Upright or dorsal? childbirth positions among antenatal clinic attendees in Southwestern Nigeria
Background: Upright childbirth positions are associated with better delivery outcomes. These positions such as kneeling and squatting were the norm for childbirth in indigenous Nigerian custom. However, westernization has largely replaced them with supine positions.
Objective: This study was conducted to compare the knowledge, attitude and experience regarding childbirth positions between antenatal clinic attendees in southwest and northwest Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: A mixed methods design was employed. Quantitative data were obtained using a structured questionnaire in Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile‑Ife (n = 201) and Federal Medical Centre, Katsina (n = 104). Knowledge was graded as poor, fair or good whereas attitude toward each position was graded as favoured, indifferent or against. The resulting proportions were compared using Chi‑square. Qualitative data were obtained through key‑informant interviews.
Results: Knowledge of childbirth positions was generally poor. Overall, only to women (0.6%) had good knowledge, whereas 60 (19.7%) had fair knowledge and the rest (79.7%) had poor knowledge. More women in Katsina than Ile‑Ife knew the squatting position (32.7% vs. 16.4%; P < 0.001) and favoured it (25.0% vs. 7.5%; P < 0.001), whereas more Ile‑Ife women knew the lithotomy position (42.3% vs. 26.9%; P = 0.01). Attitudes towards the remaining positions were comparable between them. Key‑informant interviews of the midwives revealed that they were trained to conduct delivery exclusively in the supine positions. They were, however, interested in learning the use of upright positions.
Conclusion: Knowledge about childbirth positions was very poor. Women in northwestern Nigeria were more aware and favorably disposed to childbirth in their customary squatting position. Training of Nigerian midwives on upright childbirth positions is recommended.
Keywords: Childbirth position; knowledge; labour duration; practice; preference; Yoruba women
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