A small study of parents in rural Ghana asking about preferences for place of birth found that “fathers had an influential role in their wives’ use of pregnancy and delivery care, such that their birth location preferences impacts the women’s health-seeking behaviours”.
Leslie Cofie and colleagues at the University of North Carolina interviewed 38 parents who had experienced pregnancy or labour complications – 20 mothers and 18 fathers, all from separate families. They asked them whether they would prefer a home birth or a birth in a medical facilities. 9 of the mothers and 7 of the fathers were in favour of home birth.
The researchers observed a link between preparedness for the birth and being in favour of birth in a facility. Some fathers go with the mother to the health facilities.
Earlier studies have also shown the influence of the husband over place of birth – e.g. a 2010 study in Tanzania and a 2000 study in Uganda.
A 2012 study from Laos found that a driver of a preference for home birth is having family members around.
The woman’s desire to have family around points to the need for family inclusive health facilities, following the pattern that has emerged in developed countries: when birth is moved from home to an alien medical environment, women want to take family with them.
Cofie LE, Barrington C, Singh K, Sodzi-Tetty & Akaligaung A (2015), Birth location preferences of mothers and fathers in rural Ghana: Implications for pregnancy, labor and birth outcomes, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Photo: SidewalkSundays. Creative Commons.