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“Childbirth is not a sickness; a woman should struggle to give birth”: exploring continuing popularity of home births in western Kenya

Violet Naanyu
Joyce Baliddawa
Beatrice Koech
Julie Karfakis
Nancy Nyagoha


More than 95% of Kenyan women receive antenatal care (ANC) and only 62% access skilled delivery. To explore women‘s opinion on delivery location, 20 focus group discussions were conducted at an urban and rural setting in western Kenya. Participants included health care workers, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), and women who attended at least four ANC visits and delivered. Six in-depth interviews were also conducted with a combination of women who gave birth in a facility and at home. Discussions were digitally recorded and transcribed for analysis. Data was subjected to content analysis for deductive and inductive codes. Emergent themes were logically organized to address the study topic. Findings revealed that delivery services were sought from both skilled attendants and TBAs. TBAs remain popular despite lack of acknowledgement from mainstream health care. Choice of delivery is influenced by financial access, availability and quality of skilled delivery services, physical access, culture, ignorance about childbirth processes, easy access to familiar TBAs, fear of hospitals and hospital procedures, and social stigma. Appreciation of TBA referral role, quality maternity service, and reproductive health education can encourage facility deliveries. Formal and informal health workers should cooperate in innovative ways and ensure safe motherhood in Kenya.

Keywords: Delivery decision; Traditional birth attendants; Skilled delivery; Focus group discussions; Kenya

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eISSN: 1118-4841