Perinatal care and its association with perinatal death among women attending care in three district hospitals of western Uganda

Mercy Muwema, Joaniter I. Nankabirwa, Grace Edwards, Gorrette Nalwadda, Joanita Nangendo, Jaffer Okiring, Gloria Odei Obeng-Amoako, Wilson Mwanja, Elizabeth N. Ekong, Joan N. Kalyango, Dan K. Kaye

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Background: Provision of effective care to all women and newborns during the perinatal period is a viable strategy for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3 targets on reducing maternal and neonatal mortality. This study examined perinatal care (antenatal, intrapartum, postpartum) and its association with perinatal deaths at three district hospitals in Bunyoro region, Uganda. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in which a questionnaire was administered consecutively to 872 postpartum women before discharge who had attended antenatal care and given birth in the study hospitals. Data on care received during antenatal, labour, delivery, and postpartum period, and perinatal outcome were extracted from medical records of the enrolled postnatal women using a pre-tested structured tool. The care received from antenatal to 24 h postpartum period was assessed against the standard protocol of care established by World Health Organization (WHO). Poisson regression was used to assess the association between care received and perinatal death. Results: The mean age of the women was 25 years (standard deviation [SD] 5.95). Few women had their blood tested for hemoglobin levels, HIV, and Syphilis (n = 53, 6.1%); had their urine tested for glucose and proteins (n = 27, 3.1%); undertook an ultrasound scan (n = 262, 30%); and had their maternal status assessed (n = 122, 14%) during antenatal care as well as had their uterus assessed for contraction and bleeding during postpartum care (n = 63, 7.2%). There were 19 perinatal deaths, giving a perinatal mortality rate of 22/1,000 births (95% Confidence interval [CI] 8.1–35.5). Of these 9 (47.4%) were stillbirths while the remaining 10 (52.6%) were early neonatal deaths. In the antenatal phase, only fetal examination was significantly associated with perinatal death (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 0.22, 95% CI 0.1–0.6). No significant association was found between perinatal deaths and care during labour, delivery, and the early postpartum period. Conclusion: Women did not receive all the required perinatal care during the perinatal period. Perinatal mortality rate in Bunyoro region remains high, although it’s lower than the national average. The study shows a reduction in the proportion of perinatal deaths for pregnancies where the mother received fetal monitoring. Strategies focused on strengthened fetal status monitoring such as fetal movement counting methods and fetal heart rate monitoring devices during pregnancy need to be devised to reduce the incidence of perinatal deaths. Findings from the study provide valuable information that would support the strengthening of perinatal care services for improved perinatal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


  • Antenatal care
  • Birth outcomes
  • Intrapartum care
  • Neonatal death
  • Perinatal death
  • Postnatal care
  • Stillbirth


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