congenital anomalies in Brindisi, a city in southeastern Italy at high risk of environmental crisis.
This research concerned newborns up to 28 days of age, born between 2001 and 2010 to mothers resident in Brindisi and discharged with a diagnosis of congenital anomaly. We classified cases according to the coding system adopted by the European Network for the Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies (EUROCAT). Prevalence rates of congenital anomalies in Brindisi were compared with those reported by EUROCAT. Logistic regression models were adapted to evaluate the association between congenital anomalies and municipality of residence of the mother during pregnancy.
Out of 8,503 newborns we recorded 194 subjects with congenital anomalies (228.2/10,000 total births), 1.2 times higher than the one reported by the EUROCAT pool of registries. We observed 83 subjects with congenital heart diseases with an excess of 49.1%. Odds Ratios for congenital heart diseases significantly increased for newborns to mothers resident in Brindisi (OR 1.75 CI 95% 1.30-2.35).
Our findings indicated an increased prevalence of Congenital Anomalies (especially congenital heart diseases) in the city of Brindisi. More research is needed in order to analyze the role of factors potentially involved in the causation of congenital anomalies.
Congenital anomalies; Hospital discharge data; Surveillance of birth defects; Registers of congenital anomalies
Studies report mixed findings about rates of both exclusive and partial breastfeeding amongst women who are migrants or refugees in high income countries. It is important to understand the beliefs and experiences that impact on migrant and refugee women’s infant feeding decisions in order to appropriately support women to breastfeed in a new country. The aim of this paper is to report the findings of a meta-ethnographic study that explored migrant and refugee women’s experiences and practices related to breastfeeding in a new country.
CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, SCOPUS and the Cochrane Library with Full Text databases were searched for the period January 2000 to May 2012. Out of 2355 papers retrieved 11 met the inclusion criteria. A meta-ethnographic synthesis was undertaken using the analytic strategies and theme synthesis techniques of reciprocal translation and refutational investigation. Quality appraisal was undertaken using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tool.
Eight qualitative studies and three studies reporting both qualitative and quantitative data were included and one overarching theme emerged: ‘Breastfeeding in a new country: facing contradictions and conflict’. This theme comprised four sub-themes ‘Mother’s milk is best’; ‘Contradictions and conflict in breastfeeding practices’; ‘Producing breast milk requires energy and good health’; and ‘The dominant role of female relatives’. Migrant women who valued, but did not have access to, traditional postpartum practices, were more likely to cease breastfeeding. Women reported a clash between their individual beliefs and practices and the dominant practices in the new country, and also a tension with family members either in the country of origin or in the new country.
Migrant women experience tensions in their breastfeeding experience and require support from professionals who can sensitively address their individual needs. Strategies to engage grandmothers in educational opportunities may offer a novel approach to breastfeeding support.
Meta-ethnography; Breastfeeding; Migrant; Immigrant; Refugee; Colostrum; Qualitative research
Current recommendations do not support the use of continuous electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) for low risk women during labour, yet EFM remains widespread in clinical practice. Consideration of the views, perspectives and experiences of individuals directly concerned with EFM application may be beneficial for identifying barriers to and facilitators for implementing evidence-based maternity care. The aim of this paper is to offer insight and understanding, through systematic review and thematic analysis, of research into professionals’ views on fetal heart rate monitoring during labour.
Any study whose aim was to explore professional views of fetal monitoring during labour was considered eligible for inclusion. The electronic databases of MEDLINE (1966–2010), CINAHL (1980–2010), EMBASE (1974–2010) and Maternity and Infant Care: MIDIRS (1971–2010) were searched in January 2010 and an updated search was performed in March 2012. Quality appraisal of each included study was performed. Data extraction tables were developed to collect data. Data synthesis was by thematic analysis.
Eleven studies, including 1,194 participants, were identified and included in this review. Four themes emerged from the data: 1) reassurance, 2) technology, 3) communication/education and 4) midwife by proxy.
This systematic review and thematic analysis offers insight into some of the views of professionals on fetal monitoring during labour. It provides evidence for the continuing use of EFM when caring for low-risk women, contrary to current research evidence. Further research to ascertain how some of these views might be addressed to ensure the provision of evidence-based care for women and their babies is recommended.
Fetal monitoring; Pregnancy; Labour; Views
Hyperglycemia in pregnancy is associated with poor perinatal outcome. Even if pregnant women with diabetes are monitored according to current guidelines, they do much worse than their normoglycaemic counterparts, marked by increased risks of pre-eclampsia, macrosomia, and caesarean section amongst others. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a new method providing detailed information on daily fluctuations, used to optimize glucose control. Whether this tool improves pregnancy outcome remains unclear. In the present protocol, we aim to assess the effect of CGM use in diabetic pregnancies on pregnancy outcome.
The GlucoMOMS trial is a multicenter open label randomized clinical trial with a decision and cost-effectiveness study alongside. Pregnant women aged 18 and over with either diabetes mellitus type 1 or 2 on insulin therapy or with gestational diabetes requiring insulin therapy before 30 weeks of gestation will be asked to participate. Consenting women will be randomly allocated to either usual care or complementary CGM. All women will determine their glycaemic control by self-monitoring of blood glucose levels and HbA1c. In addition, women allocated to CGM will use it for 5–7 days every six weeks. Based on their CGM profiles they receive dietary advice and insulin therapy adjustments if necessary. The primary outcome measure is rate of macrosomia, defined as a birth weight above the 90th centile. Secondary outcome measures will be birth weight, composite neonatal morbidity, maternal outcome and costs. The analyses will be according to the intention to treat principle.
With this trial we aim at clarifying whether the CGM improves pregnancy outcome when used during diabetic pregnancies.
Nederlands Trial Register: NTR2996
Diabetes; Pregnancy; Continuous glucose monitor; Macrosomia; Effectiveness
The proportions of preterm birth (PTB, ie., delivered before 37 gestational weeks) and low birth weight (LBW, ie., birth weight less than 2500 g at delivery) have been rising in developed countries. We sought to examine the factors contributing to the rise in Japan, with particular focus on the effects of obstetric interventions.
We used a database maintained by one large regional hospital in Shizuoka, Japan. We restricted the analysis to mothers who delivered live singleton births from 1997 to 2010 (n = 19,221). We assessed the temporal trends in PTB and LBW, then divided the study period into four intervals and compared the proportions of PTB and LBW. We also compared the newborns’ outcomes between the intervals.
PTB, in particular medically indicated PTB, increased considerably. The increase was largely explained by changes in caesarean sections. The neonatal outcomes did not worsen, and instead the Apgar scores and proportions requiring neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission improved. In particular, the risks of NICU admission in the interval from 2007 to 2010 were decreased among all births [odds ratio (OR): 0.84; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.75, 0.95] and medically indicated births (OR: 0.44; 95% CI: 0.29, 0.68) compared with the interval from 1997 to 2000.
Despite the increases in PTB as well as LBW, the present study suggests benefits of obstetric interventions. Rather than simple categorization of PTB or LBW, indicators such as perinatal mortality or other outcomes may be more appropriate for evaluation of perinatal health in developed countries.
Caesarean section; Low birth weight; Pregnancy; Preterm birth; Reproductive health
Genetic susceptibility to tobacco smoke might modify the effect of smoking on pregnancy outcomes.
We conducted a case–control study of 543 women who delivered singleton live births in Kaunas (Lithuania), examining the association between low-level tobacco smoke exposure (mean: 4.8 cigarettes/day) during pregnancy, GSTT1 and GSTM1 polymorphisms and birthweight of the infant. Multiple linear-regression analysis was performed adjusting for gestational age, maternal education, family status, body mass index, blood pressure, and parity. Subsequently, we tested for the interaction effect of maternal smoking, GSTT1 and GSTM1 genes polymorphisms with birthweight by adding all the product terms in the regression models.
The findings suggested a birthweight reduction among light-smoking with the GSTT1–null genotype (−162.9 g, P = 0.041) and those with the GSTM1–null genotype (−118.7 g, P = 0.069). When a combination of these genotypes was considered, birthweight was significantly lower for infants of smoking women the carriers of the double-null genotypes (−311.2 g, P = 0.008). The interaction effect of maternal smoking, GSTM1 and GSTT1 genotypes was marginally significant on birthweight (−234.5 g, P = 0.078). Among non-smokers, genotype did not independently confer an adverse effect on infant birthweight.
The study shows the GSTT1–null genotype, either presents only one or both with GSTM1–null genotype in a single subject, have a modifying effect on birthweight among smoking women even though their smoking is low level. Our data also indicate that identification of the group of susceptible subjects should be based on both environmental exposure and gene polymorphism. Findings of this study add additional evidence on the interplay among two key GST genes and maternal smoking on birth weight of newborns.
Birthweight; GST polymorphisms; Smoking; Interaction
Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are associated with systemic endothelial dysfunction leading to impaired physiological vasodilation. Recent evidence has shown central aortic pressures obtained through pulse wave analysis, at less than 14 weeks of gestation, to be predictive of pre-eclampsia. In light of this, we aimed to evaluate the role of central aortic stiffness in the prediction and discrimination of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy.
A cohort study of women with viable, singleton pregnancies at less than 14 weeks of amenorrhoea, and without multiple pregnancies, autoimmune or renal disease, diagnosed with aneuploidy or fetal anomaly will be recruited from a single maternity hospital and followed up till delivery and puerperium. A targeted sample size of 1000 eligible pregnant women will be enrolled into the study from antenatal clinics. Main exposure under study is central aortic pulse pressure using radial pulse wave recording, and the outcomes under follow-up are gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Other measures include lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical exercise, psychometric evaluations, vasoactive factors, uterine artery pulsatility index, height and weight measurements. These measures will be repeated over 4 antenatal visits at 11-14, 18-22, 28-32 and above 34 weeks of gestation. Double data entry will be performed on Microsoft Access, and analysis of data will include the use of random effect models and receiver operating characteristic curves on Stata 11.2.
The proposed study design will enable a longitudinal evaluation of the central aortic pressure changes as a marker for vascular compliance during pregnancy. As measures are repeated over time, the timing and severity of changes are detectable, and findings may yield important information on how aberrant vascular responses occur and its role in the early detection and prediction of hypertensive disorders.
Central aortic pulse pressure; Pulsewave analysis; Pregnancy hypertensive disorders
Indigenous Australians are a small, widely dispersed population. Regarding childbearing women and infants, inequities in service delivery and culturally unsafe services contribute to significantly poorer outcomes, with a lack of high-level research to guide service redesign. This paper reports on an Evaluation of a specialist (Murri) antenatal clinic for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
A triangulated mixed method approach generated and analysed data from a range of sources: individual and focus group interviews; surveys; mother and infant audit data; and routinely collected data. A retrospective analysis compared clinical outcomes of women who attended the Murri clinic (n=367) with Indigenous women attending standard care (n=414) provided by the same hospital over the same period. Both services see women of all risk status.
The majority of women attending the Murri clinic reported high levels of satisfaction, specifically with continuity of carer antenatally. However, disappointment with the lack of continuity during labour/birth and postnatally left some women feeling abandoned and uncared for. Compared to Indigenous women attending standard care, those attending the Murri clinic were statistically less likely to be primiparous or partnered, to experience perineal trauma, to have an epidural and to have a baby admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and were more likely to have a non-instrumental vaginal birth. Multivariate analysis found higher normal birth (spontaneous onset of labour, no epidural, non-instrumental vaginal birth without episiotomy) rates amongst women attending the Murri clinic.
Significant benefits were associated with attending the Murri clinic. Recommendations for improvement included ongoing cultural competency training for all hospital staff, reducing duplication of services, improving co-ordination and communication between community and tertiary services, and working in partnership with community-based providers. Combining multi-agency resources to increase continuity of carer, culturally responsive care, and capacity building, including creating opportunities for Indigenous employment, education, and training is desirable, but challenging. Empirical evidence from our Evaluation provided the leverage for a multi-agency agreement to progress this goal within our catchment area.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Indigenous Australian; Antenatal; Maternity; Midwifery; Culturally responsive; Model of care; Evaluation; Multi-agency
An increase in the number of women with maternal obesity (Body Mass Index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2) has had a huge impact on the delivery of maternity services. As part of a programme of feasibility work to design an antenatal lifestyle programme for women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2, the current study explored health professionals’ experiences of caring for women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 and their views of the proposed lifestyle programme.
Semi-structured interviews with 30 health professionals (including midwives, sonographers, anaesthetists and obstetricians) were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis. Recruitment occurred in two areas in the North West of England in early 2011.
Three themes were evident. Firstly, obesity was seen as a conversation stopper; obesity can be a challenge to discuss. Secondly, obesity was seen as a maternity issue; obesity has a direct impact on maternity care and therefore intervention is needed. Finally, the long-term impact of maternal obesity intervention; lifestyle advice in pregnancy has the potential to break the cyclic obesity relationship. The health professionals believed that antenatal lifestyle advice can play a key role in addressing the public health issue of obesity as pregnancy is a time of increased motivation for women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2.
Maternal obesity is a challenge and details of the training content required for health professionals to feel confident to approach the issue of maternal obesity with women are presented. Support for the antenatal lifestyle programme for women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 highlights the need for further exploration of the impact of interventions on health promotion.
Maternal obesity; Health professionals; Qualitative research; Communication; Training needs
Clean birth practices can prevent sepsis, one of the leading causes of both maternal and newborn mortality. Evidence suggests that clean birth kits (CBKs), as part of package that includes education, are associated with a reduction in newborn mortality, omphalitis, and puerperal sepsis. However, questions remain about how best to approach the introduction of CBKs in country. We set out to develop a practical decision support tool for programme managers of public health systems who are considering the potential role of CBKs in their strategy for care at birth.
Development and testing of the decision support tool was a three-stage process involving an international expert group and country level testing. Stage 1, the development of the tool was undertaken by the Birth Kit Working Group and involved a review of the evidence, a consensus meeting, drafting of the proposed tool and expert review. In Stage 2 the tool was tested with users through interviews (9) and a focus group, with federal and provincial level decision makers in Pakistan. In Stage 3 the findings from the country level testing were reviewed by the expert group.
The decision support tool comprised three separate algorithms to guide the policy maker or programme manager through the specific steps required in making the country level decision about whether to use CBKs. The algorithms were supported by a series of questions (that could be administered by interview, focus group or questionnaire) to help the decision maker identify the information needed. The country level testing revealed that the decision support tool was easy to follow and helpful in making decisions about the potential role of CBKs. Minor modifications were made and the final algorithms are presented.
Testing of the tool with users in Pakistan suggests that the tool facilitates discussion and aids decision making. However, testing in other countries is needed to determine whether these results can be replicated and to identify how the tool can be adapted to meet country specific needs.
Clean birth practices; Birth kits; Decision support tool
Asians are at increased risk of morbidity at a lower body mass index (BMI) than European Whites, particularly relating to metabolic risk. UK maternal obesity guidelines use general population BMI criteria to define obesity, which do not represent the risk of morbidity among Asian populations. This study compares incidence of first trimester obesity using Asian-specific and general population BMI criteria.
A retrospective epidemiological study of 502,474 births between 1995 and 2007, from 34 maternity units across England. Data analyses included a comparison of trends over time between ethnic groups using Asian-specific and general population BMI criteria. Logistic regression estimated odds ratios for first trimester obesity among ethnic groups following adjustment for population demographics.
Black and South Asian women have a higher incidence of first trimester obesity compared with White women. This is most pronounced for Pakistani women following adjustment for population structure (OR 2.19, 95% C.I. 2.08, 2.31). There is a twofold increase in the proportion of South Asian women classified as obese when using the Asian-specific BMI criteria rather than general population BMI criteria. The incidence of obesity among Black women is increasing at the most rapid rate over time (p=0.01).
The twofold increase in maternal obesity among South Asians when using Asian-specific BMI criteria highlights inequalities among pregnant women. A large proportion of South Asian women are potentially being wrongly assigned to low risk care using current UK guidelines to classify obesity and determine care requirements. Further research is required to identify if there is any improvement in pregnancy outcomes if Asian-specific BMI criteria are utilised in the clinical management of maternal obesity to ensure the best quality of care is provided for women irrespective of ethnicity.
Obesity; Pregnancy; Epidemiology; Inequalities; Ethnic group; Asian; Guidelines; Body Mass Index (BMI)
Women in low-income countries are generally considered to have a high physical workload which is sustained during pregnancy. Although most previous studies have been based on questionnaires a recent meta-analysis of doubly labeled water data has raised questions about the actual amount of physical activity performed. In this study we report objectively assessed levels of physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular fitness among pregnant urban Ethiopian women, and their association with demographic characteristics and anthropometric measures.
Physical activity was measured for seven consecutive days in 304 women using a combined uniaxial accelerometer and heart rate sensor. Activity energy expenditure was determined using a group calibration in a branched equation model framework. Type and duration of activities were reported using a 24-hour physical activity recall and grip strength was assessed using a dynamometer.
Median (interquartile-range, IQR) activity energy expenditure was 31.1 (23.7-42.0) kJ/kg/day corresponding to a median (IQR) physical activity level of 1.46 (1.39-1.58). Median (IQR) time in sedentary, light, and moderate-to-vigorous intensity was 1100 (999–1175), 303 (223–374) and 40 (22–69) min/day, respectively. Mean (standard deviation) sleeping heart rate was 73.6 (8.0) beats/min and grip strength was 21.6 (4.5) kg. Activity energy expenditure was 14% higher for every 10 cm2 difference in arm muscle area and 10% lower for every 10 cm2 difference in arm fat area and 10-week difference in gestational age.
The level and intensity of physical activity among pregnant women from urban Ethiopia is low compared to non-pregnant women from other low income countries as well as pregnant European women from high-income countries.
Accelerometry; Heart rate; Low-income countries; Physical activity; Pregnancy
Research has shown that exposure to interpersonal violence is associated with poorer mental health outcomes. Understanding the impact of interpersonal violence on mental health in the early postpartum period has important implications for parenting, child development, and delivery of health services. The objective of the present study was to determine the impact of interpersonal violence on depression, anxiety, stress, and parenting morale in the early postpartum.
Women participating in a community-based prospective cohort study (n = 1319) completed questionnaires prior to 25 weeks gestation, between 34–36 weeks gestation, and at 4 months postpartum. Women were asked about current and past abuse at the late pregnancy data collection time point. Postpartum depression, anxiety, stress, and parenting morale were assessed at 4 months postpartum using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Spielberger State Anxiety Index, the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale, and the Parenting Morale Index, respectively. The relationship between interpersonal violence and postpartum psychosocial health status was examined using Chi-square analysis (p < 0.05) and multivariable logistic regression.
Approximately 30% of women reported one or more experience of interpersonal violence. Sixteen percent of women reported exposure to child maltreatment, 12% reported intimate partner violence, and 12% reported other abuse. Multivariable logistic regression analysis found that a history of child maltreatment had an independent effect on depression in the postpartum, while both child maltreatment and intimate partner violence were associated with low parenting morale. Interpersonal violence did not have an independent effect on anxiety or stress in the postpartum.
The most robust relationships were seen for the influence of child maltreatment on postpartum depression and low parenting morale. By identifying women at risk for depression and low parenting morale, screening and treatment in the prenatal period could have far-reaching effects on postpartum mental health thus benefiting new mothers and their families in the long term.
Interpersonal violence; Pregnancy cohort; Postpartum mental health; Parenting morale
Helpline services have become an increasingly popular mode of providing community access to information and expert information and advice in the health and welfare sector. This paper reports on data collected from 908 callers to UK-based breastfeeding helplines.
A mixed methods design was adopted utilising a structured interview schedule to elicit callers experiences of the help and support received. In this paper we report on a series of multiple regression models undertaken to elicit the variables associated with callers’ ‘overall satisfaction’ with the helpline service. Three models were constructed; 1) caller demographic/call characteristics; 2) attitudes and effectiveness of service characteristics and 3) impact of support on caller wellbeing.
Overall, 74.6% of callers were very satisfied, and 19.8% were satisfied with the help and support received by the helpline service. The caller demographic/call characteristics found to have a significant relationship with overall satisfaction related to the ease of getting through to the helpline and whether the woman had previously breastfed. Service characteristics associated with overall satisfaction related to whether the information received was helpful and whether the support helped to resolve their issues. The extent to which the volunteer was perceived to have enough time, whether the support had encouraged them to continue breastfeeding, met the caller’s expectations and/or provided the support the caller needed were also significantly associated. Caller outcomes contributing significantly to overall satisfaction concerned callers feeling less stressed, more confident, reassured and determined to continue breastfeeding following the call. Consideration of the effect sizes indicated that key factors associated with overall satisfaction related to: volunteers having sufficient time to deal with the callers’ issues; the information being perceived as helpful; the volunteers providing the support the callers needed; and for callers to feel reassured following the call.
Overall, these results highlight the value of the breastfeeding helpline(s) in terms of providing rapid, targeted, realistic, practical, and responsive support that provides affirmation and encouragement. The benefits include confidence building and callers feeling reassured and motivated to continue breastfeeding. Care needs to be taken to ensure that helpline support is easily accessible to ensure that callers and their families can access support when needed. This may require consideration of extension to a 24 hour service.
Breastfeeding; Helpline; Survey; Descriptive; Evaluation; Peer support
Antenatal care (ANC) is one of the recommended interventions to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. Yet in most Sub-Saharan African countries, high rates of ANC coverage coexist with high maternal and neonatal mortality. This disconnect has fueled calls to focus on the quality of ANC services. However, little conceptual or empirical work exists on the measurement of ANC quality at health facilities in low-income countries. We developed a classification tool and assessed the level of ANC service provision at health facilities in Zambia on a national scale and compared this to the quality of ANC received by expectant mothers.
We analysed two national datasets with detailed antenatal provider and user information, the 2005 Zambia Health Facility Census and the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), to describe the level of ANC service provision at 1,299 antenatal facilities in 2005 and the quality of ANC received by 4,148 mothers between 2002 and 2007.
We found that only 45 antenatal facilities (3%) fulfilled our developed criteria for optimum ANC service, while 47% of facilities provided adequate service, and the remaining 50% offered inadequate service. Although 94% of mothers reported at least one ANC visit with a skilled health worker and 60% attended at least four visits, only 29% of mothers received good quality ANC, and only 8% of mothers received good quality ANC and attended in the first trimester.
DHS data can be used to monitor “effective ANC coverage” which can be far below ANC coverage as estimated by current indicators. This “quality gap” indicates missed opportunities at ANC for delivering effective interventions. Evaluating the level of ANC provision at health facilities is an efficient way to detect where deficiencies are located in the system and could serve as a monitoring tool to evaluate country progress.
Maternal health services; Prenatal care; Health care quality; Africa South of the Sahara
Poorly spaced pregnancies have been documented worldwide to result in adverse maternal and child health outcomes. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum inter-birth interval of 33 months between two consecutive live births in order to reduce the risk of adverse maternal and child health outcomes. However, birth spacing practices in many developing countries, including Tanzania, remain scantly addressed.
Longitudinal data collected in the Rufiji Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) from January 1999 to December 2010 were analyzed to investigate birth spacing practices among women of childbearing age. The outcome variable, non-adherence to the minimum inter-birth interval, constituted all inter-birth intervals <33 months long. Inter-birth intervals ≥33 months long were considered to be adherent to the recommendation. Chi-Square was used as a test of association between non-adherence and each of the explanatory variables. Factors affecting non-adherence were identified using a multilevel logistic model. Data analysis was conducted using STATA (11) statistical software.
A total of 15,373 inter-birth intervals were recorded from 8,980 women aged 15–49 years in Rufiji district over the follow-up period of 11 years. The median inter-birth interval was 33.4 months. Of the 15,373 inter-birth intervals, 48.4% were below the WHO recommended minimum length of 33 months between two live births. Non-adherence was associated with younger maternal age, low maternal education, multiple births from the preceding pregnancy, non-health facility delivery of the preceding birth, being an in-migrant resident, multi-parity and being married.
Generally, one in every two inter-birth intervals among 15–49 year-old women in Rufiji district is poorly spaced, with significant variations by socio-demographic and behavioral characteristics of mothers and newborns. Maternal, newborn and child health services should be improved with a special emphasis on community- and health facility-based optimum birth spacing education in order to enhance health outcomes of mothers and their babies, especially in rural settings.
There is little known about women’s concurrent use of conventional and complementary health care during pregnancy, particularly consultation patterns with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This study examines health service utilisation among pregnant women including consultations with obstetricians, midwives, general practitioners (GPs) and CAM practitioners.
A sub-study of pregnant women (n=2445) was undertaken from the nationally-representative Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). Women’s consultations with conventional practitioners (obstetricians, GPs and midwives) and CAM practitioners for pregnancy-related health conditions were analysed. The analysis included Pearson chi-square tests to compare categorical variables.
The survey was completed by 1835 women (response rate = 79.2%). A substantial number (49.4%) of respondents consulted with a CAM practitioner for pregnancy-related health conditions. Many participants consulted only with a CAM practitioner for assistance with certain conditions such as neck pain (74.6%) and sciatica (40.4%). Meanwhile, women consulted both CAM practitioners and conventional maternity health professionals (obstetricians, midwives and GPs) for back pain (61.8%) and gestational diabetes (22.2%). Women visiting a general practitioner (GP) 3–4 times for pregnancy care were more likely to consult with acupuncturists compared with those consulting a GP less often (p=<0.001, x2=20.5). Women who had more frequent visits to a midwife were more likely to have consulted with an acupuncturist (p=<0.001, x2=18.9) or a doula (p=<0.001, x2=23.2) than those visiting midwives less frequently for their pregnancy care.
The results emphasise the necessity for a considered and collaborative approach to interactions between pregnant women, conventional maternity health providers and CAM practitioners to accommodate appropriate information transferral and co-ordinated maternity care. The absence of sufficient clinical evidence regarding many commonly used CAM practices during pregnancy also requires urgent attention.
Pregnancy; Complementary medicine; Health services; Interprofessional; Integrative medicine
There is increased recognition of the importance of breastfeeding at a national level as evidenced by the increased number of Canadian mothers initiating breastfeeding. However, adolescent mothers (<19 years), compared to all other mothers, have lower rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration. The purpose of this study was to examine the facilitating influences and barriers to initiating, and continuing breastfeeding, as perceived by adolescent mothers in Durham Region, Ontario, Canada.
The principles of interpretive description guided this qualitative study. A purposeful, homogenous sample of 16 adolescent mothers (15–19 years) were recruited to complete individual, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. Conventional content analysis was used to code data, identify concepts and synthesize them into overall themes.
Adolescent mothers in this study expressed that the decision to breastfeed was made prenatally and while partner and family member opinions about breastfeeding initiation were influential, the decision was made independently. Mothers were primarily motivated to initiate breastfeeding due to the health benefits for the infant. Lower breastfeeding duration rates were found among mothers who decided to only “try” breastfeeding when compared to the mothers who committed to breastfeeding. Influences on continued breastfeeding included: 1) the impact of breastfeeding on social and intimate relationships; 2) the availability of social support; 3) the physical demands of breastfeeding; 4) mothers’ knowledge of breastfeeding practices and benefits; and 5) mothers’ perceived sense of comfort in breastfeeding.
The results of this study provide health care providers new conceptual insight and understanding of the factors that influence adolescents’ decisions to “try” breastfeeding and to continue providing breastmilk to their infants. Professional implications drawn from this study include active engagement of adolescents in the pre and postnatal periods, including early assessment of potential barriers surrounding breastfeeding decisions. This early professional interaction highlights the professional as a form of support, and allows for sharing of evidence-informed breastfeeding information and practical breastfeeding skills. Inclusion of adolescents’ positive social support networks should be emphasized in professional breastfeeding support. Motivational interviewing is a promising prenatal strategy to influence behavior change and reduce ambivalence in decision-making about breastfeeding, creating opportunities for health care providers to tailor interventions.
Breastfeeding; Young mother; Adolescent; Teenage mothers; Breastfeeding support; Commitment; Barriers; Qualitative
From 2000 a routine survey of mothers with newborn infants was commenced in South Western Sydney. The survey included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors for postnatal depressive symptoms in women living in metropolitan Sydney, Australia.
Mothers (n=15,389) delivering in 2002 and 2003 were assessed at 2–3 weeks after delivery for risk factors for depressive symptoms. The binary outcome variables were EPDS >9 and >12. Logistic regression was used for the multivariate analysis.
The prevalence of EPDS >9 was 16.93 per 100 (95% CI: 16.34 to 17.52) and EPDS >12 was 7.73 per 100 (95% CI: 6.96 to 7.78). The final parsimonious logistic regression models included measures of infant behaviour, financial stress, mother’s expectation of motherhood, emotional support, sole parenthood, social support and mother’s country of birth.
Infant temperament and unmet maternal expectations have a strong association with depressive symptoms with implications for the design of both preventative and treatment strategies. The findings also support the proposition that social exclusion and social isolation are important determinants of maternal depression.
Postnatal depression; Temperament; Maternal expectations; Social support; Social isolation; Migrant
To determine the rates of birth registration over a five-year period in New South Wales (NSW) and explore the factors associated with the rate of registration.
This is a cross-sectional study using linked population databases. The study population included all births of NSW residents in NSW between 2001 and 2005.
Birth registration rates in NSW were 82.66% in the year of birth, 93.19% in the first year, 94.02% in the second, 94.56% in the third and 95.08% in the fourth year after birth. The non-registration of births was mainly associated with such factors as neonatal and postneonatal death (adjusted OR = 3.84, 95% CI: 3.23-4.57); being Indigenous (adjusted OR = 3.26, 95% CI: 3.10-3.43); maternal age <25 or >39 years (adjusted OR = 2.81, 95% CI: 2.72-2.90); low birthweight (<2,500 grams) (adjusted OR = 1.79, 95% CI: 1.69-1.90); living in remote areas (adjusted OR = 1.57, 95% CI: 1.52-1.63); being born after the first quarter of year (adjusted OR = 1.08-1.56, 95% CI between 1.03-1.12 and 1.49-1.64); mother having more pregnancies (adjusted OR = 1.85-7.29, 95% CI between1.78-1.93 and 6.87-7.73). Mothers who were born overseas were more likely to register their births than those born in Australia (adjusted OR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.69-0.75). Multiple births were more likely to be registered than singleton births (adjusted OR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.76-0.92). About one-third of the non-registrations of births in NSW were explained by the risk factors. The reasons for the remaining non-registrations need to be investigated.
Of birth in NSW, 4.92% were not registered by the fourth year after birth.
Birth; Registration; Factor; Australia
British women are increasingly delaying childbirth. The proportion giving birth over the age of 35 rose from 12% in 1996 to 20% in 2006. Women over this age are at a higher risk of perinatal death, and antepartum stillbirth accounts for 61% of all such deaths. Women over 40 years old have a similar stillbirth risk at 39 weeks as women who are between 25 and 29 years old have at 41 weeks.
Many obstetricians respond to this by suggesting labour induction at term to forestall some of the risk. In a national survey of obstetricians 37% already induce women aged 40–44 years. A substantial minority of parents support such a policy, but others do not on the grounds that it might increase the risk of Caesarean section. However trials of induction in other high-risk scenarios have not shown any increase in Caesarean sections, rather the reverse. If induction for women over 35 did not increase Caesareans, or even reduced them, it would plausibly improve perinatal outcome and be an acceptable intervention. We therefore plan to perform a trial to test the effect of such an induction policy on Caesarean section rates.
This trial is funded by the NHS Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme.
The 35/39 trial is a multi-centre, prospective, randomised controlled trial. It is being run in twenty UK centres and we aim to recruit 630 nulliparous women (315 per group) aged over 35 years of age, over two years. Women will be randomly allocated to one of two groups:
Induction of labour between 390/7 and 396/7 weeks gestation.
Expectant management i.e. awaiting spontaneous onset of labour unless a situation develops necessitating either induction of labour or Caesarean Section.
The primary purpose of this trial is to establish what effect a policy of induction of labour at 39 weeks for nulliparous women of advanced maternal age has on the rate of Caesarean section deliveries. The secondary aim is to act as a pilot study for a trial to answer the question, does induction of labour in this group of women improve perinatal outcomes? Randomisation will occur at 360/7 – 396/7 weeks gestation via a computerised randomisation programme at the Clinical Trials Unit, University of Nottingham. There will be no blinding to treatment allocation.
The 35/39 trial is powered to detect an effect of induction of labour on the risk of caesarean section, it is underpowered to determine whether it improves perinatal outcome. The current study will also act as a pilot for a larger study to address this question.
Induction of labour; Advanced maternal age; Perinatal outcome; Caesarean delivery