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Keywords:

  • postpartum hemorrhage;
  • maternal mortality;
  • safe motherhood;
  • birth preparedness;
  • health seeking behavior

This study describes the results of a Morbidity and Performance Assessment (MAP) conducted to provide insight into the medical factors contributing to maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality in a rural district of northern India, and to use these insights to develop a locally appropriate, community-based safe motherhood program The MAP study was based on verbal autopsy method. Five hundred ninety-nine women (or in the case of 9 maternal deaths, a family member) participated in the study. This article describes a subsample of women who reported signs or symptoms suggesting excessive bleeding (n = 159). Findings include a poor knowledge of danger signs; poor problem recognition during labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period; and a low level of health seeking that was consistent with poor recognition. Maternal sociodemographic characteristics, antenatal care use, and knowledge of danger signs were generally not associated with problem recognition and health seeking. The case fatality rate was 4%. These findings suggest an urgent need to understand the phenomenon of problem recognition and to integrate this into the design of interventions to reduce delays in health seeking.