Intrapartum practices to limit vertical transmission of HIV
The need to improve health services to HIV-positive women requires a specific focus on limiting mother-to-child transmission. Vertical transmission most often takes place during the intrapartum period; hence, it is essential to alert midwives to what constitutes safe or risky intrapartum practices. Midwives in the southern region of the North West Province of South Africa were surveyed for their knowledge of safe intrapartum practices that can limit vertical transmission of HIV, consequently indicating which intrapartum practices prevail in the region. We used a quantitative survey design and collected data by means of a questionnaire and checklist. A purposeful availability sample of 31 midwives who work in all four hospitals in the province was used and a random sample of 401 obstetric records was audited. Data were analysed by means of frequency analysis, effect sizes and cross-reference. A slight majority of the midwives had sufficient knowledge to distinguish between risky and safe practices. However, safe intrapartum practices are not always carried out and this raises concerns. Accordingly, we formulate general recommendations for nursing education, future research, and midwifery practice. In particular we suggest ways the national Guidelines for Maternity Care in South Africa may be adapted and better implemented to enhance safe intrapartum practices to limit vertical transmission of HIV.