Analysis of the social acceptability of a humanized childbirth intervention in Senegal: A qualitative study

  • Emilie Gélinas
    Correspondence to: 286 rue André-Jobin, Saint-Eustache, Québec, Canada.
    Department of Health Sciences, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 445 boul. de l’Université, Rouyn-Noranda, Québec J9X 5E4, Canada
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  • Oumar Mallé Samb
    Department of Health Sciences, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 445 boul. de l’Université, Rouyn-Noranda, Québec J9X 5E4, Canada
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      In efforts to improve the quality of women’s care and enhance related experiences in Senegal, the Senegalese government implemented an intervention named “humanized childbirth” in their health facilities.


      To analyze the social acceptability of humanized childbirth as well as its relevance given the social values in Senegal.


      A multiple-case study was conducted within four health facilities in Dakar. Breastfeeding mothers (n = 20), pregnant women (n = 4), midwives (n = 8), Bajenu Gox (n = 4), members of the Health Development Committee (n = 4), and men from the community (n = 4) were interviewed individually, and a documentary analysis was done. The thematic analysis was performed using the acceptability theoretical framework.


      The results show that most participants agreed with the idea of humanized childbirth. However, participants display varying viewpoints as to the social acceptability of various components of the intervention. While there is an overall agreement concerning the benefits of motivated and attentive health professionals focused on prevention, restoring dignity for the parturient woman, freedom to eat and drink, massages and relaxation, the same cannot be said about the freedom of choice for birth positions and companionship.


      The contrasting viewpoints as to the acceptability of humanized childbirth can be explained by the perception of risk and lack of experience with free birthing positions, as well as structural and cultural barriers surrounding the notion of companionship.


      Education and awareness of the benefits of free birthing positions and companionship would be required among Senegalese women to enable a cultural shift in maternity wards in Senegal.


      HDC (Health Development Committee), JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), NHDP (National Health Development Plan), EONC (Emergency obstetric and newborn care)


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