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Childbirth and risks to maternal health in the obstetric culture of the Siendji Brong in Côte d’Ivoire


This paper examines the typology of childbirth of the Siendji Brong in Côte d’Ivoire, and highlights the associated psychosocial perceptions and medical practices that endanger maternal health. The research was qualitative, with an ethnographic scope. Data was collected from two focus groups, women over 50 and multiparas respectively, in order to identify the community’s physiological criteria for classifying childbirth. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with traditional midwives and parturients’ caregivers regarding psychosocial and medical aspects of childbirth. Through content analysis, informants’ representations regarding childbirth and the mechanisms underlying the risks to maternal health were brought out. The community distinguished primarily between kou gariogo, “childbirth with complications”, and kou tchrêssêguê, “uncomplicated childbirth”. Risks to maternal health stemmed from ignorance of warning signs and the practice of home birth, both perpetuated by local obstetrical culture. Communication and education are needed for social change that would reduce reproductive health risks in the community


high-risk, maternal health, obstetric culture, parturition, siendji brong