Uterotonic use at home births in low-income countries: a literature review

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2010 Mar;108(3):269-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2009.12.001. Epub 2010 Jan 6.


Objectives: This literature review compiles data on rates of use, indications, types of provider, mode of administration, and dose of uterotonics used for home births in low-income countries, and identifies gaps meriting further research.

Methods: Published and unpublished English language articles from 1995 through 2008 pertaining to home use of uterotonics were identified via electronic searches of medical and social science databases. In addition, bibliographies of articles were examined for eligible studies. Data were abstracted and analyzed by the objectives outlined for this review.

Results: Twenty-three articles met the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Use rates of uterotonics at home births ranged widely from 1% to 69%, with the large majority of observations from South Asia. Descriptive studies suggest that home use of uterotonics before delivery of the baby are predominantly administered by nonprofessionals to accelerate labor, and are not perceived as unsafe.

Conclusions: To achieve maximum benefit and minimal harm, programs that increase access to uterotonics for postpartum hemorrhage prevention must take into account existing practices among pregnant women. Further research regarding access to uterotonics and intervention studies for provider behavior change regarding uterotonic use is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Home Childbirth*
  • Humans
  • Oxytocics / therapeutic use*
  • Pregnancy


  • Oxytocics