Maternal and Newborn-care Practices during Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Postnatal Period: A Comparison in Three Rural Districts in Bangladesh

S. Barnett, K. Azad, S. Barua, M. Mridha, M. Abrar, A. Rego, A. Khan, D. Flatman, A. Costello


The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of maternal and newborn-care practices among women reporting a birth in the previous year in three districts in different divisions of Bangladesh. In 2003, 6,785 women, who had delivered a newborn infant in the previous year, across three districts in Bangladesh, were interviewed. Overall, less than half of the women received any antenatal care, and 11% received a minimum of four check-ups. Only 18% took iron tablets for at least four months during pregnancy. Over 90% of the 6,785 deliveries took place at home, and only 11% were attended either by a doctor or by a nurse. The mothers reported three key hygienic practices in 54% of deliveries: at­tendants washing their hands with soap and boiling cord-tie and blade for cutting the cord. Forty-four percent of the 6,785 infants were bathed immediately after delivery, and 42% were given colostrum as their first food. The results suggest that maternal and newborn-care remains a cause of concern in rural Bangladesh. Short-term policies to promote healthy behaviour in the home are needed, in addition to the long-term goal of skilled birth attendance.

Key words: Pregnancy; Safe motherhood; Newborn care; Healthcare-seeking behaviour; Cross-sec­tional studies; Retrospective studies; Baseline surveys;  Bangladesh

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