Husbands' and Wives' Perspectives on provision of support during pregnancy and labour in Mufulira District

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Chongo, Charity
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Since the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy came into power in Zambia, women's health concerns have been discussed in many fora and they are yet to evolve into key policy issues. One of the issues in vogue relates to pregnancy and labour and child birth and it is believed that husbands have a cardinal role to play in supporting their spouses throughout pregnancy and during labour. The purpose of the study was to explore the husbands' and wives' perspectives on provision of support during pregnancy and labour in order to encourage their participation with the view of improving maternal health. A cross sectional descriptive study was carried out in Mufulira District. A purposive sample of 34 married expectant mothers aged 20 to 50 years participated in four focus group discussions. The focus group discussions were conducted at clinic 1 and clinic 3 in Kantashi Township. A probability sample of 385 married men aged 20 to 54 years who participated were selected using systematic sampling from the six randomly selected residential areas in Kantashi Township. The men were interviewed face to face interview using questionnaire. The qualitative data was collected by focus group discussions between 2 May 2007 and 6* June 2007. The four focus group discussions were recorded on a tape recorder. The field notes and transcribed interviews were written and divided into subheadings and themes. This was then deposited into appropriate categories of research issues. The information was used to formulate a standardised structure questionnaire for the husbands.Quantitative data was collected using the standardised structure questionnaire through face to face interviews. Trained research assistants were used. Pilot test was done in the third week of June 2007. Data was collected from first week of August to first week of October 2007. Data from the field was cleaned and analysed using computer soft ware SPSS versions 11.0. The main findings of the study were: the expectant women reported that they want their husbands to be present at home more often, to have more time to laugh together and prepare for the baby together and also to help with some house work. They also shared that they would want to have financial support that would help them have enough food and meet the stipulated requirements at the health centres. Most women reported that they would want their husbands to be present during labour, however; they had reservations on the husband being present during childbirth. The husbands on the other hand reported that they always frequently (69.6%) take time to attend to the daily needs of their wives at home. The supportive behaviours that husbands exhibited were being faithful to their wives (97.1%), maintaining their wives morale (96.6%) and emphasizing behaviour according to professional advice given at the clinic by health care professionals (97.1%). However, the supportive behaviour that was least provided was helping with house work (28.6%)). The men reported that they were doing more for their wives at home (98.7%)). The study findings showed that 96.6% of the husbands occasionally/ rarely/ never accompanied their wives to the antenatal care clinic though 95.3% reported that they were doing more for their wives at the antenatal care clinic. It was observed that support that was always provided at the antenatal care clinic included emphasizing professional advice give and encouraging maintaining morale. The least supportive behaviour which the husbands exhibited was touching and soothing her to make her comfortable. With regard to provision of support during labour the study findings showed that 53% of husbands were more likely to take time off to attend to the wife during the period of admission during labour and only 12.5% would take time to attend to their wives during the process of delivery. The supportive behaviour that was given was maintaining their wives' morale and emphasizing behaviour according to professional advice given and providing means of transportation.
Pregnancy, Labour and Child Bearing- Zambia