Abstract 3.9




Obstetric Practices in Spiritual Churches in South Eastern Nigeria

E. Udoma, M. John, G. Udosen, A. Udo 
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 
University of Calabar 
Department of Nursing Science, 
College of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar 








Spiritual-church based health clinics identified by public health coordinators were visited, between May 2002 and September 2002. Practitioners were interviewed regarding their obstetric practices and facilities available to them. The 47 spiritual church based birth places were located in urban and sub urban areas, with majority of labour rooms attached to the churches. Fifteen (36.9%) of each birthing places had concrete floor, running (tap) water and electricity. Thirty three (70.2%) had vono beds while 15(31.9%) had babies’ cots, and orthodox delivery instruments in 10 (21.3%). For conducting delivery, 33 (70.2%) used delivery couch or wooden tables, 9(11.1%) had native earthen bed while 5(10.6%) conducted delivery on mats spread on the floor. The attendants were women aged between 25 and 65 years with 20 (20.6%) married to Pastors in charge of the church, and 54 (55.7%) had no formal education. Twenty one (44.7%) of the centres kept delivery records with no records of deaths or complicated cases. Twenty eight (59.6%) centres performed vaginal examination during pregnancy and out of these 17(60.7%) used their bare hands lubricated with olive oil. All attendants prescribed prayers and fasting at least monthly to pregnant women with administration of “holy water” and olive oil. Their predictions of complicated cases were based on God’s revelation in 21(44.7%). During delivery, attendants in 14(29.8%) centres used gloves while 33(70.2%) used bare hands with or without olive oil. Regarding what each centre does when confronted with complications, majority 26(55.3%) offer prayers and invite prayer band, while 14(29.8%) refer patients to orthodox health facilities. Suggestions are made on how to improve their quality of obstetric care with the aim of reducing maternal mortality in our environment.


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