Prolonged labour causes maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. Its sequela include obstructed labour, uterine rupture, maternal exhaustion, postpartum haemorrhage, puerperal sepsis, obstetric fistula, stillbirths, birth asphyxia and neonatal sepsis. These complications can be reduced by using the partograph to assess the progress of labour. The Ministry of Health, Kenya has adopted this tool for labour management in the country and the standardised partograph is recommended for use in all delivery units.
To determine the utilisation of the partograph in the management of labour in selected health facilities in Kenya.
A descriptive cross sectional study.
Nine health facilities -ranging from a tertiary hospital to health centre, including public private and faith based facilities in four provinces in Kenya.
All facilities apart from Pumwani Maternity Hospital and one health centre were using the partograph. The correct use was low, the knowledge on the use of the tool was average and there was minimal formal training being provided. Staff shortage was listed as the most common cause of not using the tool. Contractions were recorded 30-80%, foetal heart rate 53-90% and cervical dilatation 70-97%. Documentation of state of the liquor, moulding and descent as well as maternal parameters such as pulse, and blood pressure and urinalysis were minimally recorded. Supplies for monitoring labour such as fetoscopes and blood pressure machines were in short supply and sometimes not functional. Overall, the poor usage was contributed to staff shortages, lack of knowledge especially on interpretation of findings, negative attitudes, conflict between providers as to their roles in filling the partograph, and senior staff themselves not acting as role models with regards to the use, advocacy and implementation of the partograph.
The partograph was available in most units. However, accurate recording of parameters to monitor the foetus, the mother and progress of labour as recommended was mostly not done. Shortage of staff, lack of knowledge, lack of team work, lack of supplies and negative attitude among healthcare providers were some of the obstacles noted to hamper partograph use.