Nigeria is on the verge of not meeting the fifth millennium development goals of improving maternal health due to a high maternal mortality rate which is estimated to be 630 women per 100,000 live births and lack of utilization of maternal health care services is a major contributing factor. Hence, the study was designed to explore awareness and barriers to the utilization of maternal health care services among reproductive women (15 to 45 years) in Amassoma community, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. The study population consists of women of reproductive age (15 to 45 years). A purposive sampling technique was used to select the sample size of 192. Data were collected using a questionnaire and descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data generated. The study revealed that the majority of the respondents [182 (94.8%)] have heard of maternal health services but only few actually knew the main services rendered at maternal health care services. Regression coefficient showed significant association between educational status and utilization of maternal health care services (MHCS) among the respondents (beta = 0.47, p = 0.000); parity and utilization of MHCS (beta = -0.14, p = 0.016); and age and utilization of MHCS (beta = -0.19, p = 0.001). The major variables associated with barriers to utilization of maternal health services among respondents were poor knowledge of the existing services, previous bad obstetric history; attitude of the health care provider, availability, accessibility and husband's acceptance of the maternal healthcare services. It is recommended that Government should subsidize maternal health services in order to make it affordable, acceptable and available to women. Also nurses should encourage women of reproductive age to utilize maternal health by providing a welcoming and supportive attitude at all contacts.
Key words: Awareness, barrier, utilization, maternal health care services, reproductive age, women.
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