Wonderful that Vanphanom Sychareun et al have brought attention to the issues surrounding Laos’ high rate of maternal and infant deaths. Their August 2012 study “Reasons rural Laotians choose home deliveries over delivery at health facilities: a qualitative study” reveals the reasons for women’s preferences and gives basic recommendations.
The method was focus group discussions (FGD) and in-depth interviews with 71 mothers, husbands and grandmothers.
Reasons for homebirth:
1. Distance and cost of transport
2. Poor treatment/practices like horizontal birth position, episiotomies, no privacy, male staff
3. Desire for family/other children near
4. Desire for traditional birth practices: squatting position and “hot bed” (fire underbed) post-partum
What to do? Clinics should respect traditions/wishes of mothers. Further, mothers/family should be educated about high risk pregnancies so that they go to the clinic regardless of preference.