The practice of the traditional birth attendants during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum period in rural South Africa.
Flomo-Jones, Dedeh Helen.
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This study was undertaken to investigate the practice of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period. The overall goal of this study was to promote safe motherhood. This study was conducted in Abaqulusi, a sub-district of KwaZulu-Natal, Zululand Health District 26, in four rural communities. A descriptive design with structured interview schedule guided the process. A convenient sample of forty-eight actively practicing trained Traditional Birth Attendants and forty-eight mothers attended by these Traditional Birth Attendants were interviewed. Of these 48 TBAs 47 were women, and one interestingly, was a man. Their age range was from 20 to over 70. Fifty percent of the mothers attended by the TBAs were between 15 and 24 years old. This finding is significant because the result shows that most of the mothers who are attended and delivered by TBAs are a high risk group. Data generated was quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed. The study revealed that the TBAs attended the mothers during the pregnancy, labor, and postpartum periods. All TBAs examined mothers with their hands, gave education on the importance of good nutrition, child spacing, and follow up care. The study showed that during labor 100 % of TBAs deliver babies on the floor with an old blanket, in the lithotomy position and encouraged the mother to empty her bladder before and during labor. They wore gloves or plastic bags. They examined mothers before delivery was done. They measured the umbilical cord, tied it with string and cut it. They cleaned the baby's mouth, nose, and eyes with a clean cloth, and wrapped the baby up and put it near the mother. They delivered the placenta, checked it to see if all was out. They washed the mother and put her on her bed. During the postpartum period, 100 % of the TBAs visited the mother at her home for one week to assess and care for the mother and her baby. The TBAs examined the mother, checked the umbilical cord and bathed the baby. They educated the mother about breastfeeding, caring for her breast, and eating balanced meals to produce adequate breast milk. The study revealed that the mothers perceived the TBAs as caring. The mothers loved the TBAs because the TBAs were easily accessible, even at night. The conclusion reached in this study is that TBAs are of great value to the rural communities of South Africa. They need to be supported by the health professionals so thal tbeir practice can be recognized. They form part of the maternal and child health care. Their practice is indispensable.