Appropriate immediate newborn care is vital for neonatal survival. Antenatal period is a crucial time to impart knowledge and awareness to mothers regarding newborn care, either during facility visits or during home visits by community health workers (CHWs) especially in the rural context. In this paper, we report newborn care practices in rural Uttar Pradesh (UP) and have explored association between newborn care practices with antenatal care, contact with community health workers during pregnancy and place of childbirth.
We use cross-sectional baseline data (which is part of a larger intervention project) collected from 129 gram panchayats (GPs) from 15 administrative blocks spread over five districts of UP in 2013. From currently married women (n = 2208) of 15–49 years, who delivered 15 months prior to the survey, we collected information on women’s demographic and socio-economic characteristics, knowledge and practice of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition behaviours. Association of newborn practices with antenatal care, contacts by community health worker during pregnancy and place of childbirth were tested using random intercept logistic regression, adjusting for socio-economic and demographic factors and accounting for clustering at the GP and block levels.
Eighty-three percent of 2208 mothers received ANC, but only half of the respondents received a minimum of three ANC visits. More than two thirds of respondents delivered at a health facility. Practice of newborn care was poor: merely one fourth of women practised clean cord care, one third of women followed good breastfeeding practices (initiation with an hour of birth, fed colostrum and did not give pre-lacteal feeds) and one third provided adequate thermal care (kept baby warm and delayed bathing). Only 5% followed all above practices with evidence of clustering of newborn care practices at the block and GP levels. While facility-based childbirth was strongly associated with appropriate newborn care practices, ANC visits and contacts with CHWs was not associated with all newborn care practices.
The quality of ANC care provided needs to be improved to have an impact on newborn care practices. Our finding emphasizes the importance of facility-based birthing. There is a need for training CHWs to strengthen their counselling skills on newborn care. Variation of newborn care practices between communities should be taken into consideration while implementing any intervention to optimize benefits.