This study was conducted in Lebanon with the main objectives of acquiring baseline data on practices and routines applied in the obstetrics ward for women having normal delivery; estimating the frequency of certain practices; and assessing whether women are given choice in these practices. A national sample of 39 hospitals was selected. The director, head midwife, or head nurse of the obstetrics department was interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire.
The hospitals studied are largely equipped to cope with emergencies and services are available 24 hours a day. On average, the caesarean section rate is 18% and the stillbirth rate is 10 per 1000, but with considerable variability between facilities. The majority of hospitals do not have written policies or standard birth procedures and lack mechanisms for evaluation. Generally, minimal prenatal information is given to women. Companions are allowed during labour but this access is more restricted in delivery. The reported configuration of professional care during labour and delivery is favourable to high quality care. In terms of mobility during labour, most hospitals allow women to move. However, 31 hospitals set an i.v. drip to all women and some use continuous fetal monitoring method. Mobility is restricted in delivery; in 23 hospitals women are tied down. Nearly all hospitals give intra-muscular anaesthesia whereas epidurals are used less frequently. As for postpartum care, most hospitals do not initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth and few have rooming in. The majority of hospitals do not provide women with family planning methods and a few do not even discuss methods with them.
The approach used in this study constitutes a tool for understanding and assessing maternity services that should be applied in other settings. The tool is available from the authors.
Khayat, R.; Campbell, O. Hospital practices in maternity wards in Lebanon. Health Policy and Planning (2000) 15 (3) 270-278. [DOI: 10.1093/heapol/15.3.270]