Background: Access to antenatal care (ANC) and postnatal care (PNC) services has a great deal of impacts on major causes of infant death and significantly affects trends of mortality in a population. Antenatal care may play an indirect role in reducing maternal mortality by encouraging women to deliver with assistance of a skilled birth attendant or in a health facility. In most rural settings of Ethiopia, there are challenges in increasing such health care service utilization mainly due to the fact that the decisions that lead women to use the services seem to occur within the context of their marriage , household and family setting.
Objective: Examining the prevalence and factors associated with antenatal Care (ANC) and Postnatal Care (PNC) service utilizations.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional population based study undertaken in 10 rural villages of the Sidama zone, southern Ethiopia. The data were collected from a representative sample of 1,094 households drawn from the study population using a combination of simple random and multistage sampling techniques. Two dependent variables were used in the analysis: The ANC, measured by whether a woman got the service (at least once) from a health professional or not during her last pregnancy and PNC which was approximated by whether the last born child completed the required immunization or not. Household and women's characteristics were used as explanatory variables for both dependent variables.
Results: The study revealed that the level of ANC and PNC service utilizations is 77.4 % and 37.2% respectively. The predicted probabilities, using logistic regression, showed that women who are literate, have exposure to media, and women with low parity are more likely to use both ANC and PNC services.
Conclusion: Antenatal care service utilization was generally good while the postnatal care given to new born children was very low compared to other population groups in the region. Promoting women's education and behavioral change communication at grass root level, provision of the services at both home and health facilities, and improving the quality and capacity of the health providers are some of the recommendations forwarded.
Keywords: Antenatal Care; Sidama Zone; Southern Ethiopia; complete immunization; postnatal care; service utilization.