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Uterotonic Use at Childbirth in Ghana: A Qualitative Study of Practices, Perceptions, and Knowledge Among Facility-Based Health Care Providers and Community Members

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PURPOSE: Uterotonic drugs, administered immediately after delivery, can prevent postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). As programs expand uterotonic access in settings of high maternal mortality, it is important to understand why and how these drugs are currently used. This qualitative study aimed to describe Ghanaian health care providers' and community members' knowledge, perceptions, and practices of uterotonic usage at or near labor and delivery.

METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted in 3 districts with 185 physicians, medical assistants, midwives, nurses, new mothers, mothers aged 50 years and older, traditional birth attendants, and chemists.

FINDINGS: Providers described using misoprostol most commonly for labor induction, oxytocin for labor augmentation and PPH prevention, and ergometrine for PPH treatment. Unsafe practices and knowledge gaps were identified regarding labor augmentation and uterotonic storage. Community members reported experience with uterotonics in facility deliveries. Community-based use of pharmaceutical uterotonics was rarely reported, except misoprostol for pregnancy termination; however, community members described use of herbal medicines for intended uterotonic effect. Across respondent categories, uterotonics were more commonly associated with accelerating delivery than PPH prevention.

CONCLUSION: Programs promoting facility childbirth and/or uterotonic coverage at home births should consider these underlying patterns of use and encourage safe practices through provider and community engagement.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2014-03-01

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Childbirth is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal publishing original research, reviews, and case studies concerned with the practice of midwifery, women's health, prenatal care, and the birth process. The journal encourages the exploration of the complex and contextual issues surrounding childbirth provision and outcomes and invites manuscripts from a wide range of clinical, theoretical, political, methodological, psychological, public health, policy, and multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.
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