The African Pitocin - a midwife’s dilemma: the perception of women on the use of herbs in pregnancy and labour in Zimbabwe, Gweru

  • Tsitsi Panganai
  • Precious Shumba


Introduction: the use of natural health products is gradually increasing all over the world with up to 50% of the general population having tried at least one herbal product. This becomes a dilemma to the midwife who has limited or no knowledge on their effects in pregnancy, hence the need to explore the perceptions of women on the use herbs in pregnancy and labour. Methods: the research, which was a case study of a Claybank Private Hospital in Gweru, Zimbabwe, adopted a qualitative approach with a triangulation of data from interviews, observations and analysis of maternal records. A sample of 20 women, admitted to using herbs, was purposively selected from the labour and post natal wards. Results: a variety of substances, but mainly the elephant's dung, was used. The family, (mother) prescribed the herbs. The women did not have knowledge on how the substances work but believed in them, as they have stood the test of time. Conclusion: the African women in Zimbabwe cannot be stopped from taking herbs as it is engraved in their culture and have absolute faith in them. Whilst the herbs are assumed by the women to be effective, their safety is questionable, especially in women with underlying obstetric complications. It is therefore recommended to scientifically explore the safety and effectiveness of the most commonly used herbs if pregnancy is to be safe. Whilst the women can not be stopped from taking these herbs, it is important to build a trusting relationship between the midwife and the mother so that communication about the use of herbs can be done freely without fear or judgement.

The Pan African Medical Journal 2016;25

Author Biographies

Tsitsi Panganai
Zimbabwe Open University, Nursing Sciences, Zimbabwe
Precious Shumba
Bsc Nursing, RGN SCM Claybank Hospital, Zimbabwe

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1937-8688