Health Care–Seeking Practices of Pregnant Women and the Role of the Midwife in Cape Town, South Africa

Authors

  • Naeemah Abrahams rn, rm, mphil,

    Corresponding author
      Gender and Health Research Group, Medical Research Council, P.O. Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505 Cape Town, South Africa.
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    • Naeemah Abrahams is a senior scientist working as a researcher with the Gender & Health Group of the Medical Research Council of South Africa. She is a trained nurse and has a Master's degree in Public Health. She currently is completing her PhD in Public Health.

  • Rachel Jewkes mbbs, msc, mfphm, md,

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    • Rachel Jewkes is the Director of the Gender & Health Group of the Medical Research Council of South Africa. She is a public health physician, an epidemiologist, and has a strong interest in medical anthropology. She has special research interests in violence against women, youth sexuality, and patients' perceptions of quality of care.

  • Zodumo Mvo socsc (hon), mphil

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    • Zodumo Mvo studied anthropology before undertaking a Master's degree in Epidemiology while working as a researcher at the Medical Research Council. She is currently studying medicine at the University of Natal.


Gender and Health Research Group, Medical Research Council, P.O. Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505 Cape Town, South Africa.

ABSTRACT

The objective of this study was to investigate the health-seeking practices of pregnant women in a periurban area in Cape Town, South Africa. This qualitative study was based on 103 minimally structured in-depth interviews of 32 pregnant women. Most women were interviewed on several occasions, and a group discussion was held with women. The interviews were taped, transcribed, analyzed ethnographically, and, if necessary, translated into English. Antenatal care attendance was influenced by a number of factors, including women's knowledge of the role of antenatal care, perceived health needs, booking systems, nurse-patient relationships, economics, child care, and transport. The expected benefits were weighed against the anticipated costs before decisions about seeking care were made. The findings highlight the importance of women's perceptions of quality of care in influencing their health seeking practices. The study suggests that considerably more attention needs to be given to this aspect of maternity services.

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