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October 2021

Curationis. 1998 Sep; 21(3): 59-66.

Traditional birth attendants in South Africa: professional midwives' beliefs and myths.

Nolte A.

It is necessary to establish in a scientific way what the knowledge of midwives regarding TBAs are, because misconceptions can very often lead to a negative attitude. The objective of the research was to determine what the practices of traditional birth attendants are regarding antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care according to professional midwives. An exploratory research design was used, where qualitative research methods were used to explore the above-mentioned aspects about the traditional birth attendant in certain communities in South Africa. Open-ended questionnaires were used to determine how midwives see the role of the TBA. Content analysis has been used to analyse the responses of the professional midwives. The role of the TBA according to the midwives can be summarised as follows, she is a middle aged or elderly lady with no formal training, who acquired her skills through experience. She attends to women during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period in different ways that have been used by the TBA are mainly herbs that facilitate a quick delivery, or others that cause bleeding of the uterus postnatally. Other TBAs use no medicine. All the functions identified by the midwives were compared with literature about the role of TBAs in Africa. The majority of functions identified by midwives were found in the literature. The majority of professional midwives thought it a good idea to have TBAs who have undergone some form of training in order to improve their standard of practice and to teach them the early symptoms of complications. Implications for future practice will therefore be, amongst others, to start with training programmes for TBAs. An assessment in each community of the best way to do so, should first be done.

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