The World Health Organization's recommended package of interventions for the integrated management of pregnancy and childbirth provides guidance for the use of evidence-based interventions to ensure the best outcomes for mother and newborn. However, the extent to which skilled birth attendants (SBAs) follow evidence-based guidelines is not known. There are few studies into childbirth practices of SBAs in Cambodia. The aim of this study was to observe practices of SBAs during labour, birth and the immediate post-partum period and their consistency with evidence-based guidelines.Methods
A structured non-participant observation study was undertaken. Data were collected using an observational checklist of evidence-based practices adapted from the Cambodian clinical assessment tools for associate degree in midwifery. Maternity care settings in one provincial hospital, two district referral hospitals and two health centres in one province of Cambodia were purposively selected.Results
Twenty-five SBAs who attended 40 women during labour, birth and the postnatal period were observed. The results showed that the use of the partograph was low; birth companions were not permitted; cleanliness during birth was lacking; management of the third stage of labour was inappropriate; monitoring of mother and baby in the early postnatal period was lacking; the SBAs lacked skills in neonatal resuscitation; skin-to-skin contact with the newborn and early breastfeeding were rare; and intramuscular injection of vitamin K varied.Conclusion
The findings suggest that the current SBA practices during labour, birth and the immediate post-partum period in one province of Cambodia are not consistent with evidence-based guidelines. Service improvements that address evidence-based practices are likely to have an impact on clean and safe childbirth, thereby enhancing outcomes for Cambodia women.