A particular sense of responsibility among men for the health of their wives has been found in a study in Timor-Leste, involving 80 men in focus groups and 17 interviews with women. Many of the men said they need to be able to identify risk factors, and many linked home birth with an increased risk of maternal death. The men expressed a sense of responsibility to ensure access to antenatal care and to arrange transport.
Most of the participants, both men and women, said that the decision to seek antenatal care was a mutual one. Half the women said they consulted with their husbands with questions about the pregnancy.
The researchers found a key knowledge deficit among both men and women around birth preparedness, in particular planning for an emergency.
The researchers conclude that information for fathers is important, given their existing involvement and interest. Information about birth preparedness is particularly important. Midwives, who were held in high regard by many men and women in this study, have a golden opportunity to engage with both women and men.
Such improvements in care are important given that Timor-Leste’s maternal mortality ratio is the highest in the region, at 215 deaths per 100,000.
Wallace HJ et al (2018), The decision to seek care antenatally and during labour and birth – who and what influences this in Timor-Leste? A qualitative project exploring the perceptions of Timorese women and men, Midwifery 65
Photo: ILO in Asia and the Pacific. Creative Commons.