Promotion of Birth Preparedness Plan in Zambia: Impact of Male Partner Involvement on Childbirth Preparation as Strategy to Improve Maternal Health Care

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DOI: 10.21522/TIJPH.2013.05.02.Art004

Authors : Elvis Chipili


Background: Every pregnant woman faces a risk of life-threatening obstetric complications. It is estimated that 398 women every year die in Zambia from pregnancy related complications out of every 100,000 live births. The primary cause of this high maternal mortality is lack of access to professional delivery care. A birth-preparedness package promotes active preparation and assists in decision-making for healthcare seeking in case of such complications. Examining the role of the family, particularly the husband, during pregnancy and childbirth is important to understanding women’s access to and utilization of professional maternal health services that can improve maternal health outcomes and prevent maternal mortality. However, in Zambia, the relationship between birth preparedness and decision-making on location of birth and assistance by skilled birth attendants in regard to male involvement is one subject that has not been studied. The purpose of this study was therefore to evaluate the impact of male partner involvement in childbirth preparation and contribute to the prevailing board of evidence on male involvement in addressing the high maternal mortality.

Methods: This paper was written through desk review of key policy documents, technical reports, publications and available internet-based literature. Primary analysis included studies from randomised controlled trials (RCT) whilst secondary analysis involved studies of non-randomised control trials, observational studies descriptive studies and key government reports.

Results: The study established that women have higher chances of delivering at the health facility and access skilled delivery care if they consulted and made the decision with their spouses. The proportion of women making savings for birth preparedness plan, including savings for emergencies and transport was very low without male partner involvement whereas involvement of male partners in ANC services increased the number of women attending antenatal care (ANC) services and resulted into a higher likelihood of expectant mother receiving not only skilled delivery services but also postpartum care.

Conclusion: This study provides novel evidence about male involvement during childbirth. The findings could have important implications for program planners, who should pursue all avenues and ways to involve husbands (male partners) in maternal health interventions and assess the effectiveness of education strategies targeted at husbands.  Therefore, it should be viewed that examining the role of the spouses, during pregnancy and childbirth is important to understanding women’s access to and utilization of professional maternal health services that can prevent maternal mortality.


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