This explorative study was conducted in the Mangochi area in Malawi with the aim of investigating the individual, community and health facility level factors influencing women s choice of place of delivery. In depth interviews and non-participating observation were the methods used. Three major issues were revealed. First, sub optimal quality of care including communication, attitudes and cooperation within the health care system was identified as a main factor. Secondly, cultural aspects such as influence from decision makers, perceptions of danger signs and traditional views on pregnancy and delivery were important. Finally, an unsatisfactory availability to skilled delivery care in terms of distance, transport and costs was shown. We conclude that the barriers to use of professional obstetric care in Malawi partly can be attributed to the health care system itself, and that a more individualized maternity care is needed.
This article will soon be published in African Journal of Reproductive Health.