Purpose: Access to skilled care and facilities with capacity to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care is critical to reducing maternal mortality. In rural areas of Zambia, 42% of women deliver at home, suggesting persistent challenges for women in seeking, reaching, and receiving quality maternity care. This study assessed the determinants of home delivery among remote women in rural Zambia.
Methods: A household survey was administered to a random selection of recently delivered women living 10 km or more from their catchment area health facility in 40 sites. A subset of respondents completed an in-depth interview. Multiple regression and content analysis were used to analyze the data.
Results: The final sample included 2,381 women, of which 240 also completed an interview. Households were a median of 12.8 km (interquartile range 10.9, 16.2) from their catchment area health facility. Although 1% of respondents intended to deliver at home, 15.3% of respondents actually delivered at home and 3.2% delivered en route to a facility. Respondents cited shorter than expected labor, limited availability and high costs of transport, distance, and costs of required supplies as reasons for not delivering at a health facility. After adjusting for confounders, women with a first pregnancy (adjusted OR [aOR]: 0.1, 95% CI: 0.1, 0.2) and who stayed at a maternity waiting home (MWH) while awaiting delivery were associated with reduced odds of home delivery (aOR 0.1, 95% CI: 0.1, 0.2). Being over 35 (aOR 1.3, 95% CI: 0.9, 1.9), never married (aOR 2.1, 95% CI: 1.2, 3.7), not completing the recommended four or more antenatal visits (aOR 2.0, 95% CI: 1.5, 2.5), and not living in districts exposed to a large-scale maternal health program (aOR 3.2, 95% CI: 2.3, 4.5) were significant predictors of home delivery. After adjusting for confounders, living nearer to the facility (9.5-10 km) was not associated with reduced odds of home delivery, though the CIs suggest a trend toward significance (aOR 0.7, 95% CI: 0.4, 1.1).
Conclusion: Findings highlight persistent challenges facing women living in remote areas when it comes to realizing their intentions regarding delivery location. Interventions to reduce home deliveries should potentially target not only those residing farthest away, but multigravida women, those who attend fewer antenatal visits, and those who do not utilize MWHs.
Keywords: delivery location; distance; maternal health; maternity waiting home; mixed-methods; pregnancy.