Tanzania Journal of Health Research

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Prevalent use of herbs for reduction of labour duration in Mwanza, Tanzania: are obstetricians aware?

Haruna I. Dika, Mauki Dismas, Shabani Iddi, Richard Rumanyika


Background: The use of herbs during pregnancy and labour is rapidly increasing because the herbs are considered to be natural and therefore free of risks.  Despite of this perception, a number of herbs have been reported to have negative effects to the new-borns and the mothers.  Therefore, this study aimed to determine the prevalence and factors associated with the use of herbs during labour among women in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Methods: The study involved women who delivered at Bugando Medical Centre and Sekou Toure Hospital in Mwanza, north-western Tanzania. Data were collected using questionnaires.  Comparison of prevalence of herb use by various factors was done. 

Results: A total of 178 women were involved in the study. The mean age of participants was 26.6 ± 5.4 years. The prevalence of herb use was found to be 23.0%. The use of herbs was significantly associated with marital status (p = 0.011) and the use during previous deliveries (p = 0.000).

Conclusion: The study findings signify that, about a quarter of women in Mwanza use herbs during childbirth and the use encourages recurrent use of these herbs in subsequent pregnancies. A large scale survey is recommended to determine the extent of use of traditional herbs during pregnancy and childbirth countrywide. Studies to determine the toxic profile of the herbs which are used are also needed so as to address the matter to the community. 

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