A study involving 709 women in Ethiopia has found that women are 6 times more likely to use a skilled birth attendant if their husband came to at least one antenatal care visit.
The women were interviewed twice, during the pregnancy and after the birth. 54% of the women reported at least one visit to the clinic accompanied by their husband.
The researchers refer to other evidence from Africa and Asia that corroborates the finding. They suggest that an involved man is “more likely to discuss and jointly decide on his wife’s place of birth than an uninvolved man”.
The link between the husband attending one clinic and use of a skilled birth attendant was stronger for younger women (15-25) and also for rural women. It is possible that urban women get more access to information and support than rural women and so are more likely to use a skilled birth attendant even if their husband is uninvolved.
The researchers recommend that planners of maternal health programs in Ethiopia raise awareness of husbands’ involvement in antenatal visits through mass media, religious leaders and community elders. Such efforts could help to deflate the assumption that maternal health care is an exclusively women’s concern.
Teklesilasie W & Deressa W (2018), Husbands’ involvement in antenatal care and its association with women’s utilization of skilled birth attendants in Sidama zone, Ethiopia: a prospective cohort study, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 18
Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia. Creative Commons.