Objective: To assess the ability of midwives to interpret antenatal cards and partograms correctly following completion of the Maternal Care Manual of the Perinatal Education Programme.
Study design: We conducted a prospective, controlled trial in a study town and two control towns in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. All 93 midwives caring for pregnant women in the three towns were included in the study. Samples were compared using the two-tailed Student's t-test.
Results: The marks achieved by the study group for questions from the antenatal card and the partogram improved by 33.0% (p < 0.001) and 17.5% (p = 0.001), respectively. No changes were observed in the control group.
Conclusion: Midwives that studied the Maternal Care Manual significantly improved their ability to interpret clinical information and apply knowledge. If this ability is applied in clinical practice, a reduction in maternal and perinatal deaths is possible.