Home deliveries in the capital: a qualitativeexploration of barriers to institutionaldeliveries in peri-urban areas of Lusaka,Zambia


Tamara Mulenga, Misinzo Moono, Martha Mwendafilumba, Albert Manasyan and Anjali Sharma


BMC Pregnancy and Child Birth

Background: A shortage of skilled birth attendants and low quality of care in health facilities along 
home deliveries contribute to the high maternal and neonatal mortality in sub Saharan Africa. 
addressing context-specific reasons for not delivering at health care facilities could increase births 
attendants who, if required, can provide life-saving interventions.
Methods: We conducted 22 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with midwives at three health facilities in peri-urban communities and 24 semi-structured surveys with mothers in two areas served by health facilities with the highest number of reported home deliveries in Lusaka, Zambia. Both IDIs and surveys were audio-recorded, transcribed and coded to identify themes around delivery and birthing experience.
Results: We found that most women preferred institutional deliveries to home deliveries, but were unable to utilise these services due to inability to recognize labour symptoms or lack of resources. Midwives speculated that women used herbal concoctions to reduce the duration of delivery with the result that women either did not present in time or endangered themselves and the baby with powerful contractions and precipitous labour. Respondents suggested that disrespectful and abusive maternity care dissuaded some women from delivering at health facilities. However, some midwives viewed such tactics as necessary to ensure women followed instructions and successfully delivered live babies.
Conclusion: Difference in beliefs and birthing practices between midwives and mothers suggest the need for open dialogue to co-design appropriate interventions to increase facility usage. Further examination of the pharmaceutical properties and safety of herbal concoctions being used to shorten labour are required. Measures to reduce the economic burden of care seeking within this environment, increase respectful and patient-centred care, and improve the quality of midwifery could increase institutional deliveries.
Low-middle income countries, Maternal health, Child birth, Respectful maternity care, Zambia, African
traditional medicine, Midwifery

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