Fathers’ knowledge of maternal health in Ethiopia


A study involving 399 fathers in Axum, Ethiopia, has explored the extent of fathers’ knowledge of danger signs during pregnancy and childbirth and after. The study was driven by the still high rates of maternal mortality in Ethiopia (420 per 100,000 in 2014). Fathers completed interviewer assisted questionnaires.

Their knowledge was measured as follows.

Danger signs during pregnancy (vaginal bleeding, blurred vision, swollen hands/face):

  • 73% mentioned 1 or more of them, unprompted
  • 38% mentioned 2 or more
  • 13% mentioned all three

Danger signs during labour (vaginal bleeding, convulsions, prolonged labour, retained placenta):

  • 83% mentioned 1 or more of them, unprompted
  • 57% mentioned 2 or more
  • 25% mentioned 3 or more
  • 14% mentioned all four

Postpartum danger signs (vaginal bleeding, foul smell, high fever):

  • 46% mentioned 1 or more of them, unprompted
  • 18% mentioned 2 or more
  • 8% mentioned all three

The level of involvement of the fathers in antenatal care as also surveyed:

  • 87% prepared clean clothes and other materials
  • 59% arranged household support for the woman’s absence
  • 55% identified a preferred birthplace
  • 48% made blood ready for emergency
  • 45% identified transportation
  • 40% personally accompanied the mother to a health clinic
  • 40% saved money for costs of skilled and emergency care
  • 29% identified skilled birth attendance.

47% of fathers did 5 or more of these things.

The study provides a baseline to measure the effectiveness of services to inform fathers about how to respond quickly danger signs. The researchers consider this to be an important way to avoid the delays that can cause the death of the mother.


Baraki Z, Wendem F, Gerensea H 7& Teklay H (2019), Husbands involvement in birth preparedness and complication readiness in Axum town, Tigray region, Ethiopia, 2017, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 19

Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia. Creative Commons.