Care seeking for maternal health: Challenges remain for poor women

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background: In 2005 a Safe Motherhood Community-Based Survey was carried out on behalf of the Family Health Department to explore community values and practices surrounding pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Objective: To explore the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs which influence maternal care seeking behaviour and practices in pregnancy and childbirth. Methods: Qualitative data - focus group discussions and in depth interviews with women, men and adolescents- were gathered from communities distributed across Ethiopia's 11 regions. Data were analysed using Nudist software. Important findings: The location of childbirth involves retaining control of the process and outcome, and securing a safe delivery. The pregnant woman is influenced by her attendants; families only seek care for complications if local or herbal, remedies and prayer are defeated. Timely care seeking is reliant on the knowledge, understanding and financial means of the husband. Distance, cost and lack of support for the cultural practices around birth are impeding factors. Conclusions: Communities are aware of the dangers of giving birth at home. Women are constrained by the distance and cost in reaching and receiving care. Important traditions around birth are not recognised by health providers. Socio-cultural aspects must be addressed and incorporated into the care provided at the health facilities.