POSTPARTUM CARE PRACTICES AND THE INFLUENCING FACTORS AMONG RURAL DWELLERS IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY
Background: The weeks following childbirth are usually periods of physical and psychological recuperation known as postpartum period. However, instead of continuous recuperation after childbirth, some women continue to experience problems related to childbirth well beyond the postpartum period; and this might have been caused or exacerbated by poor postpartum care practices which they indulge in. This study was therefore aimed at investigating the postpartum care practices and the associated factors among postpartum women in rural communities in South eastern, Nigeria.
Design: The design was a cross-sectional survey involving 400 volunteering postpartum women consecutively recruited from communities in Anambra State, South Eastern Nigeria. Ethical approval and respondents’ informed consent were also obtained. A self-developed and validated questionnaire was used to collect data necessary for the study. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics.
Major findings: The major findings of the study were that a significant percentage (12.2%) of the respondents did not deliver their babies in any health facility, while 26.6% did not receive postpartum care services. There were evidences of potentially harmful postpartum care practices among the respondents, and these included: drinking of alcohol to induce faster lochia drainage (7%) and drinking herb mixtures to stop heavy lochia flow (13%). Factors that influenced these postpartum care practices were place of delivery, marital status, educational qualifications, age, beliefs and culture.
Conclusion: The study showed evidence of negative practices and the factors that influence them among the respondents.
Implication for practice: Therefore, there is a dire need for public health education programs on good postpartum care practices, to reach out to all members of the communities and enlighten them on postpartum care practices that would be beneficial to them as individuals, families, and communities.
Key words: Postpartum care practices, postnatal, Lochia drainage, perineal wound care, child birth.