Exposure to domestic violence influences pregnant women's preparedness for childbirth in Nepal: A cross-sectional study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Objective This study aimed to evaluate if domestic violence affected women’s ability to prepare for childbirth. Birth preparedness and complication readiness (BP/CR) includes saving money, arranging transportation, identifying a skilled birth attendant, a health facility, and a blood donor before childbirth. During data collection, Nepal experienced two earthquakes and therefore it was possible to examine associations between domestic violence, women’s BP/CR and effects of the earthquakes. Methods Women who were between 12 and 28 weeks of gestation participated in a descriptive cross-sectional study at a hospital antenatal clinic in Nepal, where they completed a structured questionnaire on sociodemographic characteristics, obstetric history, experiences of domestic violence, and BP/CR. The 5-item Abuse Assessment Screen was used to assess prevalence of domestic violence, and a questionnaire on safe motherhood obtained from Jhpiego was used to assess BP/CR status. The participants self-completed the questionnaire on a tablet computer. Those who reported at least three out of five BP/CR activities were considered prepared for childbirth. Results A total of 1011 women participated in the study: 433 pre-earthquakes and 578 post-earthquakes. With respect to BP/CR, 78% had identified a health facility for childbirth and 65% had saved money prior to childbirth. Less than 50% had identified a birth attendant to assist with the delivery, transportation to a health facility, or arranged for a potential blood donor. Prior to the earthquakes, 38% were unprepared; by contrast, almost 62% were not prepared after the earthquakes. A significant association was found between exposure to violence and not being prepared for childbirth (AOR = 2.3, 95% CI: 1.4–3.9). The women with increased odds of not being prepared for childbirth were illiterate (AOR = 9.9, 95% CI:5.7–17), young (AOR = 3.4, 95% CI:1.6–7.2), from the most oppressed social classes (AOR = 3.0, 95% CI:1.2–7.6), were married to illiterate husbands (AOR = 2.5, 95% CI:1.2–5.2), had attended fewer than four antenatal visits (AOR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.4–2.6), had low incomes (AOR = 1.7, 95% CI:1.1–2.9) or lived in rural settings (AOR = 1.5, 95% confidence interval CI:1.2–2.1). Conclusion The paper identifies vulnerable women who require extra care from the health system, and draws attention to the need for interventions to reduce the harmful effects of domestic violence on women’s preparations for childbirth.