Social costs of skilled attendance at birth in rural Ghana

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2008 Jul;102(1):91-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2008.02.004. Epub 2008 Apr 8.


Objective: To examine the social costs to women of skilled attendance at birth in rural Ghana.

Method: Ethnographic data were obtained through participant observation, interviews, case histories, and focus groups and were analyzed alongside data from a birth cohort of 2878 singletons born in the Kintampo study district between July 2003 and June 2004.

Results: Most women delivered at home. Home delivery raises a woman's status in her community, while seeking skilled attendance lowers it. Women feel that seeking assistance in childbirth wastes other people's time and they value secrecy in labor. Negative treatment by health providers and expensive supplies needed for delivery also act as barriers.

Conclusion: The social costs of obtaining skilled attendance at birth must be offset by community level strategies such as mobilization of older women and husbands, and ensuring health providers extend professional, humane care to laboring women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Home Childbirth / psychology*
  • Home Childbirth / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Midwifery / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / ethnology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Privacy
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Population* / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Desirability*