Background: This study aims to explore the stories of three women from Zanzibar, Tanzania, who survived life-threatening obstetric complications. Their narratives will increase understanding of the individual and community-level burden masked behind the statistics of maternal morbidity and mortality in Tanzania. In line with a recent systematic review of women-centred, qualitative maternal morbidity research, this study will contribute to guidance of local and global maternal health agendas. Methods: This two-phased qualitative study was conducted in July-August 2017 and July-August 2018, and involved three key informants, who were recruited from a maternal near-miss cohort in May 2017 in Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, Zanzibar. The used methods were participant observation, interviews (informal, unstructured and semi-structured), participatory methods and focus group discussions. Data analysis relied primarily on grounded theory, leading to a theoretical model, which was validated repeatedly by the informants and within the study team. The findings were then positioned in the existing literature. Approval was granted by Zanzibar’s Medical Ethical Research Committee (reference number: ZAMREC/0002/JUN/17). Results: The impact of severe maternal morbidity was found to be multi-dimensional and to extend beyond hospital discharge and thus institutionalized care. Four key areas impacted by maternal morbidities emerged, namely (1) social, (2) sexual and reproductive, (3) psychological, and (4) economic well-being. Conclusions: This study showed how three women’s lives and livelihoods were profoundly impacted by the severe obstetric complications they had survived, even up to 16 months later. These impacts took a toll on their physical, social, economic, sexual and psychological well-being, and affected family and community members alike. These findings advocate for a holistic, dignified, patient value-based approach to the necessary improvement of maternal health care in low-income settings. Furthermore, it emphasizes the need for strategies to be directed not only towards quality of care during pregnancy and delivery, but also towards support after obstetric complications.

maternal morbidity, obstetric complications, postpartum period, long-term impact, low-income setting, value-based health care,
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Department of Gynaecology & Obstetrics

Herklots, T., Yussuf, S.S., Mbarouk, K.S., O'Meara, M., Carson, E., Plug, S.B., … Jacod, B. (2020). "I lost my happiness, I felt half dead and half alive" - a qualitative study of the long-term aftermath of obstetric near-miss in the urban district of Zanzibar, Tanzania. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 20(1). doi:10.1186/s12884-020-03261-8