Women’s perceptions of late antenatal booking in Lusaka province, Zambia.

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Bweupe, Masozi, Victoria Nkunika.
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The University of Zambia
Background: Antenatal care provided by skilled health care professionals such as midwives is one of the three pillars of maternity care aimed at reducing maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. In order to maximise the benefits of this pillar, pregnant women are required to book before 12 weeks gestation. However, statistics from Lusaka province continue showing that pregnant women book late. Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of women in Lusaka province towards late antenatal booking. Methods: The study was carried out using a descriptive cross-sectional qualitative design. Purposive sampling was utilised to select the study participants and the settings. Nineteen pregnant women with diverse gravidity from both rural and urban areas of Lusaka province were recruited from three health facilities. Data were tape-recorded and collected through indepth interviews using a semi-structured interview guide. The data were analysed using content analysis following Collaizzi‟s seven steps of analysis. Findings: Two major themes namely; „Unaware of the concept of late antenatal care (ANC) booking‟ and „Perceived barriers to timely ANC booking‟ emerged from the data. The first major theme was informed by two subthemes namely; Unsure of ideal ANC booking time; Women‟s decision making on timely ANC booking. The second major theme was informed by five subthemes; „The need to come with spouse/partner‟; „Fear of getting tested for illnesses‟; „Attached monetary cost to ANC booking‟; „Stigma attached to single parenthood‟; and „Amenorrhoea due to contraceptive use‟. Conclusion: The participants‟ perceptions towards ANC booking, though late, were influenced by the benefits of attending ANC as well as socio-cultural trends related to pregnancy. Nonetheless, they did not downplay the fundamental impact of the ANC programme, which is meant to safeguard the wellbeing of their health and that of their unborn babies. It is therefore, recommended that in order to enhance positive birth outcomes, the timing for booking should be one of the care strategies that should be strengthened in the provision of ANC. Key words: Women, perceptions, antenatal booking, antenatal care, pregnancy, midwives, nurses.
Antenatal mothers. , Antenatal clinics. , Antenatal care services.