In low and middle-income countries, nurses and midwives are the frontline healthcare workers in obstetric care. Insights into the experiences of these healthcare workers in managing obstetric care emergencies are critical for improving quality of care. This article presents such insights, from the nurses and midwives working in Rwandan district hospitals, who reflected on their experiences of managing the most common birth-related complications; postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) and newborn asphyxia. This is a qualitative part of a broader research about implementation of an mLearning and mHealth decision support tool (Safe Delivery Application), in basic emergency obstetric and newborn care services in Rwanda.
In this exploratory qualitative aspect of the research, the first author facilitated four focus group discussions with 26 nurses and midwives from two district hospitals in Rwanda. Each focus group discussion was made up of two parts. The first part focused on the participants’ reflections on the research results, while the second part explored their experiences of delivering obstetric care services in their respective district hospitals. The research results included: survey results reflecting their knowledge and skills of PPH management and of neonatal resuscitation (NR); and findings from a six-month record review of PPH management and NR outcomes, from the district hospitals under study. Data were analyzed using hybrid thematic analysis.
Nurses and midwives felt that the presented findings were a true reflection of the reality and offered diverse explanations for the results. The participants’ narratives of lived experiences of providing BEmONC services are presented under two broad themes: (1) self-reflections on their current practices and (2) contextual factors influencing the delivery of BEmONC services.
The insights of nurses and midwives regarding the management of birth related complications revealed multi-faceted factors that influence the quality of their obstetric care. Even though the study was focused on their management of PPH and NR, the resulting recommendations to improve quality of care could benefit the broader field of maternal and child health particularly in low and middle income countries.