Speaker: Ponsiano Kabakyenga Nuwagaba
Facilitator: Hayat Gommaa
In low- and middle-income countries, several barriers impede utilisation of antenatal care (ANC) services by women with disabilities, yet ANC is a critical entry point for pregnant women to receive quality maternity care services. We investigated the experiences of pregnant women with physical disabilities in utilising ANC services to suggest strategies for improving the services.
Methods: A qualitative study using a multiple case study design was conducted. Twelve women with physical disabilities and six midwives from three health facilities in Sheema District in rural south-western Uganda, were selected as study participants. Women were sampled using snowball sampling. Midwives and health facilities were sampled using purposive sampling. Data was gathered through face-to-face interviews and a focus group discussion between November 2020 to January 2021. Data was transcribed, translated and thematically analysed. Ethical approval was obtained from University of Cape Town and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. No competing interests declared.
Results: Women had mixed experiences of midwives and other health workers, noting that sometimes midwives would be supportive and other times, they would be unapproachable. Participants felt that midwives had limited knowledge on disability and were emotionally unprepared to attend to pregnant women with disabilities. There were suggestions for disability inclusion, including a dedicated ANC clinic and making connections with stakeholders, for fit-for-purpose ANC services.
Conclusion: Midwives have limited understanding of the implications of physical disability on women’s utilisation of ANC services. Respect for women with disabilities’ dignity and needs should be emphasized in midwifery education and training.