Birth place and birth attendants during delivery are crucial factors in reducing maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. This study investigated the choice of birthplace and use of birth attendants during delivery and also the factors influencing these choices among child bearing women in Akanu, Ohafia community of Abia State. The need for this study arose because women attend antenatal clinic during pregnancy but do not come to the health facility to deliver their babies; they are only seen when complications arose. Four objectives were set: To determine women’s choice of birth places in Akanu Ohafia, elicit reasons for their choice of birth places, identify women’s use of birth attendants during delivery and the factors influencing the use of birth attendants. Cross sectional descriptive survey design was adopted for the study. Total population of 313 women who gave birth between January and December 2012 were used for the study. Data were collected using researcher developed structured questionnaire. Data analysis was done using frequency counts and simple percentages and data presented in tables and pie chart. Mean and standard deviation were used for analysis of the demographic characteristics while Fishers exact test was employed in testing the two null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The findings on choice of birthplace revealed that, hospital/health centre ranked highest with 67.6%, TBAS place 13.7%, church and spiritual homes 10.2 % and home 8.6%%. On the reasons for choice of birth place, respondents chose their places of delivery based on different reasons. For hospital/health centre the major reasons indicated are availability of qualified staff 93.4%, convenience 88.9% and availability of services 85.8%. On choice of TBAs place their reasons were cost 93.0%, availability 93.0% and convenience 81.4%. Reasons for using the church include availability 71.9%, labour starting at night 68.8% and charge low 62.5% while the major reason for delivering at home was that labour started at night 81.4%, Use of birth attendants during delivery showed that Nurse Midwives 70.6% is the highest and that there is reduction in the number of deliveries taken by the TBAS 15.0% and other people compared with results from other researchers. The women gave reasons which include: Provider knows her work, provider treats people with respect, the provider charges low and provider is always available as driving use of birth attendants during delivery. Two hypotheses were formulated; (i) there is no significant difference in the use of birth attendants during delivery between primiparous and multiparous women. (ii) there is no significant difference between some women’s socio demographic characteristics (age, marital status, educational level of respondent and parity) on choice of birth place. Based on the findings there should be more campaigns for mothers to use the health facilities with skilled health personnel to avert maternal death. Health services should be made available 24hours for easy access; TBAS should undergo some training to equip them for management of simple cases. Health services should be subsidized to reduce direct cost of health services on childbearing women.
Background to the Study
The choice of birthplace and use birth attendant during delivery is very important for women and their families because it determines to a large extent the outcome of pregnancies and child births. Access to quality healthcare during pregnancy and in particular, during delivery is a crucial factor in explaining the huge disparity in maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality between developing and the industrialized world. (Gayawan,2012)
Every year, 3.3 million babies are stillborn and maternal deaths have also continued unabated. More than half a million women die of pregnancy related complications with ninety-nine percent (99%) of these deaths occurring in developing regions particularly Africa and Asia. (WHO 2005). The implication is that every minute, at least a woman dies from pregnancy and childbirth in these regions. . Comparing with other regions of the world, the lifetime risk of maternal deaths in sub Saharan Africa is 1 in 22 mothers. North Africa has 1 in 210, 1 in 62 for Oceania, 1 in 120 for Asia, and 1in 290 for Latin America and the Caribbean (WHO, 2005).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2005), the history of success in reducing maternal death and newborn mortalities show that skilled professional care during and after childbirth can make the difference between life and death for both women and their newborn babies. The converse is true as well; a breakdown of access to skilled care may rapidly lead to increased unfavourable outcomes. Yanagisawa, Oum and Wakai (2006), assert that obstetric complications are the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age in many developing countries. Globally, more than 200 million women become pregnant each year and 40% are estimated to experience pregnancy related health problems with 15% experiencing serious or long term complications and 1.7% developing fatal complications. The lifetime risk of deaths due to pregnancy related complications is 250 folds higher among women in developing countries. It is estimated that 88 – 98% of these deaths are avoidable and 70% are related to five direct obstetric complications:- postpartum haemorrhage, puerperal pre –eclampsia and eclampsia, obstructed labour and abortion. AbouZahr, (2003) ; in Yanagisawa et al (2006) stated that the prevention and management of these complications is the key to improving maternal health. It is estimated that 97% of pregnant women in developed countries receive antenatal care ANC services and 99% use skilled obstetric services during delivery. In developing countries, 65% and 53% of women use ANC and skilled obstetric care respectively (Uzochukwu, Onyeukwu and Okpala 2004.) Acquiring the service of skilled attendants during delivery to improve the management of pregnancy and related complications is an effective means to reduce maternal mortality.
Iyaniwure and Yusuf (2009) observed that it is not enough to receive ANC only. This is because majority of the complications that cause maternal death occur during or shortly after delivery. It is therefore important that pregnant women have skilled obstetric attendance during delivery because pregnancy related complications are a leading cause of death among women of reproductive age in developing countries. According to joint WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF/World Bank statement(1999),skilled obstetric care or attendance refers to the process by which a pregnant woman and her infant are provided with adequate care during pregnancy, labour, birth, postpartum and immediate newborn period, whether the place of delivery is the home or hospital. In order for this process to take place, the attendant must have the necessary skills and must be supported by an enabling environment at various levels of the healthcare system. For the world’s 60million non facility based births, addressing who is currently attending these births and what effects they have on birth outcomes is a key starting point towards improving care during delivery.( Darmstadt et al 2009).