Maternity waiting homes: Comprehensive approach to maternal and newborn care

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Increased encounters with the healthcare system at multiple levels have the potential to improve maternal and newborn outcomes. The literature is replete with evidence on the impact of antenatal care and postnatal care to improve outcomes. Additionally, maternity waiting homes (MWHs) have been identified as a critical link in the continuum of care for maternal and newborn health yet there is scant data on the associations among MWH use and antenatal/postnatal attendance, family planning and immunization rates of newborns.


A cross-sectional household survey was conducted to collect data from women who delivered a child in the past 13 months from catchment areas associated with 40 healthcare facilities in seven rural Saving Mothers Giving Life districts in Zambia. Multi-stage random sampling procedures were employed with a final sample of n = 2381. Logistic regression models with adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were used to analyze the data.


The use of a MWH was associated with increased odds of attending four or more antenatal care visits (OR = 1.45, 95% CI = 1.26, 1.68), attending all postnatal care check-ups (OR = 2.00, 95% CI = 1.29, 3.12) and taking measures to avoid pregnancy (OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.10, 1.55) when compared to participants who did not use a MWH.


This is the first study to quantitatively examine the relationship between the use of MWHs and antenatal and postnatal uptake. Developing a comprehensive package of services for maternal and newborn care has the potential to improve acceptability, accessibility, and availability of healthcare services for maternal and newborn health. Maternity waiting homes have the potential to be used as part of a multi-pronged approach to improve maternal and newborn outcomes.

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