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Traditional practices during pregnancy and birth, and perceptions of perinatal losses in women of rural Pakistan

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Abstract

Objective: Understanding the sociocultural context and local practices during pregnancy and birth is imperative to identify factors related to perinatal mortality in countries where its burden is high. This study aims to explore the pregnancy and birth related cultural practices and the perceptions of women with a recent perinatal death in Sindh province, Pakistan. Design: This qualitative exploratory study consisted of in-depth interviews with women who had experienced a perinatal death in the year preceding the study. Women were identified and recruited with the help of lady health workers. After consent, women were interviewed in their homes and in their own language (Sindhi) by a local female interviewer. Setting and participants: Interviews were conducted with women from predominantly rural district of the southern province of Sindh in Pakistan between May and August 2018. The data were coded both inductively and deductively and then analysed using themes. Findings: Twenty-five women were interviewed. Traditional home remedies were commonly used to alleviate pregnancy symptoms such as general aches and pains. The health providers often delayed the information about the perinatal deaths in health facilities, which saddened the women. Most women had fatalistic opinions about what caused their losses, and explained the cause based on their own interpretation, which were not necessarily consistent with known causes of perinatal death. The women also desired to use contraception and believed that it would prevent future pregnancy loss; however, many women were unable to make that decision themselves. Conclusions and implications: The high use of traditional home-based remedies may be a proxy measure for poor access to formal healthcare services. Many women described poor acknowledgement of their grief which may be harmful. Women's knowledge about the causes of perinatal mortality in general was very low, improving this knowledge may help women to seek appropriate healthcare services during pregnancy.

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... Stillbirth, the birth of an infant that has died in the womb, evokes strong emotional reactions (Kurz, 2020;O'Leary & Henke, 2017). Literature suggests that women experience shock and distress after stillbirth (Ahmed et al., 2020), but may not be able to freely express their grief Testoni et al., 2020). In many settings, grief following stillbirth remains taboo . ...
... In many settings, grief following stillbirth remains taboo . This means women may suppress their grief due to the risk of shame, blame and stigma (Ahmed et al., 2020;King et al., 2021;Kurz, 2020;Mills et al., 2021). Suppressed grief can then contribute to 'hidden grief' (Adebayo et al., 2019), making the care of mothers after stillbirth difficult for health personnel (Ávila et al., 2020). ...
... In this study, women experienced both emotional and psychological reactions to loss in the form of shock, blame, emotional pain and sadness. Similar emotional and psychological reactions to stillbirth have been confirmed by other studies in India (Das et al., 2021), Pakistan (Ahmed et al., 2020), the USA (King et al., 2021) and Kenya/Uganda . This finding adds to the growing body of knowledge on stillbirth experience by highlighting that mothers' experience of stillbirth in Nigeria is similar to other places. ...
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Stillbirth commonly affects women in Nigeria, but their experiences of grief following stillbirth is under explored. This study aimed to describe Nigerian women’s experiences of grief after stillbirth. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 women in Nigeria who experienced stillbirth. The results from the thematic analysis suggest that mothers had an unmet need to see their stillborn baby, and they experienced communication challenges such as being blindsided/misled about the baby during their interactions with health personnel. The participants experienced emotional and psychological reactions to grief that manifested in the form of emotional pain, sadness, blame and shock, but having a sense of gratitude helped them cope. The findings of this study highlight gaps in bereavement care and suggest the need for basic bereavement training for health personnel.
... The findings from the present study overlapped with other studies from low-and middle-income countries like Pakistan (Ahmed et al, 2020) and South Africa (Noge et al, 2020) where the causes of stillbirths have also been attributed to superstitious beliefs such as ghosts and witchcraft. Similarly, this study supports the finding by Eklund et al (2020) in Denmark, Gola and Leichtentritt (2016) in Israel and Kalu (2019) in Nigeria that women cope with stillbirth by embedding the loss within a larger existential meaning. ...
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Stillbirth, the loss of a baby during pregnancy or childbirth, is one of the most devastating losses a parent can experience. The experience of stillbirth is associated with trauma and intense grief, but mothers’ belief systems can be protective against the impacts of grief. Women in Nigeria endure a high burden of stillbirth and the aim in this study was to describe the beliefs and strategies for coping with stillbirth. Twenty mothers bereaved by stillbirth in Nigeria were interviewed; seven of them also participated in a focus group. The findings of the study revealed that the experience of stillbirth was influenced by beliefs which originated from superstitions, religion, and social expectations. These beliefs played significant roles in how mothers coped with the loss, by providing them with a framework for sense-making and benefit-finding.
... Although there has been a considerable increase in focus on stillbirth prevention during the past decade, both nationally and internationally, there remains a low level of public awareness of stillbirth and the associated risk factors [18] and a continued stigmatisation of the condition [19,20]. A lack of awareness that pregnancy complications exist is a real barrier to accepting public health messages to improve outcomes [21,22]. Bringing stillbirth out of the shadow of silence and stigma is an important first step towards effectively communicating key messages to reduce the risk. ...
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CITATIONS 0 6 authors, including: Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Determinants of Stillbirths in Bahrain during The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. Abstract Understanding key healthcare system challenges experienced by women during pregnancy and birth is crucial to scale up available interventions and reduce perinatal mortality. A community perspective about preferences and experience of care during this period can be used to improve community-based programs to reduce perinatal mortality. Using a qualitative exploratory approach, we examined women's experience of perinatal loss, aiming to understand the main factors, as perceived and experienced by women, leading to perinatal loss. Qualitative in-depth Interviews were conducted with 25 mothers with a recent perinatal loss, three family members, six healthcare officials, and two focus group discussions with 17 lady health workers. Data were analysed using inductive and deductive coding, by thematic analysis. Our findings revealed three distinct but interrelated themes, which include: 1) poor access to care during pregnancy and birth, 2) unavailability of appropriate healthcare services , and 3) poor quality of care during pregnancy and birth. Women frequently delayed seeking formal care around birth because of delays by themselves, their family members, or the local traditional birth attendants who frequently induced births at women's homes without recognising the dangers to the mothers or their babies. Preference for private care was common , however they often could not bear the cost of care when they needed caesarean section or in-patient care for their sick newborns because these services were absent in public health facilities of the district. Referral to the regional tertiary care hospital was often not officially arranged leading to risky births in small and crowded private clinics. Women's views about negative staff attitudes and the lack of attention given to them in public health facilities highlighted a lack of quality and respectful antenatal care. Improvement in women's access to essential care during pregnancy and around birth, availability of emergency obstetric and newborn care, improving the quality of maternal and newborn care in both public and private health facilities at the district level might reduce perinatal mortality in Pakistan.
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Background: About 3 million stillbirths occur each year, 98% of which are in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Interpregnancy interval is a key risk factor of interest, because it is modifiable. We aimed to investigate whether there is a causal relationship between the length of interpregnancy interval and risk of subsequent stillbirth. Methods: We used Demographic and Health Surveys (2002-18) from 58 LMICs to study reproductive histories of women and to identify livebirths and stillbirths in the preceding 5 years. Countries were selected on the basis of the availability of interpregnancy interval data and other covariates of interest (age, education, urban or rural residence, and wealth) in surveys done since 2002. Exclusion criteria were being nulliparous, having missing parity data, and not having had at least two births (livebirth or stillbirth) in the 5 years before the survey. We combined two analytic approaches: one that analyses intervals between all births and another that analyses intervals within mothers. We report stratified estimates for the first, second, and third intervals, controlling for all past birth outcomes and intervals in a 5-year period, and other socioeconomic covariates. We also explored effect heterogeneity across key cohort subgroups. Findings: Between July, 1997, and April, 2018, we identified 716 478 births from 338 223 women in 123 Demographic and Health Surveys from 58 LMICs, of which 9647 were stillbirths. Intervals of less than 6 months were associated with an increased risk of stillbirth in the between-mother models when considering the first interval (risk difference [RD] 0·0096, 95% CI 0·008-0·011). This association was slightly attenuated when considering only the second interval (RD 0·0054, 95% CI 0·0010 to 0·0099) and substantially attenuated when considering only the third interval (0·0007, -0·037 to 0·039). Within-mother modelling showed a null association with intervals of 24-59 months when considering the first and second (RD 0·007, 95% CI -0·001 to 0·016) and first and third (0·040, -0·422 to 0·501) intervals. Interpretation: Although interpregnancy intervals of less than 12 months were associated with increased risk of stillbirth, these effects were attenuated when considering second and third intervals, suggesting the association in the first interval might not be causal. Future studies should use generalisable cohorts with longitudinal data, and report estimates stratified by birth order. Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
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Quality concerns exist with stillbirth data from low- and middle-income countries including under-reporting and misclassification which affect the reliability of burden estimates. This is particularly problematic for household survey data. Disclosure and reporting of stillbirths are affected by the socio-cultural context in which they occur and societal perceptions around pregnancy loss. In this qualitative study, we aimed to understand how community and healthcare providers' perceptions and practices around stillbirth influence stillbirth data quality in Afghanistan. We collected data through 55 in-depth interviews with women and men that recently experienced a stillbirth, female elders, community health workers, healthcare providers, and government officials in Kabul province, Afghanistan between October-November 2017. The results showed that at the community-level, there was variation in local terminology and interpretation of stillbirth which did not align with the biomedical categories of stillbirth and miscarriage and could lead to misclassification. Specific birth attendant practices such as avoiding showing mothers their stillborn baby had implications for women’s ability to recall skin appearance and determine stillbirth timing; however, parents who did see their baby, had a detailed recollection of these characteristics. Birth attendants also unintentionally misclassified birth outcomes. We found several practices that could potentially reduce under-reporting and misclassification of stillbirth; these included the cultural significance of ascertaining signs of life after birth (which meant families distinguished between stillbirths and early neonatal deaths); the perceived value and social recognition of a stillborn; and openness of families to disclose and discuss stillbirths. At the facility-level, we identified that healthcare provider’s practices driven by institutional culture and demands, family pressure, and socio-cultural influences, could contribute to under-reporting or misclassification of stillbirths. Data collection methodologies need to take into consideration the socio-cultural context and investigate thoroughly how perceptions and practices might facilitate or impede stillbirth reporting in order to make progress on data quality improvements for stillbirth.
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Background: Modelled mortality estimates have been useful for health programmes in low-income and middle-income countries. However, these estimates are often based on sparse and low-quality data. We aimed to generate high quality data about the burden, timing, and causes of maternal deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: In this prospective cohort study done in 11 community-based research sites in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, between July, 2012, and February, 2016, we conducted population-based surveillance of women of reproductive age (15-49 years) to identify pregnancies, which were followed up to birth and 42 days post partum. We used standard operating procedures, data collection instruments, training, and standardisation to harmonise study implementation across sites. Verbal autopsies were done for deaths of all women of reproductive age, neonatal deaths, and stillbirths. Physicians used standardised methods for cause of death assignment. Site-specific rates and proportions were pooled at the regional level using a meta-analysis approach. Findings: We identified 278 186 pregnancies and 263 563 births across the study sites, with outcomes ascertained for 269 630 (96·9%) pregnancies, including 8761 (3·2%) that ended in miscarriage or abortion. Maternal mortality ratios in sub-Saharan Africa (351 per 100 000 livebirths, 95% CI 168-732) were similar to those in south Asia (336 per 100 000 livebirths, 247-458), with far greater variability within sites in sub-Saharan Africa. Stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates were approximately two times higher in sites in south Asia than in sub-Saharan Africa (stillbirths: 35·1 per 1000 births, 95% CI 28·5-43·1 vs 17·1 per 1000 births, 12·5-25·8; neonatal mortality: 43·0 per 1000 livebirths, 39·0-47·3 vs 20·1 per 1000 livebirths, 14·6-27·6). 40-45% of pregnancy-related deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths occurred during labour, delivery, and the 24 h postpartum period in both regions. Obstetric haemorrhage, non-obstetric complications, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and pregnancy-related infections accounted for more than three-quarters of maternal deaths and stillbirths. The most common causes of neonatal deaths were perinatal asphyxia (40%, 95% CI 39-42, in south Asia; 34%, 32-36, in sub-Saharan Africa) and severe neonatal infections (35%, 34-36, in south Asia; 37%, 34-39 in sub-Saharan Africa), followed by complications of preterm birth (19%, 18-20, in south Asia; 24%, 22-26 in sub-Saharan Africa). Interpretation: These results will contribute to improved global estimates of rates, timing, and causes of maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths. Our findings imply that programmes in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia need to further intensify their efforts to reduce mortality rates, which continue to be high. The focus on improving the quality of maternal intrapartum care and immediate newborn care must be further enhanced. Efforts to address perinatal asphyxia and newborn infections, as well as preterm birth, are critical to achieving survival goals in the Sustainable Development Goals era. Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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Background To determine how a lack of women’s empowerment affects their risk of stillbirths and early neonatal mortality in Pakistan. Methods Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2011-12 data were used to analyse 11,985 and 11,596 singleton births in the 5 years preceding the survey, respectively, for stillbirth and early neonatal mortality. Multivariate logistic models, adjusted for survey cluster were performed in STATA (Stata Inc, College Station, TX, USA) using step-wise backward elimination to measure associated factors of stillbirth and early neonatal mortality in separate models. Results are presented as adjusted odds ratios (aOR). Results Women whose family elders made their healthcare decisions compared to women who decided for themselves had higher odds of stillbirth (aOR=2.04, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.05-3.99). Women who had never used any family planning, compared to modern methods were 1.47 times more likely to have experienced a stillbirth (aOR=1.47, 95% CI=1.06-2.04). Women who did manual labour compared to no work (aOR=1.55, 95% CI=1.09-2.21), or were a blood relation with their husband also had higher odds of stillbirth (aOR=1.45, 95% CI=1.01-2.06). Early neonatal mortality was explained mainly by mothers facing financial problems to access to treatment (aOR=1.67, 95% CI=1.06-2.63), babies not weighed at birth (aOR=4.39, 95% CI=1.00-19.33), malnourished mothers (body mass index BMI <18.5, aOR=1.61, 95% CI=1.00-2.58) and mothers who wanted their last child later than when they were born (aOR=0.17, 95% CI=0.05-0.59). Conclusions Women’s empowerment to choose and access healthcare for themselves and their newborns during pregnancy and birth should be the cornerstone of any intervention package to tackle stillbirths and early neonatal mortality in a high burden country like Pakistan.
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Background: Pakistan has the highest rate of stillbirths globally. Not much attention has been given so far to exploring the sociocultural factors hindering the reportage of stillbirths and the causes of death. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the perspectives of parents, communities and healthcare providers regarding the sociocultural practices and health system-related factors contributing to stillbirths and their underreporting. Methods: This study used a qualitative approach including in-depth interviews and 14 focus group discussions to collect data from four districts of Pakistan. We conducted 285 in-depth interviews and 14 focus group discussions with health professionals – mainly active in the areas of maternal and child health – and parents who had experienced stillbirth. Constant comparative method and analytical induction method were performed to analyze the data. Results: The results of this study show that stillbirth is frequently misclassified and, therefore, an underreported phenomenon in Pakistan. It is an outcome of sociocultural practices, such as the social meaning of stillbirth and their understanding about the conflict between cultural and medical anatomy. In addition to grief and psychological distress, it endangers the maternal identity and worth in society in contrast to the mothers of live-born children. Conclusion: The misclassification of stillbirth, especially by healthcare providers, is a significant impediment to designing preventive strategies for stillbirth. We recommend that the reporting system for stillbirth should be aligned with the WHO definition of stillbirth to avoid its underreporting. Reporting procedures at a more administrative level need to be made uniform and simplified.
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Objective and the context This paper examines the beliefs and experiences of women and their families in remote mountain villages of Nepal about perinatal sickness and death and considers the implications of these beliefs for future healthcare provision. Methods Two mountain villages were chosen for this qualitative study to provide diversity of context within a highly disadvantaged region. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted with 42 women of childbearing age and their family members, 15 health service providers, and 5 stakeholders. The data were analysed using a thematic analysis technique with a comprehensive coding process. Findings Three key themes emerged from the study: (1) ‘Everyone has gone through it’: perinatal death as a natural occurrence; (2) Dewata (God) as a factor in health and sickness: a cause and means to overcome sickness in mother and baby; and (3) Karma (Past deeds), Bhagya (Fate) or Lekhanta (Destiny): ways of rationalising perinatal deaths. Conclusion Religio-cultural interpretations underlie a fatalistic view among villagers in Nepal’s mountain communities about any possibility of preventing perinatal deaths. This perpetuates a silence around the issue, and results in severe under-reporting of ongoing high perinatal death rates and almost no reporting of stillbirths. The study identified a strong belief in religio-cultural determinants of perinatal death, which demonstrates that medical interventions alone are not sufficient to prevent these deaths and that broader social determinants which are highly significant in local life must be considered in policy making and programming.
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Background Cultural practices, beliefs, and taboos are often implicated in determining the care received by mothers during pregnancy and child birth which is an important determinant of maternal mortality. Objective To assess prevalence of cultural malpractice during pregnancy, child birth, and postnatal period among women of childbearing age in Meshenti town, Amhara region, northwest Ethiopia, in 2016. Methods Community based cross-sectional study was conducted among women of reproductive age group interviewed during the study period from May 10 to June 17, 2016. Total sample size was 318 women of reproductive age group. Systematic sampling technique was conducted. Result Overall, 50.9% of the respondents had cultural malpractices during their pregnancy. Out of 318 women, 62 (19.5%) practiced nutrition taboo, 78 (24.5%) practiced abdominal massage, 87 (29.7%) delivered their babies at home, 96 (32.8%) avoided colostrums, 132 (45.2%) washed their baby before 24 hr after delivery, and 6 (6.9%) cut the cord by unclean blade. Conclusion and Recommendation The findings of this study show that different traditional malpractice during perinatal period is still persisting in spite of modern developments in the world. Health education and promoting formal female education are important to decrease or avoid these cultural malpractices.
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Purpose To explore the lived experiences and personal impact of stillbirth on bereaved parents. Methods Semi-structured in-depth interviews analysed by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) on a purposive sample of parents of twelve babies born following fetal death at a tertiary university maternity hospital in Ireland with a birth rate of c8,500 per annum and a stillbirth rate of 4.6/1000. Results Stillbirth had a profound and enduring impact on bereaved parents. Four superordinate themes relating to the human impact of stillbirth emerged from the data: maintaining hope, importance of the personhood of the baby, protective care and relationships (personal and professional). Bereaved parents recalled in vivid detail their experiences of care following diagnosis of stillbirth and their subsequent care. The time between diagnosis of a life-limiting anomaly or stillbirth and delivery is highlighted as important for parents as they find meaning in their loss. Conclusions The impact of stillbirth on bereaved parents is immense and how parents are cared for is recalled in precise detail as they revisit their experience. Building on existing literature, these data bring to light the depth of personal experience and impact of stillbirth for parents and provides medical professionals with valuable insights to inform their care of bereaved parents and the importance of clear and sensitive communication.
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Background: Unintended pregnancies are a global public health concern and contribute significantly to adverse maternal and neonatal health, social and economic outcomes and increase the risks of maternal deaths and neonatal mortality. In countries like Pakistan where data for the unintended pregnancies is scarce, studies are required to estimate its accurate prevalence and predictors using more specific tools such as the London Measure of Unplanned Pregnancies (LMUP). Methods: We conducted a hospital based cross sectional survey in two tertiary care hospitals in Pakistan. We used a pre tested structured questionnaire to collect the data on socio-demographic characteristics, reproductive history, awareness and past experience with contraceptives and unintended pregnancies using six item the LMUP. We used Univariate and multivariate analysis to explore the association between unintended pregnancies and predictor variables and presented the association as adjusted odds ratios. We also evaluated the psychometric properties of the Urdu version of the LMUP. Results: Amongst 3010 pregnant women, 1150 (38.2%) pregnancies were reported as unintended. In the multivariate analysis age < 20 years (AOR 3.5 1.1-6.5), being illiterate (AOR 1.9 1.1-3.4), living in a rural setting (1.7 1.2-2.3), having a pregnancy interval of = < 12 months (AOR 1.7 1.4-2.2), having a parity of >2 (AOR 1.4 1.2-1.8), having no knowledge about contraceptive methods (AOR 3.0 1.7-5.4) and never use of contraceptive methods (AOR 2.3 1.4-5.1) remained significantly associated with unintended pregnancy. The Urdu version of the LMUP scale was found to be acceptable, valid and reliable with the Cronbach's alpha of 0.85. Conclusions: This study explores a high prevalence of unintended pregnancies and important factors especially those related to family planning. Integrated national family program that provides contraceptive services especially the modern methods to women during pre-conception and post-partum would be beneficial in averting unintended pregnancies and their related adverse outcomes in Pakistan.
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Background The aim of this study was to record the beliefs, practices during pregnancy, post-partum and in the first few days of an infant’s life, held by a cross section of the community in rural Cambodia to determine beneficial community interventions to improve early neonatal health. Methods Qualitative study design with data generated from semi structured interviews (SSI) and focus group discussions (FGD). Data were analysed by thematic content analysis, with an a priori coding structure developed using available relevant literature. Further reading of the transcripts permitted additional coding to be performed in vivo.This study was conducted in two locations, firstly the Angkor Hospital for Children and secondarily in five villages in Sotnikum, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. ResultsA total of 20 participants underwent a SSIs (15 in hospital and five in the community) and six (three in hospital and three in the community; a total of 58 participants) FGDs were conducted. Harmful practices that occurred in the past (for example: discarding colostrum and putting mud on the umbilical stump) were not described as being practiced. Village elders did not enforce traditional views. Parents could describe signs of illness and felt responsible to seek care for their child even if other family members disagreed, however participants were unaware of the signs or danger of neonatal jaundice. Cost of transportation was the major barrier to healthcare that was identified. Conclusions In the population examined, traditional practices in late pregnancy and the post-partum period were no longer commonly performed. However, jaundice, a potentially serious neonatal condition, was not recognised. Community neonatal interventions should be tailored to the populations existing practice and knowledge.
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OBJECTIVE To verify the association between complicated grief and sociodemographic, reproductive, mental, marital satisfaction, and professional support characteristics in women after stillbirth. METHOD Cross-sectional study with 26 women who had stillbirth in 2013, living in the city of Maringá, Brazil, and eight women who attended the Centre d'Études et de Rechercheen Intervention Familiale at the University of Quebec en Outaouais, in Canada. The instrument was administered as an interview to a small number of mothers of infants up to three months (n=50), who did not participate in the validation study. RESULTS By applying the short version of the Perinatal Grief Scale, the prevalence of complicated grief in Brazilian women was found to be higher (35%) in relation to Canadian women (12%).Characteristics of the Brazilian women associated with the grief period included the presence of previous pregnancy with live birth, absence of previous perinatal loss, postpartum depression, and lack of marital satisfaction. For the Canadians it was observed that 80% of the women presenting no grief made use of the professional support group. In both populations the occurrence of complicated grief presented a higher prevalence in women with duration of pregnancy higher than 28 weeks. CONCLUSION The women that must be further investigated during the grief period are those living in Brazil, making no use of a professional support group, presenting little to no marital satisfaction, having no religion, and of a low educational level.
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Background Pakistan has alarmingly high numbers of maternal mortality along with suboptimal care-seeking behaviour. It is essential to identify the barriers and facilitators that women and families encounter, when deciding to seek maternal care services. This study aimed to understand health-seeking patterns of pregnant women in rural Sindh, Pakistan. MethodsA qualitative study was undertaken in rural Sindh, Pakistan as part of a large multi-country study in 2012. Thirty three focus group discussions and 26 in-depth interviews were conducted with mothers [n = 173], male decision-makers [n = 64], Lady Health Workers [n = 64], Lady Health Supervisors [n = 10], Women Medical Officers [n = 9] and Traditional Birth Attendants [n = 7] in the study communities. A set of a priori themes regarding care-seeking during pregnancy and its complications as well as additional themes as they emerged from the data were used for analysis. Qualitative analysis was done using NVivo version 10. ResultsWomen stated they usually visited health facilities if they experienced pregnancy complications or danger signs, such as heavy bleeding or headache. Findings revealed the importance of husbands and mothers-in-law as decision makers regarding health care utilization. Participants expressed that poor availability of transport, financial constraints and the unavailability of chaperones were important barriers to seeking care. In addition, private facilities were often preferred due to the perceived superior quality of services. Conclusion Maternal care utilization was influenced by social, economic and cultural factors in rural Pakistani communities. The perceived poor quality care at public hospitals was a significant barrier for many women in accessing health services. If maternal lives are to be saved, policy makers need to develop processes to overcome these barriers and ensure easily accessible high-quality care for women in rural communities. Trial RegistrationNCT01911494
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Background Religiosity in health care delivery has attracted some attention in contemporary literature. The religious beliefs and practices of patients play an important role in the recovery of the patient. Pregnant women and women in labour exhibit their faith and use religious artefacts. This phenomenon is poorly understood in Ghana. The study sought to investigate the religious beliefs and practices of post-partum Ghanaian women. Methods A descriptive phenomenological study was conducted inductively involving 13 women who were sampled purposively. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted in English, Ga, Twi and Ewe. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Concurrent analysis was done employing the principles of content analysis. Ethical approval was obtained for the study and anonymity and confidentiality were ensured. Results Themes generated revealed religious beliefs and practices such as prayer, singing, thanksgiving at church, fellowship and emotional support. Pastors’ spiritual interventions in pregnancy included prayer and revelations, reversing negative dreams, laying of hands and anointing women. Also, traditional beliefs and practices were food and water restrictions and tribal rituals. Religious artefacts used in pregnancy and labour were anointing oil, blessed water, sticker, blessed white handkerchief, blessed sand, Bible and Rosary. Family influence and secrecy were associated with the use of artefacts. Conclusions Religiosity should be a key component of training health care professionals so that they can understand the religious needs of their clients and provide holistic care. We concluded that pregnant women and women in labour should be supported to exercise their religious beliefs and practices.
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Remarkable progress has been made towards halving of maternal deaths and deaths of children aged 1–59 months, although the task is incomplete. Newborn deaths and stillbirths were largely invisible in the Millennium Development Goals, and have continued to fall between maternal and child health efforts, with much slower reduction. This Series and the Every Newborn Action Plan outline mortality goals for newborn babies (fewer than ten per 1000 livebirths) and stillbirths (fewer than ten per 1000 total births) by 2035, aligning with A Promise Renewed target for children and the vision of Every Woman Every Child. To focus political attention and improve performance, goals for newborn babies and stillbirths must be recognised in the post-2015 framework, with corresponding accountability mechanisms. The four previous papers in this Every Newborn Series show the potential for a triple return on investment around the time of birth: averting maternal and newborn deaths and preventing stillbirths. Beyond survival, being counted and optimum nutrition and development is a human right for all children, including those with disabilities. Improved human capital brings economic productivity. Efforts to reach every woman and every newborn baby, close gaps in coverage, and improve equity and quality for antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care, especially in the poorest countries and for underserved populations, need urgent attention. We have prioritised what needs to be done differently on the basis of learning from the past decade about what has worked, and what has not. Needed now are four most important shifts: (1) intensification of political attention and leadership; (2) promotion of parent voice, supporting women, families, and communities to speak up for their newborn babies and to challenge social norms that accept these deaths as inevitable; (3) investment for effect on mortality outcome as well as harmonisation of funding; (4) implementation at scale, with particular attention to increasing of health worker numbers and skills with attention to high-quality childbirth care for newborn babies as well as mothers and children; and (5) evaluation, tracking coverage of priority interventions and packages of care with clear accountability to accelerate progress and reach the poorest groups. The Every Newborn Action Plan provides an evidence-based roadmap towards care for every woman, and a healthy start for every newborn baby, with a right to be counted, survive, and thrive wherever they are born.
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Objectives: to describe the grief of mothers and fathers and its influence on their relationships after the loss of a stillborn baby. Design: a postal questionnaire at three months, one year and two years after stillbirth. Setting: a study of mothers and fathers of babies stillborn during a one-year period in the Stockholm region of Sweden. Participants: 55 parents, 33 mothers and 22 fathers. Findings: mothers and fathers stated that they became closer after the loss, and that the feeling deepened over the course of the following year. The parents said that they began grieving immediately as a gradual process, both as individuals, and together as a couple. During this grieving process their expectations, expressions and personal and joint needs might have threatened their relationship as a couple, in that they individually felt alone at this time of withdrawal. While some mothers and fathers had similar grieving styles, the intensity and expression of grief varied, and the effects were profound and unique for each individual. Key conclusions: experiences following a loss are complex, with each partner attempting to come to terms with the loss and the resultant effect on the relationship with their partner. Implications for practice: anticipating and being able to acknowledge the different aspects of grief will enable professionals to implement more effective intervention in helping couples grieve both individually and together.
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This narrative review was carried out to collate the work of researchers on health-seeking behaviour in Pakistan, to discuss the methods used, highlight the emerging themes and identify areas that have yet to be studied. Review. An overview of studies on health-seeking behaviour in Pakistan, found via searches on scholarly databases intended to locate material of medical and anthropological relevance. In total, 29 articles were reviewed with a range of different methodologies. A retrospective approach was the most common. A variety of medical conditions have been studied in terms of health-seeking behaviour of people experiencing such conditions. However, a wide range of chronic illnesses have yet to be studied. Nevertheless, some studies highlighting unusual issues such as snake bites and health-seeking behaviour of street children were also found. In terms of geographical area, the majority of studies reviewed were performed in the provinces of Sind and Punjab, with little research targeting the people from the two other provinces (Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) of Pakistan. Predominant utilization of private healthcare facilities, self-medication, involvement of traditional healers in the healthcare system, women's autonomy, and superstitions and fallacies associated with health-seeking behaviour were found to be the themes that repeatedly emerged in the literature reviewed. The sociocultural and religious background of Pakistan means that health-seeking behaviour resembles a mosaic. There is a need to improve the quality of service provided by the public healthcare sector and the recruitment of female staff. Traditional healers should be trained and integrated into the mainstream to provide adequate healthcare. Serious efforts are required to increase the awareness and educational level of the public, especially women in rural areas, in order to fight against myths and superstitions associated with health-seeking behaviour.
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Despite increasing attention and investment for maternal, neonatal, and child health, stillbirths remain invisible-not counted in the Millennium Development Goals, nor tracked by the UN, nor in the Global Burden of Disease metrics. At least 2·65 million stillbirths (uncertainty range 2·08 million to 3·79 million) were estimated worldwide in 2008 (≥1000 g birthweight or ≥28 weeks of gestation). 98% of stillbirths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, and numbers vary from 2·0 per 1000 total births in Finland to more than 40 per 1000 total births in Nigeria and Pakistan. Worldwide, 67% of stillbirths occur in rural families, 55% in rural sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, where skilled birth attendance and caesarean sections are much lower than that for urban births. In total, an estimated 1·19 million (range 0·82 million to 1·97 million) intrapartum stillbirths occur yearly. Most intrapartum stillbirths are associated with obstetric emergencies, whereas antepartum stillbirths are associated with maternal infections and fetal growth restriction. National estimates of causes of stillbirths are scarce, and multiple (>35) classification systems impede international comparison. Immediate data improvements are feasible through household surveys and facility audit, and improvements in vital registration, including specific perinatal certificates and revised International Classification of Disease codes, are needed. A simple, programme-relevant stillbirth classification that can be used with verbal autopsy would provide a basis for comparable national estimates. A new focus on all deaths around the time of birth is crucial to inform programmatic investment.
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The clinical role of the caregiver to parents in the event of a stillbirth has yet to be defined. The aim of this paper was to focus on the caregivers' support as revealed by the parents' experiences. One or both parents of 31 stillborn infants (> or =28 weeks) were interviewed twice, for a total of 57 interviews. The data analysis was conducted using a qualitative approach. Parents identified the caregivers' behavior and handling of the stillbirth as important. Findings showed that caregivers should support parents in moments of chaos and at other difficult times. The parents needed assistance in both facing and separating from the baby. The six "qualities" that summarized the findings were "support in chaos,"support in the meeting with and separation from the baby,"support in bereavement,"explanation of the stillbirth,"organization of the care," and "understanding the nature of grief." Findings indicate that the hospital is under an obligation to organize the care and make it possible for parents to see the same caregivers again, and to offer extra ultrasound investigations and checkups without unnecessary bureaucracy. We suggest that the "qualities" identified by the study findings should be implemented in clinical care, and could facilitate active guidance and counseling for bereaved parents who have experienced a stillbirth.
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This paper examines the association between birth intervals and infant and child mortality and nutritional status. Repeated analysis of retrospective survey data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) program from 17 developing countries collected between 1990 and 1997 were used to examine these relationships. The key independent variable is the length of the preceding birth interval measured as the number of months between the birth of the child under study (index child) and the immediately preceding birth to the mother, if any. Both bivariate and multivariate designs were employed. Several child and mother-specific variables were used in the multivariate analyses in order to control for potential bias from confounding factors. Adjusted odds ratios were calculated to estimate relative risk. For neonatal mortality and infant mortality, the risk of dying decreases with increasing birth interval lengths up to 36 months, at which point the risk plateaus. For child mortality, the analysis indicates that the longer the birth interval, the lower the risk, even for intervals of 48 months or more. The relationship between chronic malnutrition and birth spacing is statistically significant in 6 of the 14 surveys with anthropometric data and between general malnutrition and birth spacing in 5 surveys. However, there is a clear pattern of increasing chronic and general undernutrition as the birth interval is shorter, as indicated by the averages of the adjusted odds ratios for all 14 countries. Considering both the increased risk of mortality and undernutrition for a birth earlier than 36 months and the great number of births that occur with such short intervals, the author recommends that mothers space births at least 36 months. However, the tendency for increased risk of neonatal mortality for births with intervals of 60 or more months leads the author to conclude that the optimal birth interval is between 36 and 59 months. This information can be used by health care providers to counsel women on the benefits of birth spacing.
Lancet's Stillbirths Series steering committee. Stillbirths: why they matter
  • Froen
Froen, J.F., Cacciatore, J., McClure, E.M., Kuti, O., Jokhio, A.H., Islam, M., Shiffman, J., 2011. Lancet's Stillbirths Series steering committee. Stillbirths: why they matter. Lancet 377 (9774), 1353-1366. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62232-5.
From evidence to action to deliver a healthy start for the next generation
  • Mason