Quality care during childbirth at a midwife obstetric unit in Cape Town, Western Cape: Women and midwives’ perceptions
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Globally, there has been significant progress in reducing preventable maternal deaths and disability, and growing attention on improving the quality of care in maternal health care facilities. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes quality care as delivering healthcare that is effective, efficient, accessible, acceptable, patient–centred, equitable and safe (WHO, 2014). Midwives are the backbone of midwifery and therefore the primary care giver for pregnant women accessing maternal care and women’s ability to access quality midwifery care during the antenatal, labour and postnatal period is the key component in midwifery care. The Primary Level Protocol of South Africa is under the umbrella of the Primary Health Care System, and according to this system low risk women are expected to seek antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care from the nearest Midwife Obstetric Unit (MOU). The choice a woman makes regarding access to maternity care depends on the social norms in her society and what services are offered. However, the services that are available may not meet the needs of pregnant women. Women may need detailed information about the availability of the maternity care system in order to make an informed decision on where to access the health system. The gap between the perceived needs of pregnant women and the care provided by midwives can be bridged by listening to women to create a reciprocal understanding of quality care. In South Africa, limited research has been conducted on midwives and women’s perceptions of maternity care. In the absence of such information, this study was conducted at an MOU in the Western Cape, with the aim of exploring women and midwives’ perceptions of quality care during childbirth.