Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Use of active management of the third stage of labour in seven developing countries

Cynthia Stanton, Deborah Armbruster, Rod Knight, Iwan Ariawan, Sourou Gbangbade, Ashebir Getachew, Jose Angel Portillo, Douglas Jarquin, Flor Marin, Sayoka Mfinanga, Jesus Vallecillo, Hope Johnson & David Sintasath

Objective

To document the use of active management of the third stage of labour for preventing postpartum haemorrhage and to explore factors associated with such use in seven developing countries.

Methods

Nationally representative samples of facility-based deliveries were selected and observed to determine the use of active management of the third stage of labour and associated factors. Policies on active management were assessed through document review and interviews with relevant professionals.

Findings

Use of a uterotonic during the third or fourth stages of labour was nearly universal. Correct use of active management of the third stage of labour was found in only 0.5% to 32% of observed deliveries due to multiple deficiencies in practice. In every country except Indonesia, policies regarding active management were conflicting.

Conclusion

Developing countries have not targeted decreasing postpartum haemorrhage as an achievable goal; there is little use of active management of the third stage of labour, and policies regarding such management often conflict. Studies are needed to identify the most effective components of active management so that the most efficient package of practices can be promoted.

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