Women’s use of non-conventional herbal uterotonic in pregnancy and labour: evidence from birth attendants

Joshua Sumankuuro, Leonard Baatiema, Judith Crockett, Jeanine Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Over the years, governments and stakeholders have implemented various policies/programmes to improve maternal health outcomes in low-middle-income countries. In Ghana, Community Health Officers were trained as midwives to increase access to skilled maternal healthcare. The government subsequently banned traditional birth attendants from providing direct maternal healthcare in 2000. Despite these, there is an unprecedented utilisation of TBAs’ services, including herbal uterotonics. This has attempted to defeat stakeholders’ campaigns to improve maternal health outcomes. Thus, we explored and highlighted herbal uterotonic consumption in pregnancy and birth and the implications on maternal and newborn health outcomes in North-Western Ghana. Methods: This was an exploratory qualitative study that investigated traditional birth attendants (n = 17) and healthcare providers' (n = 26) perspectives on the intake of herbal uterotonics in pregnancy and childbirth in rural Ghana, using in-depth interviews. A combination of convenience, purposive and snowball sampling procedures were employed in selecting participants. Results: Findings were captured in two domains: (1) perceived rationale for herbal uterotonic intake, and (2) potential adverse impacts of herbal uterotonic intake in pregnancy and labour, and nine topics: (i) confidence in unskilled attendance at birth, (ii) cost and a shortage of essential medicines, (iii) herbal uterotonics as a remedy for obstetric problems, (iv) herbal uterotonics facilitate birth, (v) attraction of home birth for cultural reasons, (vi) affordability of herbal uterotonics, (vii) unintended consequences and adverse outcomes, (viii) risks using herbal uterotonics to manage fertility and (ix) risks using herbal uterotonics to facilitate home birth. Conclusion: The findings have suggested that the intake of non-conventional herbal uterotonic is widespread in the study area, although the constituents of the herb are unknown. However, complex and multiple factors of healthcare cost, desire for homebirth, unawareness of the negative effects of such substances, perceived way of addressing obstetric problems and cultural undertones, among others, accounted for herbal uterotonics consumption. We also encourage research into the constituents of ‘mansugo’ and the potential benefits and adverse effects. We recommend qualitative studies involving previous users of this herbal uterotonic to inform policy and healthcare provision.

Original languageEnglish
Article number600
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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