A study in the rural Tandahimba district of Tanzania involving 523 women found that men play a critical role in ensuring birth preparation takes place and is paid for and in ensuring that mothers attend a birth facility.
68% of the women in the sample gave birth at a facility. 95% made at least some birth preparations. Preparations included obtaining cotton gauze (93 %), a plastic cover to deliver on (84 %), gloves (72 %), clean clothes (70 %), and making money available (42 %).
Mothers without a husband present are less likely to attend a health facility. The researchers found that even if a father leaves money for transport but is not able to be present at the onset of labour, the mother is less likely to get to a health facility for the birth. The researchers observed that it is unusual for a mother to give birth at home if the father is present.
The study, unlike others we have reported here, most recently from the slums of India, did not look at the influence of mothers-in-law, which is an oversight given the matrilineal tradition in this part of Tanzania, but it reaches the same conclusion.
The authors recommend strong engagement with families by community health workers to enhance both birth preparedness and birth in facilities.
Tancred T, Marchant T, Hanson C, Schellenberg J & Manzi F (2016), Birth preparedness and place of birth in Tandahimba district, Tanzania: what women prepare for birth, where they go to deliver, and why, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Photo: Jen Wen Luoh. Creative Commons.