The use of antenatal care in two rural districts of Upper West Region, Ghana.

Article English OPEN
Joshua Sumankuuro ; Judith Crockett ; Shaoyu Wang
  • Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  • Journal: PLoS ONE, volume 12, issue 9 (issn: 1932-6203, eissn: 1932-6203)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC5619770, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185537
  • Subject: Research Article | Sociology | Professions | Geographical Locations | Antenatal Care | Ghana | Population Groupings | Mothers | People and Places | Health Care Providers | Medical Personnel | Health Care | Africa | Labor and Delivery | Pregnancy | Birth | Maternal Health | Medicine | Families | Nurses | Health Education and Awareness | Q | R | Social Sciences | Culture | Women's Health | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Science | Medicine and Health Sciences
    mesheuropmc: reproductive and urinary physiology | hemic and lymphatic diseases | female genital diseases and pregnancy complications

Background Despite decades of implementation of maternity healthcare programmes, including a focus on increasing the use of antenatal care (ANC) and concomitant birth preparedness and complication readiness (BPCR), the uptake of ANC continues to be below expectations in many developing countries. This has attendant implications for maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates. Known barriers to ANC use include cost, distance to health care services and forces of various socio-cultural beliefs and practices. As part of a larger study on BPCR in rural Ghana, this paper reflects on the use of ANC in the study areas from rights-based and maternal engagement theoretical perspectives, with a focus on the barriers to ANC use. Methods Mixed methods approach was adopted to collect data from 8 study communities from individual in-depth interviews with 80 expectant mothers and 13 health care professionals, and 24 focus groups comprising 240 community members. The qualitative data followed a thematic analytical method, while the quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics. Results The average number of ANC visits were 3.34±1.292, and the majority of expectant mothers (71.3%) enrolled for ANC at the 8th week or later, with the longest delay recorded at the 6th month of gestation. Traditional norms significantly influenced this delay. Likewise, overall use of ANC during pregnancy was shaped by cultural factors related to perceptions of pregnancy, gender-based roles and responsibilities and concerns that ANC would result in an overweighed baby and culturally inappropriate delivery at a health care facility. Conclusion Greater understanding of the sociocultural barriers to ANC is essential if proposed changes in community-specific health education programs are to facilitate early commencement and increased use of ANC.
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