Title: A Qualitative Study of Birth Preparedness and Complication Readiness among Community Members in a Rural Area
Author: Dr Ashima Bhaumik
Birth preparedness and complication readiness (BP/CR) comprise a strategy to make women plan for birth, recognize common complications and encourage them to seek professional care in order to reduce poor pregnancy outcome by reducing the delays in seeking, reaching or receiving care. However, there are lacunae somewhere as the BP/CR messages do not translate to complete comprehension and full utilization of facility delivery. This qualitative study using focus group discussions (FGDs) explores the perceptions of the community on BP/CR.
Methods: Six FGDs were conducted during May-June 2016. The FGDs had 10–12 participants in each group. Each group comprised older men and women and young men and women in a community in rural Maharashtra. A pretested questionnaire was used to conduct the FGDs. The topics for discussion centred around community experiences with antenatal and postnatal care services, cultural and social issues surrounding birth preparedness, recognition of maternal danger signs, and the use of traditional practices during pregnancy and childbirth.
Qualitative content analysis was used to analyse the data.
Results: The study revealed that hospital delivery was perceived to be safer than home delivery. Reasons cited for not attending the minimum requirement of four antenatal care services or two postnatal care services within the first month after delivery included distance to the health facility, poor road conditions and lack of money for transport. Findings included lack of community awareness about the danger signs during pregnancy and childbirth, that traditional birth attendants were important but that deliveries needed skilled care.
Conclusion: This study shows that the perceptions of the community regarding BP/CR are in favour of skilled care. The community is aware of the importance of attending ANC, saving money for buying supplies and organizing transport, but there was little awareness about recognising complications and importance of obstetric emergency care. It is important to provide information on BP/CR and schemes like JSK, JSSK through community health workers particularly during antenatal visits.
Keywords: Focus group discussions, perceptions, birth preparedness and complication readiness, rural Maharashtra.