Factors Influencing Women’s Choice Of Place Of Delivery In Nigeria

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1.1 Background to the Study

Increasing women’s access to quality skilled attendant has become a focus of global efforts to realize the right of every woman to the best possible healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth (UNFPA, 2010). Several authors have postulate that skilled attendants during labour, delivery and in the early postpartum period can prevent up to 75% or more of maternal deaths (Harvey, 2004 et al; Koblinsky, Heichelheim 1999).


Use of a skilled attendant (doctor, nurse, or midwife) at birth is one of the recognized indicators for measuring progress towards the Millennium Development Goal 5, that is, reduction of maternal mortality ratio. Improving women’s health is the fifth Millennium Development Goal as adopted by heads of states in September 2000. The agreed target is to reduce, by 2015, maternal mortality in developing countries by 75% of the 1990 figure. (MDG)


Despite various national and international efforts initiated to improve maternal health, more than half a million women worldwide die each year as a result of complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth the majority equally divided between Africa and Asia (Ronsmans, 2006). According to (Kowalewski, 2000) less than 1% of the pregnancy-related deaths occur in the more developed parts of the world, making maternal mortality the health indicator showing the greatest disparity between developing and developed countries. Despite the enhanced focus and awareness over the past decades, the situation in the poorest countries has not improved, and maternal mortality reduction is one of the explicit health millennium development goals.


Since the second half of the 20th century, the majority of births in the western world have taken place in hospital. Medicalisation of childbirth is a central feature in Western societies (Johanson, 2002). The majority of women living in high and middle-income countries have given birth in hospitals since the middle of the 20th century. However, there are regions where home birth is considered part of normal practice. The most cited case is The Netherlands where planned home birth is supported by the official healthcare system. Here, planned home birth is considered an appropriate choice for a woman of low risk and approximately 30% of all births take place at home (Hendrix 2009).


A significant proportion of mothers in developing countries still deliver at home unattended by skilled health workers (Montagu D, Yamey G, Visconti A, Harding A, Yoong J 2011). In diverse contexts, individual factors including maternal age, parity, education and marital status, household factors including family size, household wealth, and community factors including socioeconomic status, community health infrastructure, region, rural/urban residence, available health facilities, and distance to health facilities determine place of delivery and these factors interacting diverse ways in each context to determine place of delivery. In developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of disability and death among women of reproductive age.


Indeed, the majority of maternal deaths occur either during or shortly after delivery. According to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF 2009), pregnancy and childbirth related complications claim lives of at least 585,000 women every year in developing world. Pregnancy related problems include anemia, bleeding, infection, damage of the uterus, obstructed labor and abortion. Nearly all maternal deaths in developing countries occur among the vulnerable and disadvantaged population groups and yet most of these causes are preventable. Although the main causes of maternal mortality are well known and the knowledge as well as appropriate technology to reduce it has been available, maternal health problems are still highly prevalent in most African societies.


Statistics by (WHO 2010) found that 92% of women receive antenatal care from a trained health worker but when it comes to delivery time, most of them do not deliver at health units, but instead deliver elsewhere. It was estimated that about 15% of deliveries have complications that require skilled medical intervention. Yet only 53% of deliveries in developing countries take place with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant compared to 99% in developed countries. In resource-poor settings, home delivery is usually the cheapest option, but is associated with attendant risks of infection and lack of available equipment should complications occur. (Thind A. et al, 2008).


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Basing on the fact that various efforts have been put in place by the Nigerian Government, through free maternity services to increase the percentage of mothers who deliver from the health facility under the assistance of a skilled health worker, the majority of mothers still deliver at home without skilled birth attendants. Statistics by the District Health information System (DHIS) indicate that only 36% of births in Enugu State are attended by a skilled birth attendant. This is way too far the targets set at the International Conference on Population and Development(ICPD) whose goal is to have more than 80% of deliveries assisted by skilled attendants globally by 2005, 85% by 2010 and 90% by 2015 (UNFPA 2010).


Home deliveries are poorly managed and inadequate care is offered during the critical hours of a woman’s life. This exposes the mother and the baby to health risks and complications which include anemia, bleeding, infection and if immediate interventions are not taken this can lead to death or damage of the reproductive organs.  It is evident from reports that every day, almost 800 women die in pregnancy or childbirth worldwide. Evidence shows that infants whose mothers die are more likely to die before reaching their second birthday than infants whose mothers survive. And for every woman who dies, 20 or more experience serious complications (UNFPA 2010).


Maternal health services have been improved upon in all the health centers in Nsukka, Enugu State. However, many women do not utilize these facilities and instead seek delivery care from high risk places. Giving birth without the assistance of a skilled birth attendant can pose life threatening situations incase complications occur during the process.  This study, therefore, was set to investigate factors that influence women’s choice of place of delivery in Nsukka, Enugu State.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was toinvestigate factors influencing women’s choice of place of delivery in Nsukka, Enugu State.

1.4 Research Objectives

The purpose of the study was achieved through the following objectives:

i.Todetermine how demographic factors influence the choice of place of delivery among women in Nsukka, Enugu State.

ii.To establish how socio-cultural factors influence the choice of place of delivery among women in Nsukka, Enugu State.

iii.To examine the influence of economic factors on the choice of place of delivery among women in Nsukka, Enugu State.

iv.To establish how Antenatal Clinic attendance influences the choice of place of delivery among women in Nsukka, Enugu State.


1.5 Research questions

The study sought to answer the following questions;

  1. To what extend do demographic factors influence the choice of place of delivery among women in Nsukka, Enugu State?
  2. How do socio cultural factors influence the choice of place of delivery among women in Nsukka, Enugu State?
  • To what extend do economic factors influence the choice of place of delivery among women in Nsukka, Enugu State?
  1. To what extend does Antenatal Clinic attendance influence the choice of place of delivery among women in Nsukka, Enugu State

1.6 Significance of the study

The findings of this study may have both theoretical and practical implications for the future of suitability of place of delivery in Nsukka. Theoretically, the study may contribute to the advancement of knowledge about factors determining the choice of place of delivery in Enugu State specifically Nsukka. The study might also have practical significance in that, it may assist in determining the level of utilization of SBAs and TBAs at birth. The findings may be of immediate benefit to the Ministry of Health in the formulation of future public health policies aimed at integrating TBAs in the health system as agents of change to enhance places of delivery. Similarly, results of this study may enlighten the public especially mothers and spouses on the importance of considering a suitable and safe place of delivery. In addition, this can lead to appropriate interventions by non-governmental organizations and other key stakeholders that have established or intend to establish reproductive health programs. The study may also forms a base on which others can develop their studies based on the gaps


1.7 Assumptions of the Study

An assumption is a supposition that a fact is true (Oso &Onen, 2008). This study was guided by the following assumptions; that is, in every homestead visited, there will be a woman of child bearing age. It is also assumed that the respondents will spare their time to fill in the questionnaire and that they will give truthful and honest responses.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

The limitations of the study were; inadequate time to collect data, therefore two research assistants were hired to assist in carrying out the task.

Cases of respondents not cooperating were experienced and even some had to withdraw from the exercise after answering some questions because they were not convinced if the study was done for genuine reasons.

1.9 Delimitations of the study

The study was carried in Nsukka, Enugu State leaving out other LGA in the state. The findings of the study may not be generalized to an urban setup since majority of mothers with challenges in choice of place of delivery are mainly in rural set up.

The study also focused on women of childbearing age in Nsukka only. The findings therefore may not be generalized to the entire women in the state. Future researchers are encouraged to do further research in this area.

1.10 Definition of terms used in the study


Women: This refers to all females of reproductive age that is, 15 years to 49 years of age.


Choice of place of delivery: This is the preferred option by the women who are giving birth; it

could either be home, health facility or assisted by traditional birth attendant.


No. of children: This refers to the number of children a woman has at the time of making the choice.


No. of household members: This refers to the number people in a particular household.


Marital status: This refers to whether a person is married, single, divorced or widowed.


Level of education: This refers to the level of schooling a person has reached, that is, primary education, secondary or tertiary education.


Antenatal Care: This entails the care that is given to women who are expectant or pregnant.


Decision maker: This is the person who makesa choice regarding family issues.


Occupation: This is the type of work that a person does.


Level of monthly household income: This refers to the total monthly earnings in a given family.


Transportation means: This refers to what is used to move from one place to another, that is, on foot, motorbike, private or public means.


1.11 Organization of the study

This study is presented in five chapters and is focused towards investigating factors that influence women’s choice of place of delivery.


Chapter one covers the background of the study, statement of the study, purpose of the study, research objectives, research questions, significance of the problem, basic assumptions of the study, limitations of the study, delimitation of the study, definitions of significant terms used in the study, and the organization of the study.


The second chapter looks at the literature review of the factors that influence women’s choice of place of delivery, theoretical framework, conceptual framework, gaps in the literature reviewed and summary of literature reviewed.


Chapter three covers the methodology used for the study. It contains the research design, target population, sample size and sampling procedures, data collection instruments used, data analysis techniques used and ethical considerations.

Chapter four gives a comprehensive explanation of the tools used for data analysis in this study, presentation and interpretation of the results of the study and the tests that were done to determine associations between independent and dependent variables.


Chapter five provides a summary of the findings, discussions, conclusions and recommendations of the study and contains suggestions for further studies.



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